March 11th (Santa Rosa, CA) – March is Women’s History Month, which started right here in Santa Rosa as just a single week in 1978. By 1980, the week became recognized at the federal level before expanding to the whole month in 1987. It was a great surprise and honor, then, that the recently installed President of the United States requested to give a speech before the Commission on the Status of Women—which founded and administered the original celebratory week—to commemorate this year’s observances.
While the Commission has certainly expressed acknowledgement of topics not directly related to the “status of women”—notably that the Commission itself functions on the “ancestral lands of the Pomo, Wappo, and Coast Miwok” peoples—many in the audience were surprised how far off-topic the President took these prepared remarks. Instead of being about women’s history and the ongoing fight for equality, the President gave a sprawling speech covering a wide array of oppressive elements around the entire globe.
Below is a transcript of the President’s speech in its entirety
Thank you all for having me here today. It is my extreme pleasure and privilege to be able to stand before the very people who helped raise the bar on recognizing the contributions of women throughout the history of our nation. Sadly, the struggle for equality among the sexes is an ongoing battle, one that I know everyone here—myself included—will never retreat from.
But with that said, I believe it is important to also recognize the continual oppression happening to marginalized communities elsewhere in the world. As I have made very clear since Inauguration Day, we need to stand up to those who do not share our values, damn the consequences. For if we are not living up to the ideals we claim to have, then we do not deserve to call ourselves the land of the free!
So please indulge me as I highlight a few examples of these less fortunate individuals who need our attention, sympathy, and support as they are trapped in uncaring lands, under indifferent and sometimes brutal regimes.
First off, I want to talk about a country in the Middle East that has created an entirely different legal system that suppresses the rights of the native Islamic Arabs while the European immigrants who have only recently arrived have near carte blanche freedom to do whatever they want. Should an indigenous person commit the same acts as these Anglo invaders, they will find themselves detained, tortured, mutilated, and barely given a show trial, if they are lucky.
Of course, I am talking about the United Arab Emirates.
Similarly, there are places on this planet that are beneath the thumb of colonial invaders. The aboriginals of these lands live under intolerable conditions, even lacking the freedom of movement to see their own compatriots right next door. For generations now, whole families have been torn asunder while the world turns a blind eye for political expedience.
Of course, I’m talking about Northern Cyprus by Türkiye, Western Sahara by Morocco, and Kabylia by Algeria. And do I even need to bring up Russia and China?
Not to be forgotten, there are places where the occupiers do not even originate from the same continent, yet still hold on to the land despite the fact that the ethnic natives just want to create and maintain a stable, peaceful nation of their own—the right of any people.
Of course, I am talking about Spain with their ill-gotten holdings along the northern African coast including Ceuta, Melilla, and the Plazas de Soberanía.
Keeping some particular population from troubling you can become the preoccupation of an entire nation, even after they have supposedly left that area. For instance, there is a country that used to occupy a small strip of land on the Mediterranean Coast. Yet even while claiming to no longer having anything to do with that densely populated place after withdrawing, they still maintain a level of domination through economic measures. Most notably in recent times, they have set up a blockade that unilaterally punishes the populous en masse for the actions of the government in charge.
Of course, I am talking about Egypt, which used to occupy, control, and oversee the Gaza Strip under military rule from 1949 to 1967. Today, they deploy a land, sea, and air embargo because it suits their own personal interests.
Still, there are even worse places. There is a country which actively engages in apartheid, amazingly somehow happening in our time. When the modern version of this country formed in the mid-20th century, it was with the hope that it would provide protections for its unique tribal peoples, ones who had greatly suffered at the hands of Europeans. However, that protectionism turned into xenophobia, which in turn became hysteria, to which finally became institutional racism, misogamy, and bigotry. Now, only one type of the “chosen” with one specific religion have any semblance of freedom there, and, as far as the law is concerned, the others do not even exist.
Of course, I am talking about Saudi Arabia, which I am sure the attendees here will recognize for the less-than-human way they treat all women. And it cannot be highlighted enough how they treat non-Muslims, and even different sects within Islam.
As hard as it is to believe, there are places in the world where the treatment of people is even more severe. For instance, a certain group of people have been kept in refugee camps for several generations now; having no home, no country, nor any way to leave. Their so-called “hosts” forcefully refuse to let them be anything more than political pawns to be flaunted when convenient, such as when the scaremongering overseers want to get people in a tizzy or spread panic among their own citizens.
Of course, I am talking about Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan that have all blatantly rejected allowing Palestinians to leave the open-air detention centers where they have been involuntary trapped. This state of affairs is still ongoing even though almost everyone in these camps are descendants of someone who fled their home generations ago. Those who originally left are mostly dead, yet their progenies are still paying that penance.
