March 5, 1946, marked the 71st anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech, delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, which also happens to be the alma mater of this writer’s husband. Although he called his speech “The Sinews of Peace” it is most notable for the following line:
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
By trumpeting his nationalistic, isolationist “America First” policies is Trump also seeking to bring down an iron curtain around our country? From trade to immigration, he plans to erect barriers between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Even more disconcerting is the barrier he is erecting between the White House and the press, between the truth and outright lies, and between his die-hard supporters and the rest of the country.
An iron curtain around trade
By abandoning the long-held Republican policy of “free trade” for his what he calls “fair trade” Trump has essentially declared economic war against of our faithful economic partners. According to Trump “fair trade” means enacting exorbitant tariffs (up to 35%) on imported goods and penalizing any U.S. companies who manufacture their products overseas.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of economics realizes that these tariffs, which are in truth taxes, will be passed along to the American consumer in the form of higher prices for most of the everyday purchases we make. From avocados from Mexico to televisions from Korea, prices will be going up.
Trump also plans to lower corporate taxes on American companies which he continues to falsely claim are, at 35%, the highest in the world. While it is true that some companies relocate their headquarters overseas to take advantage of lower tax rates, do not be fooled into thinking that lower corporate tax rates will result in lower prices for their products. It will go to the corporate bottom line with improved profits for the company. It will also mean less revenue for the government to pay for Trump’s infrastructure and healthcare plans, as well as his fabulous wall.
An iron curtain around immigration
Restricting immigration was a central tenet of Trump’s campaign and it seems to be the one campaign promise he is determined to keep. Remember his reading of the lyrics of the song “The Snake” at nearly every campaign rally? He called for a total ban against any Muslims entering the U.S. “until we figure out what’s going on?”
His first attempt at restricting Muslim immigration by executive order resulted in a fiasco of unbelievable proportions. Despite his cry of “WE’LL SEE YOU IN COURT!” his administration rolled out a modified version of the initial order yesterday that they hope will pass muster in the federal courts.
He is still determined to keep out the “bad hombres” from Mexico, even if it means separating mothers from their children at the border. His round-up of criminal immigrants already in the U.S. have so far included a DACA student trying to renew her status, a woman seeking a restraining order against her abuser, and a man who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
An iron curtain around the press
Trump’s war against the lying, failed media, except those that like him such as Breitbart and The National Enquirer, reached epic proportions when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently banned seven major U.S. news organizations from an untelevised press “gaggle.” Most foreign news services, including the BBC, were also banned, although the Russian propaganda outlet RT was admitted.
Since then, Spicer has held relatively few press conferences, and most of those had no television or photographers. Perhaps he was avoiding giving SNL more material for their weekly skits.
To date, the State Department has yet to hold one single press briefing in this administration, while the Secretary of State has been conspicuously quiet in making any statements to the press.
An iron curtain around the truth.
In fact, the main source of news coming from the White House has been Trump’s erratic, irrational tweets. His Saturday morning rants about “wiretapping” of his campaign by the Obama administration without providing any basis for his claims might well lead to a constitutional crisis not seen since the Nixon administration.
Certain fact checkers have reported 61 outright lies in last week’s address to a joint session of Congress. If not an outright lie, his claims regarding the use of U.S. steel in the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines were definitely misleading. Trump said that U.S. steel would be used by American companies building American pipelines. While many are now denouncing the “exemption” granted to the Keystone Pipeline project, they failed to note that Keystone is Canadian owned and operated and, therefore, never subject to Trump’s directive.
An iron curtain around Trump
Since his inauguration, Trump has erected walls around walls within his administration. While former Apprentice star Omarosa has “walk-in” privileges for the Oval Office, his National Security Advisor does not. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
Multiple reports or leaks coming from within the White House depict a man who spends hours watching television, ignoring intelligence briefings and scouring newspaper reports for any stories about himself. They also describe a man prone to rages about poor coverage, lack of support in Congress, and any perceived weakness by him or his administration.
Trump himself has been singularly unavailable to the public. He spends his weekdays holed up in the White House while spending nearly every weekend at his private club Mar-A-Lago. There he interacts only with people who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of access to the President. And he plays golf. Lots and lots of golf. This from the man who claimed during his campaign that he wouldn’t have any time to play golf because he would be so busy working for the people.
Mr. Trump, tear down these curtains
This should be the cry of all Americans, whether they support Trump or not. Yes, we can control immigration, but we don’t need to build an iron wall around America. Responsible, carefully thought out trade policies can help American industry, not an iron wall against the rest of the world. The accredited press should have reasonable to policy briefings from the White House. And the American people deserve the truth, not conspiracy theories promoted by Breitbart and Infowars, from their President.
Churchill ended his 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech with an optimistic look at the future.
“If we faithfully adhere to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of man; if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the highroads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.”