President Trump may have already made good on his promise to increase employment. The staff at Signet Classics is working to meet the demand for George Orwell's 68-year-old classic "1984." On Feb. 1, this dystopian novel about an authoritarian state where facts are distorted and altered was the top book on Amazon's best sellers list.
What in the world has President Trump wrought? It has been only two weeks since the inauguration, and chaos rules throughout the land. Mass demonstrations are protesting the president's executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States to protect us from terrorists. Note that the ban did not apply to Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Is that because Trump has business interests there?
The ban has triggered a legitimate constitutional crisis, since Customs and Border Protection officials are acting in defiance of federal judges in four states who have declared parts of the executive order unconstitutional. We are a nation of laws, and when federal judges rule, all government officials, including the president, must obey. If they don't, they are in contempt of court and guilty of violating the Constitution and the balance of power. Abner Greene, a Fordham University law professor declared, "Obedience to specific court orders is what keeps us from being a banana republic or fascist dictatorship."
Chaos continued when close to 900 American diplomats from around the world signed a "dissent memo" to register their objections to Trump's ban because "… much of the Muslim world … sees the ban as religiously motivated." They further wrote, "This ban stands in opposition to the core American values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold."
Jihadist websites erupted with self-serving reactions to the ban, with many reporting that Trump had validated their long-standing claim that the U.S. is at war with Islam. Their social media comments framed the ban as a recruiting tool for young Muslims, especially those now residing in the U.S.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called it a "blessed ban," and compared it to the "blessed invasion" of Iraq that helped fan the flames of extremism. The ban thus puts all Americans in danger and underlines the long-standing wisdom of President Obama, who refused to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," despite taunts from the right. Such words and actions like the travel ban are tantamount to throwing gasoline on an inferno.
Last Saturday night, Trump signed an executive order that gave a full seat on the National Security Council's "principals committee" to Steve Bannon, a political amateur and supporter of white supremacist causes, while demoting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of National Intelligence. They will now only be invited when issues in their direct areas of responsibilities are slated for discussion. Who decides that, and why am I suddenly reminded of Dr. Strangelove?
On Monday, Trump's contempt for the rule of law peaked with his firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she said the Justice Department would not defend the immigration ban. He also demoted and replaced the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
This vindictiveness carries over to Trump's treatment of the media whose biggest sin is simply reporting the outrageous things he actually says and does. His consigliere, Bannon, recently told the media "to keep its mouth shut," and Trump himself has called it the "opposition party." In this twisted world where we are expected to accept "alternative facts" instead of objective truth, is it any wonder that people are consulting Orwell for guidance?
Just before Trump's travel ban, atomic scientists, including 18 Nobel laureates, reset their symbolic "Doomsday Clock" from 3 minutes to midnight to 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The clock dates back to 1947 when tensions ran high between the U.S.S.R and the U.S. This is the closest time to midnight and global catastrophe in 64 years, and the move was based on growing fears of cataclysmic events resulting from nuclear weapons, climate change and Trump's election. I'm terrified these scientists may know something many Americans are still in denial about.
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Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.