For months President Donald J. Trump has been playing to the redneck loyalists who feel empowered by his hateful condemnation of NFL “Take A Knee” protestors. But those kneeling protestors represent a patriotic call for our nation to circle back and faithfully address unfulfilled promises of equal treatment by law enforcement, regardless of color and ethnicity?
As a nation we need to repair our faults and that includes admitting and mastering unresolved issues surrounding racism. If it takes kneeling and standing “inappropriately” to focus attention on our nation’s unfulfilled promises of full citizenship for all, then so be it. Let’s be cautious and guard against an inflated sense of national virtue and its disdain for impartial social justice.
This week President Trump laid to rest any question about his capacity to hate those who are “different.” During a discussion about our nation’s immigration policies he referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries.” He then said the U.S. should accept immigrants from countries like Norway — aaaah yes, Norway where most folks are lily white. And let’s not forget that according to the tweeting twit in the Oval Office, Mexican immigrants are rapists and druggies. The president’s racism tarnishes us all. Our so-called national beacon of light to the world is fast fading.
Nationalism has been neutered by loud-mouthed, self-proclaimed, hyper-zealous Americans safely hiding behind cheap three dollar red-white-and-blue lapel pins. All progress — social, political, theological — depends on the courage to doubt and question and the strength to follow reason. Frankly, zealous nationalism is frightening. It’s too often at the root of bigotry and racism. The Judeo-Christian concept of a “chosen” people, a “chosen” nation doesn’t stand the test of logic. This myth of “superior chosenness” denigrates all “those others” as merely “unchosen.” I refuse to worship a petty little man-made god. And I refuse to honor demands from any institution, including my government, to divide and “rank” humanity by national boundaries, skin color, ethnicity, language or religion.
Noted historian Hannah Arendt, in her classic history of fascism “The Origins of Totalitarianism” points out that no human dignity is left if the individual owes his value only to his national birthplace. About Nazi Germany, Ms. Arendt writes, “Divine origin changed the people into a uniform ‘chosen’ mass of arrogant robots.” Hopefully, most U.S. citizens will not surrender their freedom to doubt, question and follow where reason leads. And hopefully in the process we’ll reduce our nation’s faults.
French social critic Albert Camus put it best, “Patriotism is a way of loving ones country that consists in never wanting that country to be unjust, and telling it so.” It’s time for all of us to join in a loud chorus stating unequivocally, “President Donald J. Trump is a damn racist!”
Dave Gauger lives in Raymond and owns Gauger Media Service, a company that helps broker the sale of newspapers. He formerly owned the Raymond Herald and other newspapers, as well as radio stations.