White House spokeswoman Kelly Love recently told The Washington Post that the “Trump administration has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans.” To say that this is their latest alternative fact would be to put it mildly.
President Trump—“who rode a wave of hate all the way to the White House”—and members of his administration are clearly and unapologetically “walk[ing] back the federal role in protecting the civil rights of communities of color” with their budget, policy, and personnel decisions. At the Department of Justice, for example, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already taken DOJ in disturbing new directions and signaled many more horrors to come.
People For the American Way believes that Trump’s civil rights outrages must be resisted, and we recently joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and more than 100 other organizations in calling out his systemic assault on our country’s progress:
Our vision of an America as good in practice as it is in promise is fundamentally undermined by your administration’s apparent agenda of nothing less than an all-out, systemic assault on the progress our country has made since the New Deal. Our nation should honor equal protection for all, view its diversity as its strength, and strive to be an inclusive place where all in America can live, work, study, and participate in our democracy as free and equal people. We call on you and your administration to take affirmative steps to halt the problematic policies and initiatives we have outlined, and to provide positive leadership on these issues in order to promote inclusion and respect for the basic rights and dignity of every person in America.
PFAW and our allies wrote to Trump with five specific demands:
- Enforce the law. Federal agencies must vigorously respond to complaints of civil and human rights violations, and must uphold the vital federal role of enforcing our civil and human rights laws and ensuring vulnerable communities are protected from discrimination.
- Preserve existing policies. In recent years, federal civil rights offices have issued numerous policies and procedures to clarify the obligations of affected individuals, employers, and governmental entities under federal civil and human rights laws. These must be maintained.
- Nominate and appoint qualified individuals. We urge you to ensure that individuals chosen to lead civil rights offices have a demonstrated record of support for federal civil rights laws and marginalized communities. Individuals who are unfamiliar with or hostile to our nation’s civil rights laws and their purpose have no place leading offices charged with protecting people from discrimination.
- Prioritize data collection. A key component of civil rights enforcement, in many agencies, is continuing to collect, and make available to the public, disaggregated data to determine existing patterns and to promote better future compliance with federal hate crime and nondiscrimination laws.
- Condemn bigotry and violence. Law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations have documented a significant increase in bigotry and hate crimes. We urge you to establish a White House hate crime task force to coordinate federal agency response. You and all members of your administration should use your bully pulpit to clearly condemn bias-motivated violence and bigotry targeting people based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability at every opportunity.
Trump and his administration continuing on their current course will only put more individuals and communities in harm’s way.