What do Romans 13 and Melania's Jacket Have in Common?

In the last six weeks, the Trump administration has separated over 2,500 immigrant children from their parents in an attempt to discourage other parents from applying for refugee status. Many of these children have become so lost within the system that the system itself doesn't know where they are.

Last week, Trump's attorney general quoted the Biblical book of Romans to justify the administration's position that it is immoral for people, even people who are in fear for their children's lives, to bring those children into America illegally: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers... for the powers that be are ordained of God.” The passage was previously used by British loyalists to proclaim the sinfulness of America's secessionist movement, and later by American slave holders to insist upon obedience to a law requiring all Americans, abolitionists included, to return escaped slaves to their masters. 

Yesterday, Donald Trump's wife put the frosting on the cake of the latest insanity when she traveled to one of the hundred or so child detention centers to show how much she cared about the welfare of immigrant children. Her jacket read, “I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?”* Her spokeswoman defended Melania's apparel by saying, “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.” The president disagreed, saying that Melania meant to convey that she didn't care what the "Fake News Media" says. I will spare you additional details, but suffice it to say that it was a fairly ordinary week in the Trump administration, with the country becoming even more angry and even more divided between the pro-Trumps and the anti-Trumps. Many wonder if we'll even have a country by the time Trump leaves office.

Peggy's father, Earl (who I knew for 40-years before I started calling him Dad), voted for Trump, and every time we've talked for the last two years, I wanted to ask him how he likes his choice, but I didn't because Peggy objected. Yesterday, he volunteered that Trump is just what America needs, a claim that he underscored by comparing The Donald to Teddy Roosevelt, a pre-WWI president whose racist imperialism spread senseless death around the world and who is best remembered for saying, "Walk softly but carry a big stick." 

I was so appalled by Earl's claim that the loudly bullying and ever boastful Trump "walks softy," that I seriously wondered if my 88-year-old Baptist deacon father-in-law is becoming senile. When I remembered that he watches Fox TV for hours a day, I surmised that a steady diet of hate speech in combination with old age must have rattled his brain, this being the most kindly interpretation that I could make. He and I have often disagreed, but until yesterday I at least respected his goodwill and intelligence. How though, am I to respect a man who believes that the fascistic callousness and brutality of the Trump Administration is born of strength, even Godliness? When I hung up the phone, I felt as if something within me had died. Scant though it is, my only comfort is that the same experience is being repeated all over America. Like Jesus before him, Trump  can truthfully claim: "I came not to bring peace, but a sword... to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.”

The pacifistic Quakers surely give more thought to morality than other churches. One of their guidelines is based upon the belief that we can only bring peace into the world to the extent that we rid ourselves of the animosity that causes war. I am failing miserably in this because I no longer regard our nation's political divide as representing a difference of opinion between well-meaning groups with neither group having a monopoly on truth, but rather as a war between the flawed good of the Democratic Party and the limitless evil of the Republican. To illustrate the enormity of this change, until well into this century, I consistently voted for Gordon Smith, a Republican senator, and I'll never forgive his Democrat rival, Jeff Merkely, for the dirty campaign that he waged in the election in which he defeated Smith. Now I don't know if I will ever again so much as consider voting for a Republican.

Democracy rests upon the high-minded belief that the best form of government is one in which issues are debated thoroughly, after which the people decide. Sadly, I can no longer accept the people's decision if their decision is in favor of a political party that I regard as distilled evil, a party exemplified by a man who starts his every day with a predawn resumption of the lying, bigotry, bullying, boastfulness, ignobility, and seamless asininity, of the day before. There is a huge chasm between being mistaken but acting honorably, and knowing exactly what manner of man you're voting for and electing him anyway. This is the essence of my disillusionment with Earl. When he voted for Trump in 2016, I thought he must surely be acting in ignorance, but now I see that I was the one who was ignorant, ignorant in my high esteem for Earl. It is said that time heals all wounds, so I can but hope that the future will find me thinking better of him than I do today.



Elephant's Child said...

Oh Snow.
The pain and the anger (mixed with a touch of fear?) in this post is palpable.
On the other side of the world I watch in horror. And cringe because some of the ugliness has infected our politicians as well.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

The Russians wanted to divide and conquer and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The only thing the two sides can possibly agree on is that the gulf is becoming wider and wider.

And Melania's jacket message? Unbelievable. Where are her advisors? In what world would her choice be anything except tasteless and heartless.
And using the Bible to justify vile behavior...my personal favorite.

How about the chances of a rich man entering heaven is the same as a camel walking through the eye of a needle, love thy neighbor, and judge lest ye be judged.

Emma Springfield said...

I think every family is having problems with believing or disbelieving that man. I no longer allow political discussions in my house because of the animosity it can cause. For my own part I have a hard time understanding that some people think he tells the truth about anything. Or as his newest attorney says, “Truth is relative. They may have a different version of the truth than we do.” TRUTH IS THE TRUTH!!!

Tom said...

I'm no Trump supporter, but while I cannot speak for your Uncle Earl, I do not believe that everyone who voted for him is an evil hateful person. My brother-in-law, for example. He voted for Trump. He has a different view of the world. I don't agree with him on a lot of things. But I know he's a popular teacher; he's volunteered to help a lot of disadvantaged kids; and yes, he also volunteers at his church. Anyway, I suggest you read "Liberals, You're Not as Smart as You Think" from May 12 NY Times for another perspective. And even so, I don't think the proper response to hate ... is to hate back.

Charles Gramlich said...

some people be cray. I don't understand how anyone could make the mistake of wearing that jacket on such a task