Trump’s Twitter intimidation may have been politically expedient bluster. But, it threatened our collective cultural legacy, regional stability, and scientific inquiry.
Since the mid-twentieth century, many Americans have seen free speech as primarily serving an inclusive and egalitarian concept of public space and political legitimacy. This view draws on stories of anti-war protestors and civil rights activists, like Mario Savio and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. An opposing view of free speech was on offer in President Trump’s March 2019 executive order to “protect free speech on campus.” While the impact of the order itself has been up for debate, its signing ceremony was an inflection point for a conservative vision of free speech as the province of normatively gendered whiteness.
While the US federal government remained in the longest partial shutdown in history, the Trump administration managed to make headway in its baffling effort to prevent transgender Americans from serving in the military. On January 22 the Supreme Court removed one injunction against the proposed policy that was first introduced this summer. Another injunction against it still remains in place, but likely not for long.