Last weekend finds Trump’s administration facing fierce criticism as its first full month in office draws to a close. Trump’s policies on immigration come under fire while he continues to deny allegations of Russian involvement in the election.
On Saturday, The Washington Post reported events that transpired on Wednesday at Houston International Airport when Henry Rousso, “an Egyptian-born French citizen” and a leading Holocaust scholar was detained and almost deported. It was thanks to the quick actions of Texas A&M University that the situation was diffused. Richard Golsan, director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M, explained that “Rousso was ‘mistakenly detained’ by U.S. immigration authorities” in an article in The Washington Post.” Rousso tweeted “the officer who arrested me was ‘inexperienced.’” Issues with Rousso’s treatment are further compounded by the fact that France is “a beneficiary of the U.S. visa waiver program, which permits French citizens to enter the United States without a visa,” as well as the fact that Egypt was never included in the seven countries in the travel ban. Rousso’s lecture was on the Vichy Regime in unoccupied France in WWII and its collaboration with Nazi Germany, where tens of thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps. The irony was not lost on fellow historians, as Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of Italian history with New York University, called out the irony in her tweet, calling “his work on cost of forgetting past (Vichy) so relevant.” Ruth Ben-Ghiat also drew a parallel between Donald Trump and Mussolini’s authoritarian traits in this article from The New Yorker. Read more
As Day 34 under Trump’s administration comes to a tumultuous close, the focus is on strong reactions to anti-immigration and anti-minority policies. Our day starts with the removal of Shepard Fairey’s “We the People” poster series from a Maryland high school. Fairey is known most for his work on the “Hope” posters that became iconic for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign back in 2008. The pictures, depicting women of color framed by the caption “We the People,” intend to convey the idea that “equality, respect, and religious freedom are unassailable American values and non-partisan.” The school administration asked teachers to take down the posters because “they perceived them as ‘political’ and ‘anti-Trump’”, according to the Huffington Post. Fairey felt “very disturb[ed] that someone could find those ideas specifically, and by extension inclusion in general, to be partisan or problematic.” In response, the students have organized a day to wear shirts with the designs printed on them and stand in solidarity with those who feel marginalized by the school’s actions and Trump’s administration. Read more
As Day 32 of Trump’s administration draws to a close, the American people find the position of national security adviser filled by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. After the fiasco earlier last week that led to the resignation of Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, President Trump was quick to fill the role with another high-ranking military official. He even gave his impressive Twitter following a play-by-play of his day, tweeting: “Meeting with Generals at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Very interesting!”
Although both are generals in the United States military, the two men could not differ more in their approaches to certain key issues of U.S. national security, in particular their attitudes on engagement with Russia. Flynn created suspicion when he failed to inform Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had secretly held with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., which led to his very public dismissal. McMaster, on the other hand, is known for his skeptical stance towards engaging Russia, developed during his time as director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.
“He is a man of tremendous talent and experience,” President Trump said, announcing McMaster’s appointment earlier today. McMaster, who has been referred to in the media as a “warrior-scholar,”, is an experienced pick in terms of national security. Judging from his earlier experience in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as his fierce public criticism of the government’s handling of Vietnam in his book, Dereliction of Duty (1997), it seems McMaster may finally be able to bring order to a National Security Council that has reportedly been “rattled and demoralized” by recent events, according to The New York Times.