Well, 2016 was fun, right? And we’ve all been wallowing in the not-fun for a couple of weeks now at the very least. I personally am tired of the wallowing. I’ve decided to put some of my money where my mouth is and commit to regular donations to a bunch of charities. I have come to understand that there is real non-monetary value in committed, regular donations, rather than my usual random one-off impulses. So I decided to pick some and actually do it.
There are a lot of great charities, and I was a little overwhelmed, so I made a small list of issues that are important to me, and then sorted the charities that way: sexism, racism, the planet, etc. At first I had “Donald Trump” on the list as an issue all unto itself. But then I realized these issues are kind of ALL about Donald Trump, right now, for me, so that wasn’t very useful. And then I realized maybe Trump himself was a great way to work through this. So I let my future president’s own words help me prioritize some issues.
On refugees: “We cannot let them into this country, period. …We have no idea who these people are.” The International Rescue Committee helps refugees (fully vetted and documented!) as they adjust to their new lives after their old ones were destroyed by conflict.
On the media: “We’re going to have people sue [journalists] like you’ve never got sued before.” The Committee to Protect Journalists works to defend the fourth estate as it performs its absolutely necessary role of monitoring governments and informing citizens. We have to demand that journalists do that job properly, of course, but in the meantime CPJ can help have their backs.
On Black Lives Matter: “I think they’re trouble. I think they’re looking for trouble.” Or, they’re looking to address structural injustice, end violence, guarantee democratic rights, and organize the masses. There isn’t a single real “Black Lives Matter” organization, so I went with Campaign Zero. It’s associated with some individuals I have come to admire, but I also really like their very concrete policy orientation.
On the environment: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Yeah, okay. Greenpeace: The original envirohippies.
On, as he calls them, “the gays”: “I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.” This is blandly innocuous language for a man whose vice-president believes in redirecting HIV funding into conversion therapy programs, and who himself has promised to repeal gay marriage rights and support “religious” discrimination against non-heterosexual people. The country’s oldest national LGBTQ advocacy group is the National LGBTQ Task Force.
On cheap, reliable, easily available women’s health clinics: “I would defund [Planned Parenthood] because of the abortion factor, which they say is 3 percent. I don’t know what percentage it is. They say it’s 3%. But I would defund it, because I’m pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.” Okay, so, as recently as February 2016, the Donald still hadn’t quite straightened out how he felt about this issue. But as the campaign went on he moved loudly and clearly toward “defund,” culminating in his rant during a debate that “in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb” (pro tip: you can’t). Whether I’m agreeing or disagreeing with Trump’s current policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America gets my dollars.
On Muslims: “I think Islam hates us.” Just for starters. I have lived among and loved a whole lot of people who would disagree. Certainly being Muslim should never be a reason for harrassment or legal exploitation in our country. So I’m backing the Muslim Legal Fund of America, which will help support the most egregious infractions of this kind. (Bonus: donations are zakat-eligible!)
On the rule of law: I can’t even start with quotes on this. The most recent: “If they do [burn flags], there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship.” Both flag-burning and loss of citizenship have already been addressed by the Supreme Court. Despite Trump’s occasional confusion about what it means (see the stop-and-frisk controversy), being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court actually means a given thing isn’t available in our arsenal. Especially for punishing things that have been ruled protected speech by the same court. All politics aside, the American Civil Liberties Union is girding its loins for this kind of careful legal explanation over the next 4 years, including with this fun banner ad:
On bigotry: “I don’t know anything about David Duke. I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” To be fair, the next day Trump clarified that he just hadn’t understood the topic to be that KKK, because of a broken earpiece and a spotty memory. But that refusal-to-disavow-and-then-disavowal is a pattern that has led to his enthusiastic endorsement by some of the most hateful groups in the world. The Southern Poverty Law Center does many wonderful things (including related to issues listed already in this post) and keeps a careful eye on the kinds of people who think a Trump presidency is a green light for bigotry.
On sciencey research: “Our efforts to support research and public health initiatives will have to be balanced with other demands for scarce resources.” This isn’t the scariest thing Trump has ever said, but his overall approach to science, scientific organization, brain immigration, stem-cell research, and other relevant issues has caused the biomedical community concern already. There are many ways to address this, but I’m choosing to directly support research into two diseases affecting two of my closest family members: the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Last but not least: I think one of the more important things we all probably need to do right now is find some joy. Gratuitous, silly joy. Bad romance novels, pizza for the second time this week, sparkly green nail polish kind of joy. Without joy, you eventually burn out doing the hard work. To celebrate silly joy, I’m going to kick in monthly to the new Oakhurst Guinea Pig Rescue, which stepped into the void after our last wonderful local rescue closed. Don’t forget to support the causes that make you smile, if you can!
Yeah, he really said all these things. And I like facts, so here are links.