Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Trump, destroyer of conservatism

August 23, 2019

(This appeared as a commentary in the 7/14 Albany Times-Union)

Democracy is not so much a set of practices (like elections) as it is a culture; a way of being. It was something new when articulated in 1776 — “all men are created equal” with “inalienable rights.”

The Declaration gave a nod to a “creator,” yet it was clear the kind of society it envisioned owed nothing to him. Instead it was the creation of human beings. And because humans are fallible, it can fail. A recent commentary in the Albany Times Union quoted Judge Learned Hand in 1944: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”

I became a conservative in the 1960s because of the profoundly democratic values and ideals that entailed. A key precept of the Enlightenment’s classical liberalism, and America’s founding values, has been constraining government power. Recent decades have seen a growing fear on that score. It led to “liberty” and “freedom” becoming, for the right, fetishized words. Badges worn by a political movement that has now gone on to make them a hollow mockery, by falling in to an orgy of tribalism, falling in line behind a false god.

Look what travesties are countenanced. Racial bigotry and divisiveness. Demonization of press freedom. Defying rule of law and government accountability. Inhuman cruelty toward suffering people at our border. Flattering brutal dictators, dismissing Russian subversion, shredding our alliances. A president steeped in corruption, vulgarity, and depraved egotism. All grounded in pervasive lies.

Is this what conservatives’ “liberty” and “freedom” have come to? They’ve lost their moral minds.

The word “conservative” should connote an ethos of humility and carefulness, of respect toward institutions and other people. As The Economist’s July 6 lead editorial headlined, “The new right is not an evolution of conservatism but a repudiation of it.” Actually at war with the classical liberalism conservatism once embodied. Conservatives used to see America as a bulwark for democracy globally. Used to be for free trade and fiscal responsibility and against Russian aggression. Conservatives believed in accepting reality — and certainly hated the idea of government power in the hands of a demagogue whose lies flout reality.

The only thing these latter-day “conservatives” really want to conserve is America’s whiteness.

I am reminded of the idealistic Communists whose faith died when their eyes were opened to Stalin’s crimes. Open your eyes, conservatives. Your faith is dead. Trump has killed it and for that you should revile him.

Our democracy was not eternally ordained by God; nor even by our constitution. Judge Hand was right. It will endure only so long as we keep our grip on the principles, ideals, and values embodying it.

Already almost half the population is a lost cause in that respect. America’s fate rests in the hands of the others.

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Refugees: When the doors flew open

August 15, 2019

My friend Olga arrived here as a Soviet Jewish refugee in 1979; I’ve written about her. She got out just before the door slammed shut. The USSR was one big prison, especially for Jews, victims of severe discrimination.

My humanist group recently viewed a wonderful film about them, Stateless, mostly interview footage with refugees now in America, relating their stories. Seeing it was an emotional experience.

The plight of Soviet Jews became a big issue in the ’80s. When Gorbachev met with Reagan in Washington, large demonstrations demanded that Soviet Jews be let go. Reagan pressed Gorbachev on the issue (this was back when U.S. presidents still stood for what was right).

And the doors flew open.

But the Soviets made the exit a humiliating ordeal. Emigrants were milked for bribes at every step. Luggage was a particular problem; basically they were allowed to take only what they could carry, and getting the heavy bags from checkpoint to checkpoint was tough. At Sheremetyevo Airport, customs officers would roughly rifle through the suitcases, refusing to permit certain items, again extracting bribes.*

Meantime, the local police would know who was scheduled to leave; they’d break into apartments to steal the packed bags.

One woman said that when she’d handed over the final bribe, with almost her last rouble, she actually felt elated: a price worth paying to escape that prison.

The refugees traveled to Vienna, then to Italy, to await final transit to either Israel or America. Actually having a choice was an intoxicating novelty. That was one shock upon reaching the West. One guy spoke of his amazement to find, in airport bathrooms, free toilet paper! Wouldn’t people steal it? In fact some arrivees, still having that Soviet mentality, did just that. And then the abundance in stores was mind blowing. Some thought at first these must be Potemkin displays, plastic simulacra, not real goods.

