“They ain’t got no shame,” is a popular African-American aphorism my grandmother used to characterize white people (except Greeks and Italians). The Trump regime exemplifies that adage. No crime or evil is too much. Breaking up families, imprisoning refugees, and literally snatching babies from mothers, it’s all OK. “They ain’t got no shame!”
The regime’s racist revanchist policies combined with the recent rulings by its handmaiden, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) foreshadows a dystopian future. This term, the SCOTUS made its most blatant assaults on liberty, justice and equality. In three rulings — on gay rights, racial gerrymandering and public unions — the SCOTUS continued its conversion of the First Amendment’s right to free speech into a conservative weapon with which to bludgeon antidiscrimination and workers’ rights legislation.
“They ain’t got no shame!”
The regime’s latest offensive against humanity seeks to return to a time before the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration policy recalls the 1892 Chinese Exclusion Act and the more comprehensive Immigration Act of 1924, which sought to “maintain the racial preponderance of the basic strain on our people and thereby to stabilize the ethnic composition of the population.” However, the SCOTUS’s upholding of the regime’s Muslim ban was not their only attack on human rights and civil liberties.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop LTD v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the supreme court determined that “creative expression” constituted speech. Therefore, they decided Jack Phillips, the baker, could not be compelled to use his “artistic talents to express a message with which he disagreed.” The court further found that some commissioners demonstrated hostility toward Phillips’ religious beliefs and that their comments “cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality” of the commission’s decision.
Despite the magnitude of these two draconian decisions, the regime, including the SCOTUS, pushed even further backward. In Abbott, Governor of Texas v. Perez, the conservative majority struck another blow against racially oppressed groups’ meaningful exercise of their voting rights. Even while acknowledging that a Texas district map was drawn to preserve racial discrimination, the regime’s handmaidens upheld it. Thus, the supreme court ensures the state’s looming majority of Latinx and African-Americans will continue to be underrepresented politically.
In a third onslaught, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the SCOTUS battered organized labor. The high court overturned 40 years of settled law when it eliminated public sector unions’ right to collect “agency fees” or payment from nonmembers for collective bargaining for better wages and work conditions. This decision has the potential to devastate unions and drastically reduce their financial support for progressive candidates.
It’s a grave mistake to view these policies and rulings as separate actions divorced from the regime’s overall agenda. First, it’s important to note that the highest court and the legislative branch have rejected their constitutional duties and have become sycophants of the executive. Thus, they are part of the regime. Second, all three decisions are categorically political decrees decided on the basis of ideology.
The animating factor for the regime is a passion for the glory days of white supremacy. The regime longs for the time when few Latinx and Asians resided in the country, Native Americans were interned on reservations, African-Americans were imprisoned on plantations, and LGBTQ folks were confined in closets.
The regime seeks to hold back the tide of history. It seeks to delay the tidal wave that is transforming the US into a majority dark country. And failing that, it seeks to roll back progressive legislation and policies that elevate darker people, workers, women and LGBTQ folk. Slashing the size and financial power of unions, like legalizing racial gerrymandering, aims to weaken the resistance and clear the path for the march toward fascism.
While the above stakes are serious, the right has even more substantive aspirations. If the SCOTUS can affirm the right of capitalists to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the basis of free speech, can they apply the same logic to groups based on race, creed, color and religion?
It’s important to understand that conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, and libertarians like Rand Paul oppose[d] the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the same grounds as the court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. Goldwater said he’d “never vote for a public accommodations clause in any civil rights bill” because he considered it “unconstitutional.” Elaborating, he claimed it, “tampered with the right of assembly, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of property.”
Paul follows a similar logic. According to him, supporting apartheid is “the hard part about believing in freedom.” For libertarians like Paul, the right of the individual to control his or her property is sacrosanct.
A return to apartheid, overturning Roe v. Wade, and worse is being discussed. South Dakota State Senator Phil Jensen says capitalists have the right to deny service on the basis of race or religion. And perhaps most shocking, The New York Times revealed that 20 percent of Trump supporters favor a return to slavery, while 12 percent of all voters do.
“They ain’t got no shame!”
California congresswoman Maxine Waters is right, members of the regime should be challenged everywhere and in every way possible. Because they have no shame, they should be afforded no peace.
Sundiata Cha-Jua is a professor of African-American studies and history at the University of Illinois and is a member of the North End Breakfast Club. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.