Ireland's opposition to Donald Trump requires real courage

IT IS not too difficult to imagine one of the many comedians whose careers have been energised since Donald Trump was elected presenting an Oval Office sketch suggesting that Mr Trump demanded that his advisors fire the “so-called judge” who blocked his travel ban. 

Mr Trump has, after all, sacked an acting attorney general because she had the temerity to question his diktat, one that ignored the primary sources of terrorist attacks on the west. That Sally Yates may be vindicated just adds to the tragic farce.

Showing a disconcerting comfort with the idea of government by fiat, America’s acting solicitor general, Noel Francisco, argued in a circuit court of appeals in San Francisco on Saturday that presidential authority is “largely immune from judicial control” when deciding who can enter or stay in America. The judge has asked for full arguments this afternoon so the issue remains undecided. However, that process, one that should be hermetically-sealed from political interference, is under a threat alien to the protection a democracy should afford its courts and its laws.

Mr Trump mocked district judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” ruling “will be overturned”. That response is as chilling as it is unhinged. His totalitarianism would be shocking anywhere at anytime. In America, where liberty is so very proudly trumpeted as a national way of life, it seems another step towards an uno duce una voce darkness — one that will embolden others who aspire to become a Trump in their own country.

This is not the first time Mr Trump has attacked a judge. Before he was elected, he attacked the judge in the Trump University case. In that case, Mr Trump paid $25m in compensation to prevent a fraud case against him going ahead.

The travel ban is intervention is just another in what should be regarded as a roll-back of the precepts that define a civilisation. Just last Thursday, the Republican-dominated Senate voted to repeal a rule limiting mining companies dumping mining waste in streams. The advocates of the reversal suggested the move could halt the coal sector’s decline. The Senate overturned the Stream Protection Rule as part of a campaign to reverse what they see as over-regulation of the fossil energy sector. Even America’s staunchest allies must be appalled by this lemmings’ determination to rejuvenate an anachronistic industry so very active in the destruction of this planet’s climate.

As America tries to cope with this roller-coaster ride, the debate about whether Taoiseach Enda Kenny should go to the White House for the traditional St Patrick’s Day love-in continues. Leaving aside the two fingers given to Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Kenny’s choices are limited. Go and dare to defend long-cherished principles and face a Trump tirade; go and dishonestly pretend all is normal, or protest, no matter how ineffectively, by staying at home. Despite today’s he-must-go concensus, only one of those options requires courage, only one is a dignified response to the thuggery unfolding in America. Only one of those options shows that our principles outweigh our fears.


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