Jan 31 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Eugene Robinson: Trump’s travel ban isn’t about making America safe. It’s about kicking Muslims around.

President Trump’s refugee ban and travel restrictions are a disgraceful exercise in cruelty. They do nothing to make us safer — and may, in fact, make us less safe — but they punish Muslims, and that is his whole point.

Fear and loathing of Islam was one of Trump’s campaign themes. He appealed to those who wrongly see the fight against terrorism as a clash of civilizations between Christian and Muslim worlds — and see Muslim immigrants as a kind of fifth column intent on destroying America from within. [..]

Is Trump just playing politics or is he truly an anti-Muslim bigot who believes this rubbish? At this point, it hardly matters. He has fulfilled his campaign promise by striking a gratuitous blow against would-be immigrants and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Even more shamefully, Trump has barred entry by refugees from all nations worldwide. Perhaps he will have the Statue of Liberty toppled and sold for scrap.

“This is not a Muslim ban,” the president claimed in a statement. But unquestionably it is.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The resistance to Trump is big, diverse and ferocious

Just one full week into Donald Trump’s presidency, the dizzying pace of news has left many of us feeling a sense of political vertigo — and dread. [..]

Add to that a string of controversial Cabinet confirmations and an ever-growing list of executive actions — on issues including the Affordable Care Act, the “global gag rule” on abortion, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, the Mexican border wall, and the grotesque Muslim ban — and it’s hard not to be sickened by it all.

However, Trump’s cascading attacks on the body politic, including instigating a potential constitutional crisis by firing the acting attorney general for ordering Justice Department lawyers not to defend his un-American travel ban, cannot erase the fundamental truth that he does not represent a majority of the American people. The incredible turnout for the Women’s March, which turned out to be the largest single day of mass political action in U.S. history, made that much clear. The resistance to Trump is big, diverse and ferocious, and it’s not going away.

Sam Waterston: The danger of Trump’s constant lying

The great issue of today is lying — constant lying in public. Lying is the ally of faction and, since President Trump’s rise to power, it is the greater danger. Yes, the word is lying — not negotiation, salesmanship, bluster, attention-getting, delusion, deception, braggadocio, exaggeration, bullying, alternative facts, or any other euphemism. Once, President John F. Kennedy could say that our national problems were no longer ideological but technical. Lying on a grand scale has reversed that.

And it’s hard to keep up. Trump has lied about climate change and the character and motives of refugees, about how asylum-seekers have been vetted in the past and how many have been able to enter the United States, about immigrants, and a long list of other matters. As with partisanship, the more lying there is, the worse it is. And Trump’s alternative facts have meant nasty real-world consequences.

As lying comes easily to Trump, it should come first in every report about his administration. Trump doesn’t lie about this and that, and he doesn’t lie sometimes. He is a liar, a person who lies. This news should be reported everywhere.

Richard Wolffe: What connects attacks in Quebec and Charleston? Trump needs to know

One of them shot and stabbed to death Jo Cox. Another massacred nine churchgoers in Charleston. Then six Canadians were gunned down at evening prayers in Quebec City.

It’s long past time to recognize the mortal threats within our own borders. Donald Trump can ban all the Muslims he wants; Justin Trudeau can welcome all the refugees he likes.

But the truth is that white nationalist terrorists are as much of a threat to civilized society as their radical Islamist counterparts. [..]

The great Primo Levi would recognize what connects these men and what is happening to our culture. “The plague is over but the infection spreads: it would be foolish to deny it,” he wrote, more than two decades after he left the Nazi concentration camps.

The scientist survivor was clear about the source of the infection he observed in such clinical detail: “Mainly, at the root of it all, a tide of cowardice, an abysmal cowardice, masked as warrior virtue, love of country, and loyalty to an idea.”

It may be too much to ask the Trump White House to see the point of Primo Levi. After all, Trump’s staff could barely understand the point of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It takes real determination to fumble a simple statement attesting to the extraordinary Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis. Saying you’re very sad about the Shoah, or accusing your critics of being pathetic, merely serves to spread the infection.

Bhaskas Sunkara: The anti-Trump resistance will fail if we don’t ditch establishment Democrats

If the last week has shown us anything, it’s that Donald Trump has power, but he doesn’t have much of a mandate yet.

We need to keep it that way — and be wary of the bad political leadership and strategy that can help him build one. November’s election is a powerful reminder that the Clinton establishment’s mix of socially inclusive rhetoric and neoliberal economics is a weak response to xenophobic populism.

An anti-Trump resistance movement must be broad, but it must direct its anger and energy not just at the enemy in the White House, but the failed leadership that let him get there. The Tea Party movement couldn’t have emerged with Bob Dole and George W Bush among their leaders. We can’t build our anti-Trump resistance, settled with generations of unpopular Democratic party leaders either.

The alternative must come from below — and certainly protests like the Women’s March are inspiring starts. Millions marched, many of whom had never attended a political protest before. It was hopefully a sign of things to come. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.