Warren Blumenfeld's Blog

Social Justice, Intersections in Forms of Social Oppression, Bullying Prevention

“Donald J. Trump is NOT my president!!!!”

without comments

As the title appears, this is what I wrote in large bold letters upon a bright scarlet red background on my Facebook page. I felt this ever since that shockingly dreadful evening last November when Trump won a majority in the Electoral College while losing by over three-million popular votes to Hillary Clinton.

When Trump dumped his tweet storm on our courageous trans service members this week, I felt I finally had enough, and I publicly acknowledged what I had been feeling about Trump for months.

All but one of the comments to my Facebook announcement confirmed my declaration. However, someone I had known for decades wrote:

“Where do you live? He is your President.”

I quickly responded:

“I live in the United States of America, a nation founded and compelled to adhere to a Constitution. Donald Trump does not follow the Constitution and does not adhere to human and civil rights. Therefore, Donald Trump is not my President. Even if he were to follow the Constitution, I have freedom of conscience and freedom of mind. Therefore, I choose not to accept Donald J. Trump as my President. No, He is NOT my President. What part of ‘NOT’ do you not understand?”

I stick to every word in my retort, but I know that the answer is much more complex than a single paragraph could ever capture. My fuller reply begins with a personal story:

My beloved grandfather, Simon Mahler, was born in 1894 in what today is Krosno, Poland. Simon and his parents and large family, which included 13 siblings, were all born and raised in Poland, most of whom died there as well (many killed under the Nazi occupation). While they were born and lived in Poland, they were never considered by Christian Poles (which constituted the vast majority), as being Poles.

Stated another way, while they resided in Poland, they were never considered of Poland.

When my grandfather came to the United States in 1913 and thereafter, he never identified as “Polish American” since he never was accepted as Polish in Poland. He identified rather as “Jewish American,” two descriptors of which he was very proud.

This personal narrative underscores the point that within many if not most countries, some groups of people – classes of people – matter more than others within a hierarchal system that accords those toward the top more citizenship status, benefits, and privileges.

The further down groups of people are placed, constructed, upon this hierarchy, the less status they have, the less ability they have to define themselves, and the less power they have over their lives as they feel the brutal sting of oppression.

Let’s get into the weeds a bit:

Within a patriarchal system of male domination in the United States, for example, cisgender heterosexual Christian upper socioeconomic-class male bodies matter more, while “othered” or “minoritized” bodies matter less. These “othered” bodies include female and intersex bodies, and bodies that violate the “rules” for the reproduction and maintenance of the dominant patriarchal system, such as trans, gender non-conforming, gay, lesbian, and bisexual bodies, and bodies with disabilities.

In addition, within many Western societies like the United States, non-European-heritage bodies are regarded also as abject bodies – bodies that, to use Judith Butler’s phraseology, do not matter, or, at least, do not matter as much as “white” bodies.

Butler reminds us that the term “abjection” is taken from the Latin, ab-jicere, meaning to cast off, away, or out. On a social level, abjection designates a degraded, stigmatized, or cast out status. In psychoanalytic parlance, this is the notion of Verwerfung (foreclosure).

Social theories and anti-fascist activist, Antonio Gramsci, coined the term “subaltern” to describe groups that those with higher status exclude from societal institutions and deny having a voice in the larger society.

Judith Butler states that “we regularly punish those who fail to do their gender right,” and similarly punish those who fail to do their “race” right. Doing one’s “race” right often depends on doing one’s socioeconomic class right. The regulatory regimes of “sex,” “sexuality,” “gender,” “ability,” “race,” and “class” are inimically connected, and these connections are discursively or socially maintained.

Webster’s dictionary defines “oppression” as a noun meaning “the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power” on the individual / interpersonal, institutional, and larger societal levels.

As opposed to “oppression,” I define “social justice” as “the concept that local, national, and global communities function where everyone has equal access to and equitable distribution of the rights, benefits, privileges, and resources, and where everyone can live freely unencumbered by social constructions of hierarchical positions of domination and subordination.”

So a number of critical questions can be asked regarding my statement that “Donald Trump is NOT my president!!!!”

For members of identity groups who live in the United States but are not considered of the United States – at least not to the degree of those constructed further up the hierarchy – is Donald Trump their president too?

For members of identity group placed lower on the hierarchy (the “abject” “subaltern” bodies) and who pay their taxes, could this be considered as “taxation without representation”? In this regard, did King George III of England (not-so affectionately referred to as the “Mad King”) truly “represent” the people living in the American colonies?

Do “we the people” as individuals have the right to whom we consider as “our president” whether officially elected or not?

During the campaign season and after taking office, Donald Trump mocked a disabled reporter; called undocumented Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists; denounced a U.S.-born federal judge on the basis of his ancestry; threatened to reinstate the failed and unconstitutional “stop and frisk” tactics used against primarily people of color; threatened lawsuits on anyone who speaks against him.

He promised to monitor U.S. Muslim residents and impose bans on Muslims entering the U.S.; vowed to reverse women’s reproductive freedoms and marriage equality of same-sex couples; retweets white supremacists’ racist and anti-Jewish propaganda; boils his rally audiences to a fever-pitch by demonizing and bashing the press. And most recently, he highlighted trans people’s already minoritized “other” status in his military ban.

In so doing, Trump did not invent the categories of “abjection,” but he simply reiterated the social hierarchy that was long established for his own personal and political advantage, and to divert attention from the ongoing Russia collusion scandal.

All of us “othered” bodies and our allies must take notice and act to stem the tide and eliminate the divisive and corrosive hierarchy!

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

 

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

July 27th, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.