Like many of you, I am dismayed and shocked at the progress of this election, and I am especially appalled by the success of the leading GOP candidate, Donald Trump.
While the political arena is not typically what I choose to write about, it has become obvious that this issue has bled beyond the realm of politics and become a basic question of right and wrong, of decency, of basic morality. I cannot, as an American and as a person of conscience, listen to any more racial slurs, misogynist insults, calls to violence, or divisive rhetoric without standing up and saying, “enough.”
Trump is a bully. As a teacher of small children, I know that there can be a tendency to side with the bully, because we think it might protect us from their wrath- that maybe by being on the stronger side, we will be made strong ourselves. Trump is obsessed with winning, he promises power to those who side from him. When you get swept up in the pull of a bully, it becomes easy to ignore the humanity of the bullied- of the weak who are trampled under toe.
Trump literally incites violence at his rallies, saying how much he’d like to punch those who oppose him in the face. He’s asked his supporters to “beat the crap out of” protesters, promising that he will pay their legal fees if they do. When protesters speak out, he’s shouted “Throw them out into the cold. Throw them out and don’t give them a coat.” From the podium, he’s reminisced about the “good old days” when such people would be carried out in stretchers.
He plays on the paranoia and prejudice of Americans by assuring them that that “Islam hates us.” When asked to clarify if he meant all Muslims, he said, “I mean a lot of them.” He’s called Mexican Immigrants “rapists,” “criminals” and “drug dealers.” He promises to build a wall on the Southern Border, which he will “force” Mexico to pay for, or else he will threaten them with war.
He compared Syrian Refugees to Poisonous Snakes, and has described the brutal torture and mass execution of Muslim POWs in the Philippines like a giddy schoolboy, and suggested that the United States do the same.
He has demeaned and mocked a reporter with disabilities, has called women “pigs,” “dogs,” and “disgusting animals.” To one reporter he said, “Women. You have to treat them like shit.”
While his vulgar, divisive, violent speech is in and of itself abhorrent, it is the roaring cheers of the crowd that worry me most. Trumps popularity is horrifying. It is proof that xenophobia, hate, and racism are powerful and active forces in America today. His rise to power shines a light on the dark, ugly underbelly of our ideologies, and reveals how dangerous the collective ignorance of a nation can be.
To suggest that Trump’s hateful speech, nonchalant threats of military violence, and causal bigotry are somehow separate from his policies and competency as a potential president is absurd. What we are seeing now is an impulsive, hateful, self absorbed man obsessed with his own power, and those attributes are directly connected to a person’s ability to lead.
For all you evangelicals out there who are considering voting for this man, all you members of the “Christian Right” who will toe the party line because of the little elephant on Trump’s lapel, I ask you to pause and compare the brand to Trump to the ethos and the sayings of Christ.
Jesus, who sided with the weak, the poor, and the oppressed. Jesus, who said of foreigners:
And of violence:
And of Wealth:
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!…Dear children, it is very hard[ to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
And of Generosity:
I’ve heard it said that this election is a battle for the soul of America. I feel the weight of that. I hope that as we approach the coming weeks and months, we choose to be wise, peaceful, and tempered in our actions. I hope that we do not neglect to stand up for those who are being tossed around and belittled by this campaign and in the national dialogues we’re having.