This week marks the anniversary when President Truman in 1948 ordered the end of discrimination in the armed forces and federal jobs. It took until June 2016 for the Obama Administration and Pentagon to lift the ban against transgender men and women serving in the military. And this week on the anniversary of President’s Truman decision to end discrimination in the armed forces, President Trump in a series of tweets announced his ban on all transgender individuals serving in the US military... "in any capacity." His decision to limit the rights of transgender individuals was immediately criticized by civil rights groups. His decision to implement public policy on twitter without debate and discussion was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. And hundreds marched in NYC on Wednesday to protest
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, released a statement and said they are “sickened” by Trump’s announcement. “This move by President Trump is unconscionable evil,” said executive director Steven Goldstein. “Rarely if ever in our nation’s history has a President made a move like this that so drastically reverses the civil right gains of an oppressed community.” The Human Rights Campaign also tweeted its disapproval of Trump’s announcement. Threatening 15K currently serving troops who put their lives at risk is unpatriotic and dangerous," the LGBTQ rights organization said.
And Republicans were just as quick to criticize the roll back on civil rights. War hero, Senator John McCain, and one of the leading Republicans on national security quickly criticized the President, “The President’s tweet … regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.” Numerous other Republicans were quick to critize the decision (click herefor more criticisms). Long time Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah stated, "I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them."
Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy. One cannot be silenced based on their race, religion, gender or sexual identity. And so it is a tragic day when the rights of so many - which so many fought for and sacrificed for generations - are threatened in single second tweets. No debates. No discussion. In ten words or less, in ten seconds or less ... erasing decades of progress, sacrifice and change.
Debate is one of the most powerful skills in the world and with great power also comes great responsibility which means we must speak out against injustice. It is refreshing to see both Democrats and Republicans unite in opposition on any rollback of rights for any group and that policy decisions especially concerning freedom of expression should not be uniltarally dictated on twitter.
“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” - Henry Louis Gates, Jr
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” - President George Washington
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." - President Truman