Trump Embraces ‘Enemy of the People,’ a Phrase With a Fraught History

From The New York Times:

MOSCOW — The phrase was too toxic even for Nikita Khrushchev, a war-hardened veteran communist not known for squeamishness. As leader of the Soviet Union, he demanded an end to the use of the term “enemy of the people” because “it eliminated the possibility of any kind of ideological fight.”

“The formula ‘enemy of the people,’” Mr. Khrushchev told the Soviet Communist Party in a 1956 speech denouncing Stalin’s cult of personality, “was specifically introduced for the purpose of physically annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader.

It is difficult to know if President Trump is aware of the historic resonance of the term, a label generally associated with despotic communist governments rather than democracies. But his decision to unleash the terminology has left some historians scratching their heads. Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?

Nina Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of Mr. Khrushchev and a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York, said the phrase was “shocking to hear in a non-Soviet, moreover non-Stalinist setting.” Her great-grandfather, she said, “of course also used Soviet slogans and ideological idioms but still tried to stay away from sweeping denunciations of whole segments of the Soviet population.”

In Mr. Trump’s case, however, he is branding as enemies a segment of the American population — specifically representatives of what he calls the “fake news” media, including The New York Times.

He has used the phrase more than once, including Friday during an attack on the news media at a conservative gathering in which he said that some reporters were making up unnamed sources to attack him.

“A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people because they have no sources — they just make it up,” the president said, adding that the label applied only to “dishonest” reporters and editors. Hours later, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, barred journalists from several news organizations, including The Times, from attending a briefing in his office.

By using the phrase and placing himself in such infamous company, at least in his choice of vocabulary to attack his critics, Mr. Trump has demonstrated, Ms. Khrushcheva said, that the language of “autocracy, of state nationalism is always the same regardless of the country, and no nation is exempt.” She added that, in all likelihood, Mr. Trump had not read Lenin, Stalin or Mao Zedong, but the “formulas of insult, humiliation, domination, branding, enemy-forming and name calling are always the same.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The phrase “enemy of the people” first entered the political lexicon in 1789, with the French Revolution. The revolutionaries initially used it as a slogan that was hurled willy-nilly at anybody who opposed them. But, as resistance to the revolution mounted, the term acquired a far more lethal and legalistic meaning with the adoption of a 1794 law that set up a revolutionary tribunal “to punish enemies of the people” and codified political crimes punishable by death. These included “spreading false news to divide or trouble the people.”

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Why are Trans People Banned from Bathrooms?

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Blaming the Klan on modern Democrats is like blaming the Unabomber on the Montana Territory

From The Washington Post:

March 1, 2017

Among the few points of agreement among members of the two major political parties is that the Ku Klux Klan is bad. This has not always been an agreed-upon position — for years, the Klan actively endorsed political candidates — and it’s not a uniformly held position by everyone in either party. But as a general rule, the Klan is a mutually agreed-upon bad thing.

What that means, though, is that the Klan is also then used as a way of disparaging political opponents. For example, there’s this, retweeted by prominent conservative Dinesh D’Souza during President Trump’s speech on Tuesday night.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) declared his political opponents “the party of the Ku Klux Klan” last month. Cruz doesn’t mean that members of the Klan are all Democrats today, something that would be unexpected in part because the heavy concentration of black voters in the party. He meant that Democrats are responsible for the Klan, which is a well-worn trope on the right. Which is why he said it.

Virginia Commonwealth University created a map that shows the spread of the Klan during its resurgence a century ago. Here’s the spread of local Klan organizations from 1915 to 1940.

By 1920, the Klan had broken out of the Alabama-Georgia region into other Deep South states — and into Richmond. That’s a reminder of the real genesis of the Klan, half a century before VCU’s animation. It was born as a reaction to the Richmond-based Confederacy’s defeat in the Civil War and initially manifested as an effort to tamp down on the incipient political and social standing of freed black slaves.

It was, as Cruz and D’Souza will surely note, a Republican president — the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln — who freed the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation freed those held in bondage in Confederate states in 1863; the 13th Amendment, passed before but ratified after Lincoln’s death, eliminated slavery nationally. The first rift between the two parties was a rift that overlapped with views of slavery: the Republican/Union North and the Democratic/Confederate South.

Put another way: The people who started the Klan were probably Democrats, just as they were mostly Southerners. That’s the early Klan, that emerged during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War in Tennessee. The reemergent Klan of the 1910s was also started in the South, as the animation above indicates, and at the time, those states were still Democratic. It’s more fair to credit the geography with creating the Klan than it is the politics, since we can at least be certain of geographic origin. The political aims of the Klan overlapped with the political aims of Democrats after the war and a century ago, but there’s no indication that the party deliberately created the organization any more than there is an indication that Canada deliberately created Nickelback.

Better: It’s like blaming the Unabomber on the Montana Territory — pinning fault on a sort-of-recognizable but not-really-related thing that also doesn’t exist anymore. It’s critical to point out that talking about the Democratic Party of early 20th century Alabama is like talking about Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in relation to the iPhone. It’s … not really the same thing.

