Last year, I sent a Martin Luther King Day message that referenced a 1967 speech by Dr. King. The speech was about the Vietnam War but it discussed what Dr. King called “the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism" and it seemed particularly timely in the days leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Unfortunately, one year later, it hits even closer to home.
Those “triple evils” -- especially the first two, so far -- have defined the Trump presidency.
Racism: We thought Trump’s campaign was bad, but in his first year of office Trump has:
- Defended Nazis and called them “fine people” in wake of Charlottesville violence
- Staffed his White House with white nationalists
- Tweeted anti-Muslim propaganda from far-right English hate group
- Pursued a policy agenda, especially at the Justice Department, that criminalizes communities of color
- Attacked diversity admissions at colleges and universities through the Department of Justice
- Attacked immigrant communities by rescinding DACA, stepping up deportations, ending protective status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who sought refuge here due to disasters in their countries of origin, and pursuing undue restrictions on legal immigration
- Showed profound -- and offensive -- ignorance about the history and achievements of African Americans (“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”)
- Attacked NFL players for exercising their right to free speech to raise awareness about police brutality and other oppression
- Inspired other Republicans to use his campaign playbook of racial division
- Inflamed fears about violence committed by immigrants -- particularly Latinos and Muslims
Economic Exploitation: The tax scam passed by Trump Republicans in Congress with zero Democratic support is a massive redistribution of wealth to the very top, with corporations and the 1% lining their pockets at the painful expense of middle-class and low-income Americans. In addition, we’ve seen:
- An aggressive deregulation agenda that has removed protections for workers, consumers, and the environment
- Dangerous deregulation of the financial sector, including multiple efforts to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Ongoing attempts to rip lifesaving health care away from tens of millions of Americans and drive up health care premiums
- Political brinksmanship regarding the funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, imperiling the health care of 9 million children
- Legislation to explode the deficit and create the excuse to try to shred safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
Militarism: We’ve seen this no more clearly than with Trump’s posturing and Twitter antagonism regarding North Korea. Trump’s “tough talk” has been aimed at some other countries as well, and his brand of militarism actually includes a very new dynamic in American foreign affairs -- isolating the US with reckless hostility towards international agreements and norms, as well as our own alliances like NATO. Thankfully, Trump’s penchant for vindictive lashing out has not led us into an actual war yet, but obviously there is cause for concern and he has certainly demonstrated hawkish impulses with his public -- and oftentimes confusing -- chest thumping.
Today, it’s important to remember and celebrate Dr. King’s vision and the rights and values he died defending. But it’s also important to stay mindful of how drastically at odds King’s vision and fight are with the Trump presidency and right-wing Republican rule.
This year, we’ll be fighting -- as always -- to advance the values Dr. King championed and, with your support, we have the chance to do it big time at the ballot box this November.
Thank you so much for all you do. And Happy Martin Luther King Day.
Michael Keegan, President
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