People from government and aid agencies met them to help. But they viewed these offers with suspicion; the idea of such assistance seemed alien and implausible. Especially with no bribes even demanded! But on the streets, smiling cheerful people were another surprise. How unlike Moscow. So this was what freedom looked like.

Those opting for America needed refugee visas from consular officials who interviewed them to document their histories of persecution. This was hard; what they’d endured had been so internalized, so integral to seemingly normal life, they didn’t realize there was anything to report. While some, on the other hand, flagrantly embellished. (Lying was also the Soviet normal.)

With the sudden flood of visa applications, a large proportion were denied. This put the migrants in a terrible fix. They didn’t understand the system, had no idea what to do.

The issue came to the attention of Congress (this was back when it could still actually legislate to solve a problem). Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced a bill relieving Soviet Jewish refugees from having to individually prove persecution. The bill swiftly passed.

And the doors flew open.

Hearing these people’s stories made me love it that they’re now my fellow Americans. Anyone with the grit to go through what they did to get here, I want here. This is what America means. This is what made it great.

* I remembered my own Sheremetyevo experience. “Numismatic tours” of Russia in 1993 and 1995, led by Erastus Corning Jr., were a fantastic buying opportunity — on the second trip I bought 92 pounds of coins. Erastus hired a local guy, Misha, to help us at customs. The customs officer was grim faced; examining my stash, he kept repeating, “it’s impossible.” Lengthy discussions in Russian ensued with Misha. Finally Misha left, and then the customs guy waved me through.

I met up with the others. Erastus said, “Give Misha $100.” I instantly understood, and handed over the money, saying “Wasn’t Misha taking a big risk?”

“Misha knows what he’s doing,” Erastus replied. “He was with the KGB.”

BREAKING NEWS: Amid Election Chaos, Trump Urges Shutdown

August 12, 2019

 

NOVEMBER 3, 2020

By James Thornton

and Julie Montalbano

Associated Press

____________________________________

                                       Washington

With today’s U.S. election in Russian-hacked chaos as millions of voters find their registrations seemingly voided, President Trump tweeted that he is “calling for a total and complete shutdown of the election process — until we can figure out what the hell is going on!!”

The extraordinary problems, almost surely from Russian hacking, have been reported in at least 32 states, with the voter registries distributed to local election boards missing many (if not most) entries. Voters affected are generally permitted to file paper provisional ballots, to be adjudicated later. However, the huge number of such time-consuming cases (with paper ballots often running out) has thoroughly snarled voting, causing very long lines — turnout was already breaking modern records — with many would-be voters giving up.

At stake in today’s election are not only the presidency but also all seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, eleven state governorships, and thousands of other local offices.

Elections are supervised by state governments, not the president, and it was not immediately clear what effect, if any, Trump’s tweet would have. Canceling or postponing a national election would be unprecedented and constitutionally impermissible. Nevertheless, several Republican governors have indicated receptiveness to Trump’s call; most are silent; Democrats universally denounce it.

Predictably, Trump blamed Democrats for the voting problems, accusing them of trying to “rig the election” to deny him victory. He offered no basis for his accusation. Actually, it appears that mostly Democratic voter registrations are affected. And recent polls have shown Trump’s Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joseph Biden, with a consistent lead of landslide proportions in the ten to twelve percentage point range. Biden leads in all the “battleground states” and even in some former Republican bastions, including Texas, as the nation slides into a recession widely blamed on Trump’s trade wars.

Russia’s hand in today’s voting turmoil seems virtually certain. Knowledgeable observers note the Mueller probe’s irrefutable evidence that the Kremlin tried to similarly hack into state election systems in 2016. It appears that Russia has been more successful this time. In addition, the proven 2016 Russian social media disinformation campaign also escalated in 2020. Most notable, of course, was the purported “Socialist Biden” video, surfacing only Saturday, and quickly spreading as the most viral item in internet history. It appeared to show candidate Biden saying he favors making America “totally socialist;” borders completely open; allowing abortions up to nine months; and confiscating all guns. The video, though skillful, was swiftly exposed as completely fake, and experts pointed to Russia’s clear electronic fingerprints on it.