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BREAKING: Major Companies Join Amicus Brief Supporting Trans Student Gavin Grimm in G.G. v Glouce

From HRC:


By Allison Turner
March 2, 2017

Today, HRC announced that 53 major U.S. companies have joined a “friend of the court” brief supporting transgender student Gavin Grimm in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. Grimm, a transgender boy, filed suit against the school board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom.

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case could have far-reaching consequences for transgender students across the nation.

“These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn’t just shameful — it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk. Transgender students like Gavin are entitled to the full protection of the law, and must be affirmed, respected and protected in the classroom and beyond.”

Leading American businesses have long expressed a commitment to LGBTQ diversity and inclusion in their workforces as evidenced by inclusive policies, practices and benefits. Businesses realize being inclusive is not only the right thing to do — it just makes good business sense as well. Companies that are inclusive of LGBTQ people and employees with LGBTQ family members are able to attract and retain the best and brightest across a wide spectrum of diversity, reap the benefits from increased engagement and productivity, and actively participate in the vibrant LGBTQ consumer marketplace.

Having built inclusive workplaces for their transgender employees or even transgender dependents of employees, companies have a vested interest in the legal landscape in which those employees and their dependents live, work or go to school.

The 53 companies, representing over 1.3 million employees and $613 billion in revenue, signing the brief are:

Affirm, Inc., Airbnb, Inc.,, Inc., Apple, Asana, Inc., Box, Inc., Codecademy, Credo Mobile, Inc., Dropbox, Inc., eBay Inc., Etsy, Fastly, Inc., Flipboard, Inc., Gap Inc., General Assembly, GitHub, Inc., IBM, Intel Corporation, Kickstarter, PBC, Knotel, Inc., LinkedIn, Lyft, M Booth, MAC Cosmetics Inc., Mapbox, Inc., Marin Software Incorporated, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Microsoft Corporation, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, MongoDB Inc., NetApp, Inc., Next Fifteen Communications Corporation, Nextdoor, Pandora Media, Inc., PayPal Holdings, Inc., Postmates Inc., Replacements, Ltd., RetailMeNot, Inc., Salesforce, Shutterstock, Inc., Slack Technologies, Inc., Spotify, The OutCast Agency, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Tumblr, Inc., Twilio Inc., Twitter Inc., Udacity, Inc., Warby Parker, Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Yelp Inc., Zendesk, Inc.

The brief is was authored by BakerHostetler, one of the nation’s largest law firms.

In June, a federal court ordered the Gloucester County School Board to allow Grimm full access to the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity, consistent with a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, the Supreme Court of the United States halted the lower court’s order, allowing the school board’s discriminatory policy to remain in place while the court awaited an application by the school board to have its full appeal heard.

48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General and a day after being sworn in, the Department of Justice moved to eliminate the Obama Administration’s challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing the nationwide hold to continue. Despite this action, transgender students facing discrimination can still file suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Allowing transgender people to access facilities consistent with their gender identity — something compelled for years by laws in 18 states as well as embraced by hundreds of cities and school districts around the country — has not resulted in problems. On the other hand, forcing transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities contrary to their identity can impose real harm on transgender students, further compounding the discrimination and marginalization they already face.

recent study correlated the high suicide rates of transgender students with discriminatory bathroom restrictions, and, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, more than 50 percent of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.


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The Uses of Outrage

From The New York Times:

Feb. 27, 2017

Are you angry about the white nationalist takeover of the U.S. government? If so, you are definitely not alone. The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been marked by huge protests, furious crowds at congressional town halls, customer boycotts of businesses seen as Trump allies. And Democrats, responding to their base, have taken a hard line against cooperation with the new regime.

But is all this wise? Inevitably, one hears some voices urging everyone to cool it — to wait and see, to try to be constructive, to reach out to Trump supporters, to seek ground for compromise.

Just say no.

Outrage at what’s happening to America isn’t just justified, it’s essential. In fact, it may be our last chance of saving democracy.

Even in narrowly partisan terms, Democrats would be well advised to keep listening to their base. Anyone who claims that being seen as obstructionist will hurt them politically must have slept through the past couple of decades. Were Democrats rewarded for cooperating with George W. Bush? Were Republicans punished for their scorched-earth opposition to President Obama? Get real.

It’s true that white working-class voters, the core of Donald Trump’s support, don’t seem to care about the torrent of scandal: They won’t turn on him until they realize that his promises to bring back jobs and protect their health care were lies. But remember, he lost the popular vote, and would have lost the Electoral College if a significant number of college-educated voters hadn’t been misled by the media and the F.B.I. into believing that Hillary Clinton was somehow even less ethical than he was. Those voters are now having a rude awakening, and need to be kept awake.

Outrage may be especially significant for the 2018 midterm elections: the districts that will determine whether Democrats can take back the House next year have both relatively well-educated voters and large Hispanic populations, both groups likely to care about Trump malfeasance even if the white working class doesn’t (yet).

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