Opinion – Decaturish condemns Trump’s cynical pandering to bigotsDonald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore, obtained via Wikimedia Commons
We don’t do a lot of editorializing at Decaturish, but once again I feel compelled by basic human decency to speak up.
Moments like these are the ones our children and grandchildren look back on. They will ask us, “Where were you? What did you have to say?”
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There’s only one thing to say. President Trump is a vile and cynical human being overseeing a failed presidency. Because he is unable to comprehend the vast responsibilities of his office, much less govern, he continues to return to the tactic that has always worked for him: pandering to bigots.
When you ask his supporters whether they are happy or not, they inevitably point to his pandering as if it were an achievement. His administration has merrily taken on the task of ethnically cleansing America under the guise of enforcing immigration laws, breaking families and asking ordinary citizens to spy on their neighbors.
The administration has sought to substantiate bogus reports of voter fraud in a thinly-veiled attempt to rid voter lists of minority voters.
As the threat of a criminal investigation into his presidential campaign creeps closer to his shady business dealings, he has turned once again to his tried and true tactic. Today he announced that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. The president, who has never served in the military and actively avoided doing so, has decided that patriotic American citizens should be denied the opportunity to serve because they would cause “disruption” within the military. The only disruption will be the purging of the more than 2,000 people already serving their country. These people will have their livelihoods ripped away from them to satisfy the prejudices of our president and his flunkies.
This action is also likely to put a larger target on the backs of transgender individuals, who are already dealing with hate crimes and frightening rates of suicide. The leader of our country is telling them that their contributions do not matter, that they do not matter.
But they do. They are our friends and family and neighbors. And unlike many of us, some of them have the courage to both serve our country and confront the backwards attitudes of people who deny their very existence. That’s more guts than I will ever have, and they should be commended, not persecuted.
As I said earlier this year, Decaturish and its sibling website Atlanta Loop will not be participating in the normalization of this “othering” of people in our community. To do so would be contrary to everything that we value, including free speech and protecting the powerless.
Some of our readers won’t care for my views on the subject, to which I say, good. Don’t need ya. See you later. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Contrary opinions will always have a place here, but racism, homophobia and transphobia will not. If you are seeking a validation of these things, we aren’t the publication for you.
Locally, we must confront our own issues surrounding transphobia. Even in a progressive community like Decatur there are individuals who are fixated on trivial matters like where someone goes to the bathroom in our schools. Even here, there’s a market for the prejudice disguised as politics that Trump is peddling. I will not indulge it and I hope our broader community is strong enough to resist the temptation to “other” people in the name of their own comfort.
I asked a couple of transgender people in our community what they thought about the president’s announcement. In full disclosure, they are also my friends.
“It’s really a pathetic attempt to punch down on patriotic trans persons,” Victoria Mitchell said. “I’m just so disgusted that in all that time that he has to fix problems, he’s choosing to target and denigrate in the name of austerity.”
Vandy Beth Glenn, who won a discrimination lawsuit after she was fired by her employer after coming out as transgender, said Trump is using this as a “cynical wedge issue” and his announcement has nothing to do with military readiness.
“Transgender people have served in the U.S. military for many years now,” she said. “It’s estimated that 135,000 veterans are transgender. We volunteer for military service at a rate much higher than our cisgender fellow citizens. There is no argument against allowing transgender people to serve in the military that was not also made against allowing women to serve, or allowing gays and lesbians to serve. The military has been coed for decades, and gays and lesbians have served openly since 2010. There have been no big problems as a result of either change. The U.S. military remains the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. It’s time for transgender people to join everyone else, serving openly on the ships and in the foxholes, as is both our right and our obligation as Americans.”
Someday we will be called to account for where we were when our leaders began to systematically rid our country of people who are different than they are. Now is the time to decide where you stand. You’re either standing with prejudice or against it. There is no middle ground.
At Decaturish, we know where we stand.