Brooklyn Based is not an inherently political site–we’re focused on being an indispensable guide to life in Brooklyn. This election though, has challenged us to expand our scope. We’ve been openly political by refusing to normalize Trump as a candidate. We take his statements about women, immigrants, Muslims and other minorities at face value.
And so, starting now, we will highlight one thing you can do to push back against bigotry each week. Some of these will get their own email, like today, but going forward there will always be a link to the action of the week in Wednesday’s Ideal Week email. Some of our ideas will be New York City-specific, encouraging the continuation of ongoing good work, and others, like this week’s, will be in direct opposition to Trump policies.
We want #actiontrumpshate to be a resource and inspiration; these will be real concrete ways to engage, to help, to take action. We don’t want to talk about the Trump presidency in terms of silver linings, but this is a watershed moment when we can choose to become more engaged, to get out of the echo chamber of social media and advocate for meaningful change.
Week 1: Stop Stephen Bannon
Time commitment: 15 minutes to ∞
What? President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. The Southern Poverty Law Center has denounced this choice, saying that it places a powerful voice for white nationalism in the White House.
Why should I care? You may have heard of Bannon, and Breitbart, the website he ran before becoming a Trump advisor, described as “alt-right.” If you’re not on top of conservative politics, this may sound fairly benign, a term akin to “neocon.” In fact, it’s an airbrushed way of saying white nationalist. The alt-right bristles against multiculturalism, feminism and inclusivity. The alt-right hates what it calls political correctness above all else. Most of the coverage of Bannon has rightly focused on his ties to white supremicist groups, but it’s crucial to note that the alt-right is also a steaming cauldron of misogynist garbage ideas. There have been several reported think pieces arguing that sites like Breitbart are radicalizing young men to a narrow vision of who truly counts as fully human.
Action: Call your senators. In New York City they are Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, and they both have real power in Washington. Schumer was just elected Sentate Minority Leader, and has vowed to stand against racist policy and statements that emerge from the Trump White House, but has not moved to block Bannon’s appointment through official action.
Gillibrand has expressed concern about Bannon on Twitter, @, and Facebook. There has been information circulating on Twitter that she is taking a tally of concerned citizens so she can make an official statement. The lines at her office were busy three times when I called to confirm this today.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Washington office, 202-224-4451; NYC office, 212-688-6262
Charles Schumer: Washington office, 202-224-6542; NYC office, 212-486-4430
Both NYC offices have been busy all day, so try Washington as well. UPDATE: A reader commented telling us that trying offices other than NYC and Washington was working for her–they’re all staffed with people ready to put your concerns in the record. Click on each Senator’s name above for their contact pages, with the numbers for every office.
Here is a primer on how to contact your representatives, including what to say when you call. You can also go to their NYC offices in person.
This calling sheet offers a variety of scripts for issues you may want to speak with your representative about, and you can use it as a log to keep track of who you’ve called about what.
You can also call Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, 202-225-0600; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 202-225-4000; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell 202-224-2541. Say, “I’m asking (name of person) to publicly condemn the appointment of Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist. There is no room for racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, and hate in the White House.” This script also works for Gillibrand and Schumer.
Know: Congress has no say over who the president appoints as his advisors. They can, however, publicly oppose those appointments for the record. They can indicate that they will apply a high level of scrutiny to the cabinet members that they do need to approve–like Attorney General and Secretary of State. The New York Times has been reporting that the Trump transition team is moving more slowly than is usual, so the prospect of further complicating their move into the White House may actually hold some weight. There’s a historical precedent for blocking nominations and there’s already speculation about whether Giuliani will even pass the vetting for the Secretary of State job he seems to have his heart set on, and potential Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has a history of making racist statements, calling him into question as a viable candidate.
You can call your representatives about any issue. Put their numbers in your phone and make it a weekly habit. Take 15 or 20 minutes out of your Facebook trolling schedule and take action. Sending a letter or an email and signing online petitions is also an option, if those things are much easier for you, though this guide to contacting representatives, written by a former Congressional staffer, indicated that phone calls are the most effective tactic.
Senate confirmation process, FAQ by Slate