President Trump (who retweeted the video, and later denied doing so) has steadfastly refused to acknowledge any such Russian transgressions. In 2019, bipartisan legislation to combat anticipated Russian election subversion was blocked from a Senate vote by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky, called “Moscow Mitch” by some), leaving the nation largely defenseless.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement saying, “Tales of Russian involvement in America’s election confusion are delusional lies and laughable fabrications. The fact is that democracy is a dead system, and so-called ‘democratic elections’ have always been a sham.” Shortly afterward Trump tweeted that he accepts the Russian statement.

Candidate Biden, in a joint appearance today with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, called for the election to go forward despite the hacking, and for “all hands on deck” to quickly resolve the problems. Biden said a voting shutdown, and its resulting constitutional chaos, would be exactly what Russia seeks. He urged voters to be patient and to “stand up for democracy — even if it does mean standing in long lines.” And Biden labeled Trump’s call to abort the election “the final illegitimate ploy by a disgraced and discredited president to cling to power, adding yet one more outrage to his endless rap sheet.”

 

(Note: This is not satire, nor fake news, but authentic future news. Remember you first read it here.)

Insanity: a global contagion

August 8, 2019

Hong Kong is China’s richest, most advanced, most economically vibrant part. When Britain agreed to return it in 1997, the deal was “one country, two systems.” China pledged to respect Hong Kong’s liberalism, rule of law, and move toward free elections there. The Chinese regime lied. Making clear by now they’ll never allow democracy anywhere.

They’ve shanghaied Hong Kong political targets back to China for intimidation and torture. More recently, they’ve proposed to legalize such extradition. Hong Kong erupted in massive protests. The extradition bill was shelved (for now). But meantime the regime further antagonized the population by meeting the protests with excessive violence. Even deployed gangs of goons to brutalize people. In response, the civil disobedience is ramping up.

A sane Chinese regime would strive to defuse this through dialog with its critics — encompassing most of Hong Kong’s population — making some concessions to mollify them. Instead the regime simply threatens more violence.

This will end badly. Likely China will send its army into Hong Kong, imposing martial law. Another Tienanmen bloodbath. Destroying the jewel of the nation. The regime acts like it was appointed by Heaven to rule in perpetuity, no matter what. That actually was the traditional Chinese theory of rulership. It has no place in the 21st century. It’s insane.

* * *

I’ve written of how India’s Hindu-nationalist Modi regime is trying to make its large Muslim minority into second-class citizens — or even non-citizens. Insanity, given the long bloody history of communal violence.

Kashmir is India’s lone Muslim-majority state. Since 1947, India and Pakistan have quarreled over it; in effect they’ve split it, amid chronic violence. But India’s half has always had its own local government, and elections, like the rest of the country. But now the Modi regime proposes to revoke that and rule Kashmir from the center. To what end? This will surely enrage the population and make Kashmir an even more contentious and violent trouble spot; while poisoning relations with India’s Muslim neighbors (notably Pakistan). Utterly insane.

* * *

Great Britain, in 2016, voted to leave the European Union (“Brexit”), by a narrow 52% margin. That “will of the people” has been sanctified by Brexiteers as holy writ — never mind that it was based on massive lies and disinformation (Russia had a hand). Brexiteers intone “will of the people” yet refuse to consult them further, ruling out a second referendum, even to vote on the actual Brexit deal — or lack thereof.

The deal negotiated with the EU — belying all Brexiteer promises — was clearly worse than continuing membership. But clearly better than leaving with no deal, which would be economic catastrophe. Brexiteers insist that’s a price worth paying. They’re even willing to see the country literally destroyed, as Brexit could well propel Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the union.

So they’ve made Boris Johnson prime minister. An irresponsible goofball windbag at a moment of gravest crisis. He vows Brexit will happen at the new deadline of October 31, deal or no deal, “do or die.” (Trump cheers him on.) Johnson says the odds against a no-deal Brexit are “a million to one,” yet has no clue how to get a deal that can pass his own red lines — and Parliament, which has thrice rejected the only deal possible.

