Freedom, equality and justice are typically considered traditional American values.
Our nation’s most valuable and respected documents — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — state these values as rights of all Americans.
As a nation, we are often quick to proclaim that we operate according to these foundational values, but are they actually being upheld in our society?
The answer to that question is an indisputable “no.”
Our country recently elected a president who ran a campaign that contradicted these principles and recently undermined them through his actions.
In recent months, the world has watched and waited as a historic transition of power transpired.
The general attitude toward President Donald J. Trump leading up to his inauguration seemed to be that he would not follow through with the promises he repeated throughout his campaign.
The public functioned with the naive assumption that Trump wouldn’t build the border wall or continue discrediting the reality of climate change.
Americans often rejected the reality, with such statements as, “He won’t build the wall,” or, “He can’t actually deny climate change.”
After exhibiting classic symptoms of denial, many Americans now stand in disbelief as the first week of the Trump presidency proved to be nothing short of devastating. By day seven of his presidency, Trump acted in ways which clearly jeopardize American values — the same values stated in our beloved Constitution.
On day seven, Trump signed an executive order stating Americans’ taxes would fund the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Trump’s order immediately heightened tensions between the two countries, as Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, canceled a scheduled meeting with Trump.
Aside from dealing with the diplomatic fallout of this exchange, Trump is laying the groundwork for rocky economic relations with Mexico, which is the third largest trade partner for the United States.
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order suspending entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking entry into the country for 90 days for citizens of seven Musllim-majority countries: Iran,
Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The United States was founded as a nation of immigrants, so it’s not American by any means to turn our backs on immigrants, refugees or those affiliated with a religion who are simply searching for a better, safer life.
In addition to stating that climate change is a hoax, Trump has undoubtedly endangered the constitutional right of freedom of speech, forbidding employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from revealing facts regarding climate change, according to the Associated Press.
Trump has also advised the EPA to remove its webpage regarding climate change, effectively posing a threat to the public’s right to environmental information.
Trump also approved the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines after former President Barack Obama halted their construction. As a result, land that a treaty protects will be compromised, and the water source of the Sioux Native American tribe is at risk for contamination.
Trump’s actions this past week have been emotionally jarring, to say the least. How do we, as citizens, respond? How do we remain free citizens under a president who has the potential to diminish our rights with the executive orders he issues? How do we remind our leaders that all people are created equal?
This twisted dilemma extends further than politics. The executive orders Trump is signing are not a matter of proving he won the election or exerting his power as the POTUS.
They are about the tragic repercussions that will plague our American brothers and sisters as a result of these orders. They are about the fact that Trump’s actions are truly making America anything but great.
I don’t know how our country, founded firmly on human rights and freedoms, got to this point. I don’t know the cause behind these circumstances, and I don’t know what’s coming next.
But I do know that the American people will not be silent. Our history has not been easy, and the present time is surely no exception.
Mr. President, I urge you to remember that we are a nation founded on the rights of the people.
Like those who came before us in the fight for equality, justice and freedom, we the people will use our voices. We will march. And we will resist.