I’m finding it hard to write about Trump
I write and think about tech with a societal lens. It’s what I’ve done for my whole career, whether founding startups, mentoring them, or working for larger organizations.
When I write, I don’t want to be too hyperbolic. Any time you disappear down a rabbit-hole of “this is the best thing ever!” or “this is the end times”, you run the risk of losing readers and diluting your message. There’s nothing wrong with a passionate message, but I try not to go off the deep end. I have to set myself this rule because I get excited: I want to convey the emotion I’m feeling.
With Trump, we all have to get over this self-censorship. What sounds hyperbolic is actually real. And we need to get over our fear of sounding insane, or of just adding to a cacophony of voices. There is nothing more important than speaking out.
In a more normal Presidency, where the usual rules apply, one might exclaim, “ugh, that’s just like the Nazis,” and it would be both disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust and the people who died in World War II, as well as a reductive generalization that would undermine the nuance of any given political situation.
In a Trump Presidency, it’s alarmingly just like the Nazis. In 1933, shortly after they came to power, they began to publish a list of Jews who had committed crimes, in order to undermine public perception of the Jewish community.
According to Rudy Giuliani, the recent ban on immigration from seven countries of interest was intended as a ban on Muslims. As the Washington Post reported:
“I’ll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”
There is a stated intention to undermine a non-white population in the public eye, ostensibly for our safety. But as the New York Times pointed out, even leaving aside the toxic social implications, immigrants commit fewer crimes:
But several studies, over many years, have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. And experts say the available evidence does not support the idea that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime.
Meanwhile, despite claims to the contrary, even legal green card holders — people who have the right to live and work in the United States after extensive vetting — have been bullied out of residency.
In an L.A. federal court filing Saturday on behalf of Fatema Farmad and Marzieh Moosavizadeh Yazdi, the detainees’ attorneys said the immigration agents’ actions amounted to an attempt to “coerce individuals to sign a form to relinquish their lawful permanent resident status or otherwise withdraw their applications for admission.”
Trump himself comes from a tradition of white supremacy, having been sued by the federal government for refusing to rent to African Americans. His father was famously a member of the KKK, and Trump himself refused to disavow support from white racist groups.
In light of this background, and anti-immigrant actions that defy both common and economic sense (I haven’t even covered removing the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council! Or the mass purge at the State Department!), how do you write about Trump with an even tone?
The simple answer is: you don’t. We’re not so much moving towards a fascist government as careening at it at high speed.
It’s not a time for staying even. It’s a time for sounding the alarm.
As the evidence piles up, and the executive orders continue coming thick and fast, we all have to speak up. In the face of all this, there’s no such thing as not being political. Silence is acquiescence.
Whatever your values, say them loud, and often. We can’t afford to be silent.