The sticking point is to avoid a “hard border” with customs formalities between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, both of which hate the idea. The EU’s deal solves this by keeping Britain in its customs union. (The EU won’t screw Ireland, a member.) Brexit fanatics refuse to accept this. If Johnson caves on it, they’ll immolate him.

Their Conservative party — like our GOP — has gone off the deep end. So has the opposition Labour party, with 1940s hard left Stalinism.

Parliament (having no Conservative majority) has meantime also voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit. Johnson could get around this by suspending Parliament. Unconstitutional you say? Actually, Britain has no written constitution. This thing is driving the country into very dark waters.

What’s that word again? Insane.

* * *

And what of America? Electing a deranged moral creep, ignoramus, criminal con man, pathological liar, Russian tool, and hate-monger, trashing every ideal America ever stood for. And 40% still support him! While no matter how many mass shootings we have, we still cannot ban military style weapons whose only function is to kill a lot of people fast.

What’s that word again?

Democrats and America’s soul

August 5, 2019

In the debates, the Democratic candidates had much to say about policy issues. But that isn’t what this election is about. It’s about America’s soul. What the country stands for. What it means.

Only one of the debaters really seemed to get it. Ironically, the one all the rest beat up as yesterday’s man, out of touch, not getting it. In fact, he’s not on their wavelength — but the right one. That’s Biden.

It’s not as though the others are oblivious to Trump’s monstrousness. Yet they seemed to focus more on criticizing Obama’s administration than Trump’s. (As a Republican I criticized Obama plenty myself.) This shows how far left they’ve veered, pandering to the party’s activist base of zealots. Not even Obama met their purity test.

So we hear policies like decriminalizing unauthorized border crossing*; free healthcare for everyone including the undocumented; free college, ditto. And slavery reparations.

To politically correct “progressives” these might seem no-brainers, but to most Americans they’re brainless. This plays into Trump’s hands, eager to portray Democrats as crazy socialist radicals.

Biden was if anything too timid about separating himself from all that.** He can let the others divide the hard left vote, and scoop up the moderate centrist vote.

But again this election is not about policies. As news commentator Dan Balz said, there’s too much “I have a plan for that,” not enough “I have a vision for America.” Democrats should be full-throated in defending our fundamental values that Trump is shredding. Only Biden is really focused on that. We’re a nation defined by its motto, e pluribus unum —out of many, one. Enriched by its diversity, an open society, sufficiently confident of itself to welcome the newcomers who refresh our culture, and for full engagement with a globalized world, leading the free nations and standing for what’s right.

Not a society mired in resentful white nationalism. Trump won last time partly on economic populism, but hasn’t delivered on those phony promises, so now he’s going full Monty on racism and cruel xenophobia. This is the battleground he’s chosen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Let’s have this battle. Trump is betting that half of Americans, at least, are as hateful as him. The insane political strategy of a deranged fool. I’m betting decency will prevail.

* A point that seemed overlooked is that crossing the border to apply for asylum has never been illegal.

** He even caved on the TPP. Trump’s exiting the TPP was nuts. But Democrats are so muddled themselves about trade policy they failed to criticize the madness.

Trump and the white trash syndrome

July 31, 2019

Not all antebellum Southern whites owned slaves. Most were much too poor. They lived in squalor. But they had one consolation: holding themselves above blacks.

This actually accentuated after the war, when Southern poverty was ubiquitous. Read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by Evans and Agee, a searing portrait of Depression-era Southern deprivation — among whites. And again there was one thing they could cling to: at least they weren’t black.

It’s the white trash syndrome. Exemplified by the Ewells in To Kill a Mockingbird. In their depth of degradation, it was desperately important to be able to see one group, at least, as even lower.

