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Turmoil Marks Early Days Of Trump Administration

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Feb 7, 2017 - 9:18:49 PM

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Protestors rally at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in opposition to Pres. Donald Trump’s Executive Order that called for a ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
WASHINGTON—A little more than one week into the presidency of  Donald Trump, Right-wing Tea Party radicals, White supremacists and Neo Nazis around the world, are delirious: at last a conservative president who is keeping his campaign promises.

At the same time, the liberal establishment is in shock, its minorities in both houses of Congress are unable to restrain the headstrong new administration.

Meanwhile the government itself is reeling. Some officials are in rebellion, in just three days, 1,000 career diplomats at the State Department signed a letter of dissent concerning President Trump’s ban on immigration into this country from seven, majority Muslim nations.

And U.S. foreign relations were sent into a tailspin when the new president upended protocol, with a pair of “bizarre” and “dangerous” phone calls with U.S. allies.

Critics, observers at home and abroad likely expected changes in the first 100 days, but few imagined that Mr. Trump’s first 10 days would see the amount of turmoil that the new president has generated, especially in the area of race relations.

“He is exacerbating the race situation in America,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said before the election, “and I will guarantee you, if he becomes president, he’ll take America exactly where America is heading. He’ll take you there on a rocket ship.”

After the election, Minister Farrakhan again warned about the new president-elect. “Mr. Trump is peeling back the skin of the ‘onion’ of civility,’” the Muslim leader said in “It’s Nation Time” remarks, published in The Final Call Dec. 27, 2016.

“The moment he was elected, according to what I’ve heard on the news, there were 700 hate crimes committed against people of color, the Black, the Brown, the Muslims.  And now, you know, White people are just angry (“N---a! Shoot the n---a!”; police, “Kill that n---a!”)—they don’t care now. The skin of civility is gone.”

Criticism of the new administration has been loud and widespread, from grassroots street protests to leaders of Congress. Mr. Trump is “reckless,” “brash,” and “so insecure,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a town hall meeting.

The number and intensity of protests against the new government were unprecedented. Airports were disrupted, and massive, spontaneous demonstrations erupted all over the country.

Mr. Trump even canceled a planned trip to Milwaukee amid calls for mass protests. The White House announced Mr. Trump would not tour a Harley-Davidson factory as scheduled. In response, the “Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump” said, “Trump’s unpopular policies have ignited an unprecedented resistance movement that will block his every move. We hope our success in Milwaukee sets the tone for the rest of Trump’s Presidency, wherever he goes, there will be resistance!”

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LAX was among several airports around the U.S. where citizens rallied in opposition to an immigration travel ban by the Trump Administration. Although a federal judge in Washington state granted a temporary restraining order on the ban on Feb. 3, which suspends the order, the Trump administration said the U.S. Department of Justice would file an appeal. Photos: Malcolm Ali

In another unprecedented protest, 1,000 State Department diplomats signed a protest petition against the proposed Muslim travel ban. Just days after the executive order was issued, dozens of foreign service officers and diplomats began circulating a memo internally, warning that Mr. Trump’s “knee jerk” order would sour relations with key allies and do nothing to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks. The plan was to send it through the formal “dissent channel” to the agency’s highest levels.

The memo has become popular. According to Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times, it circulated fast through informal networks among career diplomats and collected roughly 1,000 signatures after just three days.

Mr. Trump’s order would do little to protect America from terrorist attacks, since “the overwhelming majority of attacks have been committed by native-born or naturalized U.S. citizens,” according to a draft posted by Ben Wittes, Susan Hennessey, and Quinta Jurecic on the Lawfare blog. And: “In the isolated incidents of foreign nationals entering the U.S. on a visa to commit acts of terror, the nationals have come from a range of countries, including many (such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia) which are not covered by the Executive Order.

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“It will immediately sour relations with the countries covered—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen —as well as much of the Muslim world, which sees the ban as religiously motivated.” By alienating these governments, the draft memo noted, “we lose access the intelligence and resources needed to fight the root causes of terror abroad, before an attack occurs within our borders.”

