The Choice we Face

This morning after hearing what President Trump said to a cheering mob in Arizona I realized something, he may be a seriously flawed human being but he is no idiot.

No doubt, Trump’s words and actions point to an abject deficiency in critical thinking skills and an astonishing lack of tact. For that reason I and countless others have comforted ourselves with clever jokes exposing what we perceive to be pure idiocy and attacking his followers for being so gullible as to believe he actually cares about them.

But I no longer get the same satisfaction from sarcastic retorts to his daily stream of outlandish tweets and public statements. I’m not shaking my head in disbelief as often. The frequency by which I have plucked and hurled insults from the tree of low hanging epithets is waning. There is no comic relief. We are in trouble.

He bragged about his brain, and we laughed. Yeah, right, he has a really good brain. It’s not funny. Trump is incrementally dismantling established confidence in the various known thinking institutions through which (and despite which) the United States thrives. By targeting the media, for example, he is removing our right to make our own decisions. When Trump shouts “fake news” he is obstructing freedom of the press, de-legitimizing the role of the professional journalist, and convincing his base that they, too, are being victimized.

While we were laughing we just couldn’t allow ourselves to entertain the idea that his self-aggrandizement and predilection for “American First” was more than it appeared. It was too outrageous to imagine. He may be a jackass, but never this. Warnings during the election campaign were given the same respect as Chicken Little crying that the sky was falling.  We were too self-confident to believe his campaign speeches were more than bluster, he really didn’t want to be president, he would resign once he found out what a tough job it was, it was all for show, we thought. We never would have entertained the idea that as president he would both reject and fail to condemn Neo-Nazi’s and White Supremacists. He’s whipping up his base, softening them to the idea of White supremacism, applauding their patriotism and accusing his opponents of hating America.

I am sickened and horrified when I read comments from people I know, people who might not consider themselves members of Trump’s base suggesting that this whole Neo-Nazi resurgence is really no big deal since they existed as a fringe group for decades, and can we please stop talking about it now and share more pictures of baby animals, and even some brave souls asking what’s wrong with defending our nation’s White history.

Here’s what’s wrong. Aside from the fact that the United States’ white history was won on the backs of people of color, the softening towards a supremacist, nationalistic way of thinking is precisely the way the German people, defeated and disillusioned after World War I, fell into the arms of Hitler.

Trump is not Hitler, but his modus operandi is the same. He’s building a business and his supporters are his product. He’s rebranding the “American way” so there is uniformity and only one voice: his. The way of achieving uniformity is to inflame his followers so they do the work of pushing his opposition out, to silence and to terrorize. Trump is turning Americans against each other in ways that we never imagined could happen again.

And some of his ‘Christian’ base claim this is God’s will, that this presidency was pre-ordained by God. No. God’s will is that all of creation will reflect God’s glory by doing what Jesus Christ asked us to do. Need a refresher? click here.

To believe that this administration or its mission is Godly is a gross distortion of the teachings of Jesus Christ, a bastardization of the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor, and an outright rejection of God’s abundant love for all of God’s creation. If religious leaders aren’t willing to correct this false belief they need to reconsider their calling.

Are we better than this? I believe so.

No matter what side of the aisle you align yourself with sit up straight and pay attention: this is more than politics. Pay attention. Read world history. Read the work of seasoned journalists and quality, non-inflammatory publications and programs. Recognize the difference between news and entertainment. Look beyond your own back yard and get to know people who think, look, pray and come from places and families unlike yours. Seek ways to bring about a more just society that serves the least, first.

Recognize that the current administration is damaging the soul of our country and its citizens; it’s more than politics.

This is our choice. We can continue along the easy route to oblivion joking and flinging insults at one another, cultivating the ideal environment for hate groups to thrive, and giving Trump carte blanche to further divide us and destroy our Union, or can we do the hard work to come together as a people, rejecting hateful ideologies and standing up for what is right.

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