To be clear, poverty itself is not degradation. Poorer people are not generally less worthy. While some may be responsible for their straits, the bigger factor is mere luck, especially who your parents were. Many poor people live honorable lives. Poverty makes that harder (and so poor people who do live upstanding lives deserve extra credit), but poverty doesn’t make you white trash. It’s what’s in your head and heart that does. And if you do have white trash attitudes, you more likely are responsible for your poverty.

It wasn’t the Southern aristocracy so insistent on keeping blacks “in their place.” Their position was secure and not threatened by blacks. It was instead the white trash feeling imperiled; if blacks prospered as respectable members of society, then the white trash would be on the bottom. So it was they who fought tooth and nail against giving blacks an inch, perpetrating the hideous violence aimed at keeping them down.

We’re seeing a version of this syndrome recrudesce in Trump support. Careful studies of polling data have shown that the one factor most closely correlated with Trump support is racial antagonism. Whites who are doing fine have no cause for animus against other ethnicities flourishing. But a big segment of today’s white population is not doing fine. Especially less educated middle aged men, especially outside major cities. This demographic looms large in the opioid crisis. That’s one way to cope with feeling devalued. Another, as with the old white trash syndrome, is sticking it to a different group they can see as even lower. They need to keep blacks where they were.

But they’re failing. Where non-whites were previously marginalized, they’re now mainstreamed, America becoming less white. This messes with some people’s sense of identity. Today’s America is no longer a collective they really feel tight with. Moreover, some see the change as actually happening at the expense of whites. So compounding the economic malaise is an aggrieved resentment, scapegoating non-whites. All the more potent if you furthermore imagine them inferior.

It’s evident in the flood of comments to a blog post I wrote, titled “Why so many blacks in ads?” One might have expected critiques along lines of “reverse racism” or overdone political correctness. Instead most simply vent hatred toward blacks. A recent one actually said racial divisions are caused by blacks’ violence; you never see whites acting that way! These people are obviously desperate to have a group they can look down on. (Oblivious that they’re actually proving their own inferiority.)

Of course Trump’s never actually said ethnic minorities are inferior — though he’s come close. He did apply the words “very fine people” to the white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville. Racists, neo-Nazis, and KKKers cheered this, immensely empowered. Of course his disgusting recent racist tweetstorms play to them. And the cruel war on migrants, racialist at its core, is the core of Trump’s politics: as if he’ll at least keep the country from becoming even browner.

America’s white trash gets the message loud and clear. That’s why they stick with Trump no matter what. Not all Trump supporters are racist. But all racists are Trump supporters. If their hatefulness wins in 2020, America will be a white trash nation.

New York’s sick joke of a “governmental ethics watchdog”

July 28, 2019

New York State’s “Joint Commission on Public Ethics” (JCOPE) was created by the “Public Integrity Reform Act” to “restore public trust in government.”

Percoco

JCOPE is run by toadies of Governor Andrew Cuomo. His top henchman, Joseph Percoco, was convicted of bribery. The trial also revealed he mis-used public resources for political work. Did JCOPE investigate this? No. When a judge actually ordered JCOPE to vote on investigating, it first appealed, but then agreed to vote.

Did JCOPE reveal the result of that vote? No! (But hasn’t investigated Percoco.)

But lest you think JCOPE is a toothless tiger on public ethics, they’re going after — with a vengeance — Kat Sullivan. Charged with “unregistered lobbying.”

Sullivan

Sullivan claimed that, while a student at Emma Willard school, she was raped by a teacher. She got a settlement from the school. And used some of it to push for legislation (which passed) extending the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims.

This is the “unregistered lobbying” JCOPE is persecuting her for, bombarding her with threatening process and forcing her to incur legal defense costs. Raping her anew. The same JCOPE that gave a pass to bribe-taker Percoco.

Did Sullivan technically violate lobbying registration rules? I have no idea. But it’s obvious what those rules were really aimed at, and it sure wasn’t the likes of Kat Sullivan. The lobbying of public ethics concern is when special interests try to get legislation benefiting them financially, often by spreading money around.* The rules were aimed at bringing at least some transparency to those swampy waters.