Sometimes, though, the oppressors are not satisfied with merely having human beings living in squalor with no hope, but instead want those same people to suffer even more. In a country like this, in order to maintain their power, violence is the government’s preferred response. Where poor farmers and fisherman try to just scrape by, this country responds with live fire and disproportionate and indiscriminate bombings. This is especially true in any area that the government claims as “disputed”, even though the holdings obviously have nothing to do with the conquerors and historically have belonged to another group. And it is fair to note that they only have this supremacy because of how the colonial British withdrew from the area and partitioned the lands to give much of it away to a specific ethno-religious group, no matter where they happened to really originate from.
Of course, I am talking about Pakistan, a vast military power that will use any means necessary to maintain their iron grip over places like Kashmir.
All of these previously mentioned countries are not the only ones that tell individuals how to live their lives. There are also governments—nations that claim to be democracies with a steep tradition in social welfare—that have the audacity to tell people, especially women, what they can and cannot wear. Even more so, they racially profile people of Middle Eastern and East Asian descent with these laws, not even hiding their intentions.
Of course, I am talking about France and Switzerland, two countries that have banned head and face coverings in public in a blatant attempt to oppress the expression of traditional Islamic identity and to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.
Sadly, just taking control of people’s physical and personal lives is not enough for some countries. There is a nation that is actively working towards ethnically “cleansing” their cities of those they find undesirable, despite the fact that the folks that they are trying to purge have been there for time immemorial. This government wants only one type of populace with one set of beliefs to inhabit their cities in order to create “facts on the ground”, no matter how contrary to history and human rights that may be.
Of course, I am talking about Ethiopia, as they are fervently transferring ethnic Tigrayans out of their homes so that only the “true” Ethiopians remain in the areas under the government’s complete control.
Transferring populations and replacing them with your own is against international law, and some would say rises to the level of genocide. However, in this case, those who have been taken from their homes are thankfully still alive. In one country I am thinking about, the “undesirables” do not even have that chance. The government comes in, razes their homes for made up offenses, and—if I can be blunt—straight up murders them in order to seize their lands and make sure they can never come back.
Of course, I am talking about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya at the hands of Myanmar. And I would be remiss not to note that Myanmar partook in these activities both as a military dictatorship and as an elected democracy—the latter under the auspices of the head of the government who won a Nobel Peace Prize for “her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”
With so much violence, people have had to flee as refugees to other nations. But there is one country that—even though their modern nation was basically founded by refugees—refuses to take almost anyone in, with one exception: if the immigrants are of a preferred religion. And let me be very clear; their laws specifically make it so that Muslims are persona non grata while people from one specific sect are granted expedited settlement and automatic citizenship.
Of course, I am talking about India, which in the 2020s passed a series of measures to give Hindu migrants a preferred status while explicitly attempting to keep those who practice other religions, most especially Islam, out of the country.
This brings up the concept of “jus sanguinis”, which translates as the "right of blood"; or “leges sanguinis”, which loosely means “birthright by ethnicity”. In either case, these are ethnic/race-based beliefs that certain people “belong” to a physical country, no matter how removed and disconnected those people may be from that land. These philosophies allow a specific nation to welcome the demographic they want, grant them immediate residency and even citizenship, and make sure the country maintains a specific character. In the meantime, the “others” are excluded, oftentimes with no way to ever attain what those with the right blood can access with almost zero effort.
Of course, I am talking about countries like Armenia, Rwanda, and South Korea, among many others. The idea of a pluralistic society like we have in the United States is lost on these nations.
Unfortunately, what seems to be forgotten in all of this is that it is not about land, it is about people, all people, all of humanity. In the late 1940s, a group of people that had already suffered tremendously suddenly found themselves thrust from their homes. Over 800,000 people were abruptly made stateless refugees because of a reaction to what was happening hundreds, even thousands of miles away. They were found guilty by association based on their ethno-religious identity. The governments and even the common folks stole their homes, their possessions, their businesses, and—most of all—their dignity. And to this day, neither they nor their descendants have received so much as an apology, nonetheless reparations.
Of course, I am talking about the United Nations which failed in its very infancy by not preventing the expulsion of more than 800,000 Jewish people from majority Arab, Persian, and Islamic countries like Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, and plenty more. Sadly, the bulk of them died before ever getting to see their homelands one last time.
But what we are really talking about here is freedom, and freedom comes from self-determination. Yet many governments claim they are representative democracies, trying to whitewash over their crimes and oppressive regimes. An administration like this maintains their authority by claiming that they are the only spokesperson for their ethno-religious group. Anyone who disagrees with them is called a “racist”. Further, they have the “right” to take any and all action against the “others”—as well as those within their own nebulous borders—to protect themselves and their land.
Of course, I am talking about Palestine which has not had an election in decades! During that last campaign, the ruling PLO actually lost to the terrorist organization Hamas, which lead to a mini-civil war that split the Palestinians up between those who now live in Gaza and those in Judea and Samaria. When Mahmoud Abbas was selected as President in 2005, it was for a five-year term. Yet there have been no elections and the people have not had an opportunity to vote since then, and he stayed on as President until his death much, much later. Then there was another mini-civil war followed by a unification deal to place one of his chosen successors onto the seat of power with a plan for an election within a year; an election that to this day has still not happened.
