It was reported this week that yet another member of President Trump’s cabinet has been fired. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “did not resign willingly” on Sunday, April 6, according to CNN. This came amidst news that President Trump didn’t find her immigration policies tough enough for those entering the U.S.’s southern border.
Though we’re joining many in saying “good riddance” to Secretary Nielsen, there’s an easy way for more conservative commentators to turn her termination around on Democrats. Women need to lift each other up and not demonize each other, they could argue, and how can you still profess that to be true when attacking Nielsen, or even other female members of the Trump administration like Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Ivanka Trump? To criticize them, we must therefore be blinded by party, and really, feminists are a bunch of hypocrites.
Whether people actually make this argument or not, it may actually be true if it weren’t for the fact that Nielsen and every other woman that I listed before are bad people, full stop. That’s not a party judgement, that’s a character judgement, based on clear public actions they have all displayed. If we do in fact want to look at the Trump administration from a feminist perspective, wherein everyone is judged equally, the same can be said for them too: this administration cannot function at the most basic level of competency, and their policies have caused very real suffering to countless people.
By just taking Secretary Nielsen as the primary example, this is the woman who was responsible for the family separations at the border, for the countless news reports showing crying infants and young children who were scared and alone without their parents. A person with compassion for others who are different from themselves, no matter their stance on immigration, does not stoop to such measures, and there’s no two ways about it.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Trump’s mouthpiece, defending his falsehoods and having to explain away the craziest of his claims. Ivanka is meant to act as the appeaser of her father’s critics, but rather presents the inordinate privilege and disconnect from average woman that is so pervasive in his administration, and Kellyanne made up the phrase “alternative facts” for crying out loud.
If we as feminists are meant to judge everyone equally, then openly and loudly criticizing these women for the destructiveness of their words and behaviors is not an act of tearing them down, but rather holding them accountable. Blindly allowing them to act as propagandists for this president and to carry out his policies just because they’re women and we’re meant to support women in power ignores the damage that their privilege can inflict. So this week we say goodbye to Secretary Nielsen; though I don’t have much hope, may there be someone who succeeds her that can display the human decency she could not.