In addition, another “180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop … where experts will offer advice on workers’ rights and how they can express civil disobedience,” according to The Washington Post.

Even the head of the African Union slammed Mr. Trump’s ban, which affects three African nations, pointing out the history of the mass kidnapping of Africans during the United States’s transatlantic slave trade. “It is clear that globally we are entering very turbulent times,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, head of the African Union Commission.

“For an example, the very country to whom our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade have now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries. What do we do about this? Indeed, this is one of the greatest challenges and tests to our unity and solidarity,” she said.

Former President Barack Obama spoke out against Donald Trump and in favor of the massive protests against the immigration ban. “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake. … The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Mr. Obama’s spokesman said in a statement.

Some top Republicans criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration order. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain said in a joint statement the move “sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

In addition to the international furor over the Muslim travel ban, diplomats and foreign policy observers were shocked to learn the details of telephone calls between Mr. Trump and his counterparts in Mexico and Australia.

In a call with Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull, Mr. Trump reportedly bragged about his election victory and railed against a deal the Obama administration struck with Australia to take in a small number of refugees currently trying to enter Australia. Mr. Trump then told Mr. Turnbull “this was the worst call by far” he’d had with a foreign leader so far, before abruptly cutting the call short.

In a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mr. Trump said the U.S. would handle the “bad hombres down there” if Mexican authorities did not first. “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Mr. Trump said according to the AP’s account. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

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Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, addresses UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.
Even when the White House staged a Black History Month “Listening Session,” the president spent most of the beginning of the session talking, not listening. He praised the Blacks who have worked with his administration, such as Omarosa Manigault and Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Mr. Trump praised the National Museum of African American History and Culture, but when he did, he seemed to suggest that Frederick Douglass, a 19th-century abolitionist who died in 1895, was still alive. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Mr. Trump said.

Such events are a thin veil over the racist underpinnings of the Trump administration. “How and why they did this is because they’re grand illusionists,” Rep. Pelosi said. “Any time they have a problem with something, they create another problem.”

“It’s a stunning thing, that a White supremacist would be a permanent member of the National Security Council,” Ms. Pelosi said during a news conference in which she claimed that Mr. Trump’s senior adviser Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council could negatively impact the national security of the country. “What’s making America less safe is to have a White supremacist named to the National Security Council as a permanent member while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director of national intelligence are told, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ ” she added.

Mr. Bannon has denied being a White supremacist, telling The Hollywood Reporter in an interview in November, “I’m not a White nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” even as he compared himself in that same interview to Dick Cheney, Darth Vader and Satan.

But what may be more sinister: Official FBI guidelines acknowledge that White supremacists and right-wing extremists have infiltrated U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to a classified 2015 counterterrorism policy guide obtained by The Intercept. “Domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers,” the guide, which explains how individuals qualify for inclusion on a terrorism watchlist, reads.

While the FBI has been aware of this infiltration for some time and raised concerns in a 2006 internal assessment, federal agencies have been wary of discussing the issue publicly. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano even disavowed a 2009 intelligence study warning of the “resurgence” of far-right extremists sparked by President Barack Obama’s election, as The Intercept noted.

The Trump victory has inspired admiration and support from White supremacists at home and abroad. Prominent White nationalist Richard Spencer lauded President Trump’s statement commemorating International Holocaust Memorial Day that failed to mention Jews as a “de-Judaification” of the Holocaust.

And in Greece, members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party held a torchlight parade in Athens, calling for a ban on migrants entering Greece. A member of Parliament in attendance praised President Trump’s ban on Muslim refugees and immigrants. Golden Dawn is the third-largest party in the Greek Parliament. Its members have been arrested for assaulting and murdering immigrants and political opponents, and the group’s emblem is a red-and-black flag resembling a swastika. In October, the party endorsed Donald Trump in the U.S. election.

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