How 2017 Became an Absolutely Horrible Year

Horrible year

“Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.” Eugene Robinson

By Brody Levesque | The November 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, set off reverberations globally across more than just the political spectrum. At home in the United States, Trump has given way to influencing, indeed, affirming those segments of the American populace prone to racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic behaviors—encouraging them to publicly utter horrid things and take ugly actions not so nakedly displayed in decades.

“Annus horribilis” means “horrible year” in Latin. The world got to know the phrase 25 years ago when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II used it during her televised speech marking the 40th anniversary of her Accession to the throne. At the time. Most assumed she was really referring to the embarrassing public divorce & ensuing scandals associated between her son Prince Charles and the British public’s beloved Princess Diana.

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” said the Queen with a look of pure authenticity. “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’ I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.”

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson nails down the sentiment it seems most save for Trump’s die hard supporters felt about this past year: “Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.”

There has been a never-ending parade roll-backs, repeals, or undoing of Federal regulatory oversight and previous presidential executive actions which, according to Rolling Stone Magazine’s Tessa Stuart; “The decision[s] were motivated by the fact that Trump didn’t want anything – no matter how popular or uncontroversial – going through if it was endorsed by President Obama.”

In yet just another of an ongoing number of unpresidential examples, Trump seemingly embraced Neo-Nazis and white supremacists after the Charlottesville, Virginia “alt-right” march this past August.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” Trump said speaking to reporters in New York on August 15. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

“I’ve condemned Neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were Neo-Nazis, believe me,” he said.

“You had many people in that group other than Neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said.

More recently though, just three days before Christmas, for instance, a 17-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed the parents of his 16-year-old girlfriend in their Reston, Virginia home. Scott Fricker, and Buckley Kuhn-Fricker had forbidden their daughter to see him after they discovered a Twitter account linked to the teen. The teen retweeted tweets praising Hitler, made derogatory comments about Jews, called for “white revolution,” and showed an image of a man hanging from a noose beneath a slur for gays, among other objectionable content, the Washington Post reported.

Weeks before according to the Post, the boy’s neighbors had been distressed to find a 40-foot wide Nazi Swastika mowed into a community field with a trail leading back to the home he shared with his parents. Apparently, no actions were taken as Fairfax County Police told local reporters they were not made aware of that incident.

Was this somehow Trump-inspired owing to his refusal to condemn the vitriolic statements and discriminatory behaviours expressed by his Neo-Nazi & White Supremacist supporters or was this an isolated incident?

Then there has been Trump’s never ending barrage of tweets, falsehoods, and attacks. Upon the press, private citizens, and even the government itself including those institutions and agencies who are at the very heart of protecting citizens, in particular the FBI. In many ways what exacerbates these issues are the fact that White Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders along with other administration officials have launched a vigorous defence of Trump, with Press Secretary Sanders oft times openly engaging in a patronising way with the White House Press Corps and often repeating the fabricated stories from her boss.

Defying naysayers and the critics Trump himself tweeted “So many things accomplished by the Trump Administration, perhaps more than any other President in first year. Sadly, will never be reported correctly by the Fake News Media!”

There has not been a segment of the American populace left unaffected by Trump and his policies.. For minority communities and marginalised groups, the effect has been more damaging.

For the LGBTQI community, this past year under Trump was fraught with emotion from the move to ban Trans Service in the U.S. Armed Services, to his elimination and erasure of an LGBTQI presence on the White House website as well as across the

Federal Government. Then 2017 ends with his firing the entire HIV-Aids presidential advisory group.

But the year ended up being a mixed bag, While there’s not enough space in one article to list all the year’s noteworthy LGBTQI news, here’s a roundup of some of the year’s biggest stories via NBC OUT:

HISTORIC POLITICAL WINS

From Virginia’s House of Delegates to Seattle’s Office of the Mayor, LGBTQ Americans scored historic victories across the U.S. this year.

The year’s most notable win is perhaps that of Virginia’s Danica Roem, whose victory over 11-term Republican incumbent Bob Marshall will make her the first openly transgender person to be seated in a U.S. state legislature when she takes office in January.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

From the bathroom to the battlefield, 2017 has seen a series of attempts to roll back transgender rights.

In February, just one month after President Trump took office, his administration formally rescinded Obama-era guidance that permitted transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

In a series of unexpected early morning tweets in July, President Trump attempted to reverse U.S. policy by announcing the military would “not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity.” The tweets left the nation in shock and thousands of currently serving transgender people in the dark. The social media posts also set off months of lawsuits and court cases, but after four federal judges blocked Trump’s attempted ban, trans people are expected to be able to enlist in the military starting Jan. 1.

In October, the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Trump appointee Jeff Sessions, released a memo asserting that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. The memo refers specifically to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The memo directly contradicts a 2014 memo issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which made explicit the DOJ’s position that Title VII does protect trans employees.

