By Jeff Adachi
It’s been less than a week since our nation’s massive political earthquake, and we’re now suffering the aftershocks: emboldened white nationalists, a rise in hate crimes, and a heightened sense of suspicion of our fellow Americans.
The reality of a Trump Presidency is sinking in. Deemed the ‘cabinet from hell,’ the architects of the impending political Armageddon include Breitbart News Executive Stephan Bannon, whose publication foments racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant resentment; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who defended the ‘stop and frisk’ law which Trump has promised to restore; David Clarke, the black Milwaukee sheriff who has publicly denounced ‘Black Lives Matter” and compared it to ISIS; Lucas Oil Founder Forrest Lucas, who has declared war against animal activists; Kris Kobach, the Kansas anti-immigration activist who wrote the infamous “show me your papers” law that was later overturned as unconstitutional, as well as Trump loyalists such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.
There can be no question they will attempt to overwrite many of the core American values we have taken for granted under President Obama’s administration.
As we recover from our collective shock, one thing is clear: progressives must act swiftly to preserve our values and to protect those who are most at risk under a Trump administration: immigrants, ethnic and religious minorities, women, and anyone else they choose to target. While Trump will have his hands full when his campaign promises collide with the realities of governing, we must continue to protest and make it clear that we will not allow Trump to trample on the rights of those most vulnerable.
It’s as true in war as it is in basketball: The best defense is a good offense.
We must begin preparing for these attacks just as anyone would prepare against an enemy onslaught. By gathering and organizing, we can succeed in meeting their policy directives head on, and aggressively advocating against them. For example, we know that their immigration policies will promote mass raids, deportations, forced cooperation with ICE and Homeland Security and denial of entry for refugees based on country of origin. We must assemble our army of lawyers and immigration advocates to design our agenda of resistance and more importantly, to begin working with those who will be affected so they have a support network in place before the attacks begin.
Likewise, America’s 31 sanctuary cities, which provide protection and support to undocumented immigrants, should unite and make it clear that we will not be blackmailed into changing our core values. America’s sanctuary cities include the largest and prominent urban centers, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle.
Our mayors and elected officials can form a powerful resistance against the anti-immigration forces.
We must encourage other cities to pass laws now that protect immigrants against unconstitutional government action and create a critical mass that would cause a Trump administration to think twice about proposing inhumane laws. And Trump’s campaign promise to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities must be rendered dead on arrival.
We should also expect that racism and scapegoating will continue and work with the ACLU and other anti-hate groups to fight back and support targeted communities. Whether or not Trump continues the rhetoric of his campaign, the die has been cast and hate-fueled attacks against people of color, Muslims, Middle-Easterners and others will continue. Trump has said that he would require all Muslims to register on a national database and supports tagging Muslims on the government watch list with electronic monitors to keep track of their whereabouts. These acts are reminiscent of the internment of Japanese Americans, an act which President Ronald Reagan redressed in 1988 when he signed the Civil Liberties Act, stating “here we admit a wrong and we reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice.” We cannot make the same mistake again.
Finally, we must talk to our children about what may lie ahead, to help prepare them for the world that awaits and to instill the progressive values and ideals which have distinguished our country as one that stands for diversity, tolerance and equality. It is now more important than ever that they fully understand the true history of our county, beginning with the Native American genocide, slavery and its legacy, Jim Crow, the exclusionary laws used against Asians and Latinos and the fight for civil rights, gender and marriage equality that still continues today. Most of all, they must feel that they have a voice and a place in the fight for a better country. Certainly, the thousands of students flooded San Francisco’ s City Hall two days after the election and the young people who are protesting all over the country understand that the time is act is now. And with less than 70 days to go before the Trump administration takes over, the clock is ticking.
Jeff Adachi is San Francisco Public Defender