It’s hard to know where to begin with Trump’s latest insult to decency. His legions of supporters will trip over themselves finding excuses for his most recent hate filled rant. We should not be surprised however. His calculated, racist outburst began at the very onset of his campaign. First, his demonizing as rapists and thugs eleven million people who do the jobs in this country that the rest of us won’t do. Minor, inconsequential things like keeping our cities clean, raising our children, growing the very food we eat, and serving in our military. Then, his misogynic, contemptuous haranguing of women filled our airwaves. Next came his outlandish ideas of encasing America behind a wall of shame, ignoring the fact that more undocumented immigrants left the U.S. for Mexico than visa versa. This was soon followed by his fascist idea of monitoring houses of worship, and establishing a database for Muslims. Perhaps the good folks of the Third Reich could loan us their technique of monitoring citizens based on religious beliefs.
And maybe those same goose-stepping Good Germans could help us at the points of entry on how to detect Muslims from the rest of us. Exactly how did they bar Jews from not only entering Germany, but leaving as well? Perhaps Mr. Trump would like Muslim owned businesses to have the Muslim crescent painted on their shops to better inform the citizens of this country. And don’t forget to have them wear it on their clothing as well.
Then, desecrating the deepest well of our spiritual values, Mr. Trump advocates going after the women and children of ISIS. “Women and Children?” Is this what fear has driven us to? If we start targeting babies, two year olds, four year olds…how are we different than terrorists? Are we really willing to become what they are to defeat them? Then why bother? Why not simply enlist and join ISIS? Mr. Trump wants us to become a terrorist state just like the queasy state of the caliphate. And what are we to do with the clever Muslims who served, and continue to serve in the military? Many of who came home wounded from our endless wars. And still others who now claim real estate at Arlington as their final resting place. Speaking of which. We veterans: Muslims, Christians, Jews, and nonbelievers alike already have papers that differentiate us from the vast majority of our fellow citizens. Military I.D.s and DD214s. Where is yours, Mr. Trump? Talk is cheap. Willing to risk one’s life for your country is a whole different reality.
Think hard. Carpet-bombing. The intentional killing of babies, women and children. Torture. Labeling those who grow our food as rapists. Unlimited war. Unending war. Ideas even the vilest politicians would never have ushered a year ago, now takes center stage of America’s discourse. The world looks on in dismay. Frightened. They’ve heard this discourse before. All except ISIS, which surely must praise Mr. Trump for playing his part as their recruiting agent. He articulates very well the idea of the struggle against terror being transformed into a clash of civilizations. A generational war, that if it comes into being, would lead to the deaths of millions and the destruction of our rights, and the liberal, open, democratic society that we currently live in.
Discussing this with my son Milo, he had a simple suggestion. He thought that we should embrace refugees fleeing the horrors of war, and of the terror state that ISIS rules. We should video America welcoming them and integrating them into our communities. Then broadcast those video feeds back into the war zones, juxtaposing the hell that propelled them to leave in the first place with the humane treatment of an open, tolerant and liberal democracy. What better way to show the contrast between hate and hope? Decency and barbarity? Of course, such a tactic is not possible as long as fear leads our country. As long as demagoguery is the coin of the land and good people remain silent. Sadly, Mr. Trump is not solely to blame. The people who stand and cheer his hate by the thousands, and those who will respond to this article by defending him as they have in the past, share equal responsibility.
Fascism is not a word I use lightly. But Mr. Trump has unleashed something dark within us. It is up to all of us to confront evil: To raise our voices and defend those who he has purposely demonized in the pursuit of power. History will judge us as it did Germany. Will you go down in books as the Good German too busy, too scared, too preoccupied by life to stand and say: “Have you no decency, Sir?” For those who refuse to learn from history, they are forsaken to relive it. As for me, I will not be labeled the Good German. Mr. Trump offers us all a test. History will judge our personal response to it.