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.