A freedom that many people aspire for is the ability to express their own faith. Being a staunch supporter of the separation of Church and state, it disgusts me that there is a country out there that uses their police force to only allow those who practice one religion unfettered access to pray at a very holy site. As a matter of fact, entrance to other adherents is severely restricted to the point where there are times that the government flatly denies access for these pious people to even visit in a non-religious capacity, a decision based solely upon the faith they were born into.
Of course, I am talking about Israel which does not allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, also known as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf in Muslim tradition. In order to appease the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and the Islamic world in general, Israel has restricted access so that Jewish people cannot express their devotion in a way they best see fit for themselves. And to be fair, it is not just Jews that are denied freedom to express their beliefs, but so, too, are Christians and those who adhere to any other non-Muslim belief. Yes, the state itself is sponsoring Islam as the only acceptable religion in an area, and this does not sit well with me at all.
And finally, let me tell you about one last country. This place treats any non-majority person as a second-class citizen; not by law, but by action. Further, this nation actually disproportionality imprisons minorities; though, in truth, based on its total population, it imprisons the highest percentage of its population compared to anywhere else in the world.
While this is going on at home, it possesses far-flung, non-contiguous territories where its own laws do not apply. And how it gained control over those lands was through vast military actions that displaced and killed scores of civilians. Yet direct military action is not the only tool this country uses, as they have engaged in targeted assassinations without any trial or recourse. Meanwhile, they close their borders to peaceful economic migrants, treating them the same as enemy combatants.
However, even after so many years of being a nation, they still do not have a clear and defined border with their northern neighbor, despite ages of never-ending negotiations that have sometimes come to blows. This country even challenged their own agreement of the land boundary applying to the sea and demanded far more, using their superior military might to avoid ever having to resolve the issue.
This country that I speak of is the United States America. Women, people of color, immigrants, non-native English speakers—basically anyone who is not a white heterosexual cisgender male—has a much more difficult time here. Yes, the law claims to be equal for all people, but the realities of the application of law and the implementation among its institutions is a different story entirely. And when those lacking power and representation step out of line, or appear to step out of line, then they are far more likely to be punished by the law and have massively more severe penalties for similar offenses. There is no quarter, forgiveness, understanding, or true rehabilitation for the over two million people who sit behind bars.
I have spoken in depth about what has happened at Guantanamo Bay and how I have tried to shut it down, but there are more places like this all over the world. Black sites are a real thing, places where American laws and values do not exist, where the ends justify the means. Even I, the President of the United States, cannot know every mission out there, every actionable plan, and I cannot guarantee that our intelligence services are not engaging in activities like assassinations and regime changes even as we speak, despite my directives.
Meanwhile, people are just trying to get into this country, not to take it over, but to make a living for their family. Our government lacks any sympathy, even though we are completely dependent upon migrant labor to make our own economy work. This was made painfully clear to everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, yet it still never spurred Congress to action.
Amazingly, though, it is not just our southern neighbor we cannot seem to make peace with. Since the late 1800s we have been fighting with Canada over a little strip of land near Alaska called “Dixon Entrance”, one of four border disputes that we have not been able to resolve. Canada could not be a better neighbor, but we use our might to get the resources we want, even when dealing with a good friend. If this is how we treat our closest allies, can you not then see how these actions damage our relationships with the rest of the world?
So, when I think of us, here in the United States of America, I have only one thought:
Before we cast disparaging remarks directed at others, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We must first answer for our own shortcomings prior to telling the rest of the world how they should live and act. The best way to change the world is to change ourselves first. And once we do that, we can lead by example instead of by word alone.
To the women in this room, here to commemorate a month dedicated to you, you do deserve much more than this country has given you. But I would like you to be able to also reflect on how much progress you have made, especially in comparison to the troubles seen in the rest of the world. Nothing was handed to you; you had to fight for everything. So please, lend your strength to those who need it, and remember that freedom and opportunity are never assured, only seized from those who would try to withhold them from you.
The above piece is an excerpt from the speculative fiction novel 254 Days to Impeachment: The Future History of the First Independent President by J.P. Prag, available at booksellers worldwide.
Learn more about author J.P. Prag at www.jpprag.com.
254 Days to Impeachment is a work of mixed fiction and nonfiction elements. With the fiction elements, any names, characters, places, events, and incidents that bear any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. For the nonfiction elements, no names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated except for hypothetical situations.
About the Creator
J.P. Prag is the author of "Compendium of Humanity's End", "254 Days to Impeachment", "Always Divided, Never United", "New & Improved: The United States of America", and "In Defense Of...", and more! Learn more at www.jpprag.com.