Certainly not at hampering or tripping up citizen advocates like Kat Sullivan urging legislative action. Which of course is integral to democracy. In fact, the First Amendment protects not just freedom of speech generally, but specifically the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” That’s what Kat Sullivan was doing.

JCOPE’s putting her through the wringer shreds the First Amendment. A brazen effort to intimidate anyone who, for public-spirited reasons, pushes for legislation. The theory could conceivably extend to writing letters or phoning legislators to urge action (if you do it enough).

This is un-American. An “ethics watchdog” that persecutes such citizen advocates on trumped-up technicalities while turning a blind eye to egregious insider scum like Percoco is what you’d expect in Russia, not America.

(I thank the Albany Times Union and reporter Chris Bragg for highlighting this story.)

POSTSCRIPT: The threshold for “lobbying” expenditures becoming subject to JCOPE regulation used to be $5000. Cuomo’s 2019 budget proposed lowering that to $250. The final number: $500. Gunning for even smaller fry than Kat Sullivan. Meantime JCOPE has published 100 pages of regulations for “grassroots” and social media advocacy. In the Democratic People’s Republic of New York.

* JCOPE has never punished anything in that realm.

The Golden Door slammed shut

July 24, 2019

A traveler was robbed and beaten, left half-dead beside the road. Two passers-by ignored him. Finally another stopped to help, treated his wounds, took him to an inn, fed him. This story of the Good Samaritan was told by Jesus.

In 2015 I wrote about Germany generously throwing open its doors to take in about a million Syrian refugees. I criticized the Obama administration for taking only a handful. My daughter (working in the Mid East for a refugee NGO) chastized me, reminding me that no other nation has welcomed more refugees than America.

That was then.

Last week, in what The Economist calls a calculated pattern, while Trump distracted us with the “go back” outrage, his administration snuck in a big policy change that went almost unremarked. Trump’s mind is actually not organized enough for such cunning; his outrages so frequent that the timing is mere coincidence. In any case, the new policy is also an outrage.

It decrees that no refugee may apply for asylum at the border without first having been rejected by some other country. In practice this means, for most Latin Americans, the end of U.S. asylum.

To be clear, this is not about “illegal immigrants.” People have a legal right to cross our border to apply for asylum, in cases of home-country persecution or endangerment, to be adjudicated through a formal hearing process. This is codified in the 1951 international Refugee Convention and in America’s 1980 Refugee Act. Trump’s new policy (being challenged in court) violates both. Refugees will simply be turned away regardless of the legitimacy of their asylum claims under (previously) universally recognized standards.

Add this to the inhuman cruelty of separating thousands of children from parents (many impossible to reunite) and imprisoning them under horrific conditions, some dying for lack of care.*

This is America? My God, what has happened to this once-noble country? My heart is torn out. Yours should be too — if you have one.

The real point of the Good Samaritan story was that he was Samaritan. The two who passed by the injured man were pillars of the Jewish community. And Jews despised Samaritan people — the “other.” Jesus was saying that maybe their hatred for Samaritans was wrong. Maybe those “others” were at least as good as them.

Go back, you tired, you poor,

You huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost away.

I shut the latch upon the golden door!

* By people who say every child’s life is so sacred they oppose all abortions. Who call themselves “Christians.” Who call their critics unpatriotic.

Now it’s official: Republicans don’t know right from wrong

July 22, 2019

Michael Gerson is a Republican, former G.W. Bush speech writer, and columnist. Please read his latest column below. (I have condensed it considerably.)*

Susan Brooks. Brian Fitzpatrick. Will Hurd. Fred Upton.

These four Republicans supported a resolution condemning President Trump’s plainly racist “go back” taunt. The only House Republicans for whom decency still has a political application. The last, scattered exceptions to the rule of malice and bigotry in the GOP. They (along with ex-Republican Justin Amash) refused to rationalize.

Rationalization is the default setting of the human mind. We can’t reconsider our whole view of the world with every new piece of information. So we tend to accept evidence that supports our predispositions and filter out evidence that does not.

But in politics, rationalization can harden into a rigid ideology in which all questioning is disloyalty. And this cult-like ideology, if all the maleficent stars align, can become a cable network like Fox News.