ANTI-LGBTQI VIOLENCE

The number of hate crimes committed in the U.S. rose 5 percent in 2016, compared to the year before, according to data gathered from local law enforcement agencies by the FBI. The data, which was released in November, found an increase in hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in 2016 compared to the previous year. Of the 7,615 known hate crime victims, 1,255 of them were targeted due to sexual-orientation bias, accounting for nearly one in six hate crime victims. The number of victims targeted due anti-transgender bias also increased — from 76 in 2015 to 111 in 2016. 2017 however was matching the previous year especially in the murders of Trans persons, more often Trans women of colour. Twenty-seven homicides of transgender Americans have been reported in 2017, matching the total for 2016, which was the deadliest year on record for Trans Americans. The numbers in fact may be higher according to the U. S. Justice Department which notes that the differences in reporting and methodology by American law enforcement agencies can affect the actual number.

THE COURTS

President Donald Trump has made considerable progress in reshaping the federal courts. After inheriting 120 federal judicial vacancies, Trump has made 59 appointments to fill the seats, and the Senate has so far approved of 18 of them.

LGBTQ advocates have raised concerns over his appointees. Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights group, said roughly one third of Trump’s judicial picks have anti-LGBTQ records.

“This burden will be hitting the people who need the protection of the courts the most,” Sharon McGowan, director of strategy at Lambda Legal told NBC News. “As unpopular as this president is, he has the opportunity to install over 100 federal judges who will serve the rest of their lives.”

Another impacted group has been the immigrant community, with the greatest negative affects on the “Dreamers.’

[…] ‘Dreamers’ have grown up in this country and consider themselves to be American, but lack the documents to fully participate in society, which – in some cases – means that they are unable to pursue college or university or enlist into the U.S. Armed Services. In many other cases it means they labor at jobs under the table or on a daily cash basis. After numerous attempts to pass the legislation even with nearly 70% of Americans in support, in 2012 then U.S. President Barack Obama announced a temporary program that allowed Dreamers to come forward, pass a criminal background check, pay hundreds of dollars, and apply for work permits. The program is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA for short.

In September of this year, an Executive Action by President Donald Trump effectually squashed those hopes.\ Now, nearly two months after Trump officially rescinded the program and essentially dumped the burden of passing the DACA legislation in the laps of the Republican majority-led Congress, there appears to be little in the way of substantive action regarding the decidedly needed legislation.

Congress recessed for the holidays and after passing a massive tax bill but took no action on DACA.

Politics over this past year has also turned more toxic and polarised than ever before seen in the political spectrum as Claire Galofaro, a senior political reporter from the Associated Press wrote noting about Trump supporters; “The allegiance of Trump’s supporters is as emotional as it is economic. He’s punching at all the people who let them down for so long: “He’s already done enough to get my vote again, without a doubt.”

It means God, guns, patriotism, saying “Merry Christmas” and not Happy Holidays. It means validation of their indignation about a changing nation: gay marriage and immigration and factories moving overseas. It means tearing down the political system that neglected them again and again in favor of the big cities that feel a world away.

On those counts, they believe Trump has delivered, even if his promised blue-collar renaissance has not yet materialized. He’s punching at all the people who let them down for so long — the presidential embodiment of their own discontent.”

Lecia Brooks, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Director of Outreach said, “It’s been an awful year with this administration pushing back on human/civil rights across the board It is disconcerting & frightening.” She noted that there have been bright spots such as the Woman’s March & Movement coupled with the MeToo movement, there’s still been harshness as seen by the circumstances leading to the death of peace-activist Heather D. Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.

Brooks also pointed out that there continues to be a resurgence in resistance and activism   citing the example of the contentious and highly controversial Alabama special senatorial race where the Black Women voters “saved the day, despite efforts to repress their vote. People get to a point that enough is enough.”

The other overriding concerns of not only the SPLC but other civil rights advocates is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions turning back the clock on mass incarceration and sentencing guidelines.

“Session would have us return to the Trump Law & Order campaign theme,” Brooks said. “Worse though is also the fascist style ICE round ups on Immigration Sessions and his DOJ is literally moving Immigrants to rural areas in an effort disappear them’ before family’s realise and then deport them.”

But she adds that some of the events of 2017, for the first time has made it possible that maybe a real conversation about racism in the United States will be addressed.

There are no easy answers but Brooks is hopeful that a people movement will spur on the resistance to Trump, Sessions, and those who would hinder racial equality, LGBTQI equality, and human rights.

Other major stories that affected the American nation in 2017 also included: (and linked)

The Mueller Investigation

Greater Tensions with North Korea

The #MeToo Movement

The Massacres in Las Vegas and Texas

The Opioid Epidemic

The Devastating Hurricane Season

The End of Net Neutrality

One take away as 2017 ends said one political pundit, is that at least with 2018 there will be a chance to redeem the failures of the administration and to put the brakes on further erosion of a functioning people oriented not corporately oriented government as the resistance grows in opposition to Trump and the GOP led Congress.

One could credibly have the impression that the Queen twenty five years ago could have been talking about 2017 as it too is ending with a certain air of bleakness and uncertainty.

Reporting by Brody Levesque for NCRM, NBC News, CBS News, Agency France Presse, Associated Press & the New York and Los Angeles Times

 

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