October 15, 2019

Horrific Fallout of Destructive Rhetoric

Mourners taking part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. REUTERS/Jose Luis

First I want to express my condolences to the many families who have experienced great loss this last 24 hours. One minute your family is whole, the next it is torn apart. This is a horrific and sad moment in our history. These many events, far too many over these years since Donald Trump became President, are part of our reality. I find myself continually outraged living through this presidency. Clearly, that lets you know my politics. Yes, I am a Democrat (and proud of it) and will relish the moment Donald Trump leaves the White House, G-d willing in 2021, if not then for sure in 2024, even if they have to literally drag him kicking.

This man, in my estimation, is one of the vilest human beings I have had the unfortunate experience to have to watch and listen to as his narcissistic, attention-getting, and petulant behavior and language smother us from every form of communication – TV, internet, twitter, newspaper, etc. Not only does he seem to suffer from what many psychiatrists would label as a personality disorder, but his continual expression of hate-filled, xenophobic, racist rhetoric, reflecting clearly prejudiced views against people of color, immigrants, those living in poor neighborhoods, women who don’t meet his standards of physical appearance, as well as political leaders and opponents who do not praise him, etc. have a powerful influence on the many already white supremacists who have held such hateful attitudes for a long time. Now they have permission and support to act out on their deep-seeded prejudices.

His most recent rantings against men and women of color, telling them either they govern in vermin-infested communities (such as Chairman Cummings) or that they should return to ‘sh—hole’ countries from where they originate fills the airways with such darkness and creates a climate that is unsettling and unsafe. The man who is a pathological liar and has a history of cheating the many people who have worked for him, believes that his restricted world-view,  the importance of ‘money and power,’ will insulate him from paying any price for his behavior. Like the ‘Emperor’s new clothes,’ he prances around convincing himself and many of those around him (like the cowardly Republicans who never call him out), that he is someone he is not. We see him for who he is – a coward who wants to hide in the America of the past when the Afro-American community was segregated, when women lived to serve their husbands and do the bidding of their bosses, when the Klu Klux Klan ran rampant asserting their White supremacy, and when men like McCarthy, could punish what he considered Anti-American sentiment, impacting Jews, Homosexuals, Communists and Socialists, and particularly the Hollywood community.

The latest shootings are part of the ongoing outrage his followers feel they have the right to act out. The confusion between the right to free speech, right to bare arms and the unconscionable destruction of human lives using army equipment needs attention by our government. They need to act to help limit and set controls to what is a chaotic and destructive reality we all have to live with. Our children go to school in fear and the rest of us have to wonder whether the mall, the theater, the park, or even the street is a safe place anymore. The last time I was in Las Vegas I took note that the long main-street walkway is now lined with large bumper protections I am assuming from hateful drivers running down pedestrians. 

His promise to his followers to drain the swamp is a joke. He has more swamp creatures running various departments, for the most part, people of great wealth who don’t identify with the rest of the country. The irony is he promised to help breath new life and jobs into so many who followed him and basically rewarded those of wealth, even boasting at Mar Lago how rich he made them, at the expense of so many of us who struggle to pay our bills and maintain a middle-class life-style. He has convinced this country that the White House has spread its ‘borders’ as far as Florida so he can frequent Mar Lago and play more golf than any president in history. I can’t even imagine how much of our own tax dollars cover the cost for travel and security for him, and his family, so that he can live the charmed life no other president has ever lived while in office. It is shameful and outrageous, not to mention his deficit spending, which is exactly the opposite of what he promised when he ran for office. As a businessman he was always willing to go into debt, invariably losing properties and casinos. His outrageous spending could deficit the country to the point of bankruptcy, a condition he has comfortably confronted personally numerous times. 

Trump’s Romanoff style of family loyalty and commitment and his desire to be counted as ‘royalty,’ as expressed by his family run business and foisting himself, and his progeny, in England, upon the Queen, is just a reflection of his need to rule as a demagogue believing he is above the law and can do anything he wants. Don’t we all remember when proudly expressed that he could kill someone on Fifth Ave and get away with it. His support of tyrants and dictators, who are known to murder their own–their families, their government employees, as well as dissidents, is both a reflection of his pathetic and sick values as well as his need to stay cozy with those who could pave the way for further business and hotels in far off places such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc. once he leaves office. 

I know impeachment is slowly closing in on him, even if McConnell and the Senate will not make it official. I would hope that the Congress would at least ‘censure’ this man for his vile and inhuman rhetoric and leadership leading to the horrific conditions at the border including the death of children. The one thing we learn from reading Torah is that speech has incredible power – it can lead to the creation of good and great and wonderful things and it can also lead to destruction, evil, and horrific impact on people’s lives. 

As Bill Maher said the other night, there is such a ‘fatigue’ so many of us are experiencing from the onslaught and horror of both despicable language and persistent attention-getting from Donald Trump. As much as I would like to just ignore it, my values that leaders should reflect honesty, integrity and compassion weigh heavily upon me and eat away at any sense of equanimity, despite the spiritual practice I engage in. How can we not be affected by the chaos, disruption, destruction, and arousal of fear living in the midst of overflowing hatred, including the anti-Semitism that lurks just around the corner. Black, Brown, Yellow, Muslim, Jewish, Puerto-Rican, Latina, Homosexual – we are all prospective targets in this climate.

What does it take to stand up for human rights? How terrified of maintaining your political position do you have to be to not be willing to stand with Democrats – shoulder to shoulder – and tell the world that what this man says is despicable, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. How saturated and de-sensitized have we become that we tolerate and/or even ignore the leader of our country as he destroys basic human values, our place in the world and pave the way for murdering innocent people whose color or place of origin is different than ours. It was people who ran away from leaders such as him who came to America to begin a new life and create a new vision for a country that would be called  ‘United’ states of America. United being the operative word. The National Cathedral has now put out a statement on behalf of their clergy calling out his racist rhetoric and asking, “…When will Americans have enough?”

As we enter a period in the Jewish calendar that marks horrific moments in our history, great destruction and suffering going as far back as 2,000 years to our Holy Temple, let us take note of what the rabbis teach in Talmud that one of the reasons this structure was destroyed was due to what is described as ‘baseless hatred’ of one other. We now live in a world where the most important leader both models and teaches ‘baseless hatred.’ Shouldn’t we take the time to not only honor and remember the past but to also learn from our mistakes and use whatever influence we have to teach others that division and hatred only bring disaster upon everyone.

G-d help us. May we find the strength to stand and express our indignation and, as the prophets of old, remind those around us when they are following the wrong path. I know there are more of us than of them, the 1/3 of the country that will follow this man into hell if need be. We must take back the most important position in the nation and pray that it is not too late to bring decency, honesty, safety, and integrity back to this country.