In the mid-19th century, prominent ministers in the South employed the Bible to justify slavery. There were very few examples of unexpected or heroic resistance. Instead, ministers built a complex series of arguments to rationalize a system based on theft and abuse. And the issue was not eventually resolved by the triumph of superior arguments. It was left to those consummate theologians, the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to decide what in fact the Bible actually meant.

I am not equating slavery to the rise and rule of Trump in the GOP. I raise the example to show how hard it is — and how important it is — to examine the settled convictions of your own community and resist them when they are wrong.

July 16, 2019, should be remembered for its up-or-down vote on political and moral decency. The rationalizations in this case — that Trump’s statement was not technically racist, that the resolution violated House rules, that Democrats are guilty of similar offenses — had nothing to do with the morality of the situation. They were transparently self-serving and political.

As a society, we would punish racist taunts of this type if done on school grounds or a playing field. We can’t accept them in the president of the United States without doing great damage to public norms of respect and inclusion.

There is a point when rationalization reaches the soul and human beings lose sight of simple right and wrong. And 187 House Republicans have now officially reached it.

* His original text: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/187-house-republicans-have-lost-their-moral-compass/2019/07/18/7301f3b4-a980-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html?utm_term=.95dd56dee317

 

Go back to the sewer you came from, Trump

July 20, 2019

America was built by people coming here from all over, to take part in our great enterprise. That’s central to what America means.

But some Americans perennially forget this. So every wave of people coming here has been slapped with that hateful insult: “Go back where you came from.”

Especially non-whites. “Go back to Africa.” Forgetting the little detail that they were kidnapped and dragged here on slave ships. Yet they too have built this country.

Since 2016 I’ve considered it a duty to call out every bad thing Trump does. Because this is a crisis of America’s soul. I’ve kept saying it will get worse. And so it has.

“Go back.” The favorite line of racists forever. If you deny it’s racism — who do you think you’re fooling?*

Never mind that three of those four Congress members were born here. The fourth, Ilhan Omar, grew up in a squalid African refugee camp. Coming to America, she earned citizenship, became a useful and beloved member of her community, which elected her to Congress. A great American story of which we should be proud.

You don’t agree with everything she’s said? Fine, neither do I. That’s called public debate. It’s what we have in a democracy.

But Trump says she should “go back” to Africa because she criticizes America. Actually it’s him and his policies being criticized. It’s the job of a Congressperson to spotlight things about America that need changing. This again is public debate in a democracy.

For Trump to slime those Congress members as somehow “unpatriotic” for their criticisms would be a grotesque outrage even if Trump himself had not, throughout his campaign, and even his inaugural speech (“American carnage”) wallowed in hyperbolic bombast tearing down this country. Was he told, “If you don’t like it here, you can leave?” It’s his playing the “unpatriotic” card that’s totally un-American, a vicious assault on our fundamental democratic values.

At his rally, he repeated his “go back” garbage, and when the crowd chanted “Send her back!” he stood there smirking, basking in it, for thirteen long seconds. Next day, momentarily jarred by the backlash, he claimed he didn’t like it and had quickly tried to stop the chant. The video showed he’s a liar. And the day after he went back to praising the chanters.

Equally ghastly, he actually had the brass to call the four Congress members, and the whole Democratic party, “divisive” for daring to criticize him. Every accusation he flings at others applies more to himself. Divisiveness is the very heart of his politics. This latest hate-filled “go back” claptrap could not be more divisive. Tribal partisan hatreds are tearing America apart, destroying the country, and he keeps pouring gasoline on the fire.

Polls show two-thirds of Republicans agree with Trump. House Republican leader McCarthy, squirming to avoid criticizing him, said they’re “the party of Lincoln.” Who’s spinning in his grave. These Republicans have lost their moral minds.

On November 3, 2020, America must tell Trump, and all his deplorable fans: Go back to the sewer you came from.

* News media aren’t saying “allegedly racist” or “comments some call racist.” They’re just plain saying “racist comments.” Good for them. Case closed.