America, We Cannot Let This Be Our Epitaph

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

– T. S. Eliot

With all due respect to Mr. Eliot, I think he got it backwards. With a few notable exceptions – the Reconstruction era, the Cuban Missile Crisis – this nation has never been so close to the brink. The news that several pipe bombs were sent to the George Soros, the Obamas, the Clintons, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder and CNN should shake all of us to the core. That none of them exploded and killed anyone is nothing short of a miracle.

And while investigators from the FBI and the NYPD attempt to find out who was responsible for building and sending these bombs, the man who has been the chief protagonist in this shameful chapter in American history read from a carefully prepared statement in which he condemned “political violence,” and actually had the nerve to call for unity.

A friend of mine wrote this on his Facebook page:

I’m 58. There have been 12 presidents in my lifetime. Some I supported. Some I didn’t. But:

-Only one has repeatedly called for his opponent to be “locked up.”
-Only one has falsely suggested his predecessor was secretly born in a foreign country and founded an international terrorist group.
Only one has repeatedly called the press “enemies of the people.”
-Only one has encouraged his supporters to engage in violence against protesters and offered to pay their legal bills if they did so.
-Only one has called Mexicans “rapists.”
-Only one has ripped children from their mothers’ arms.
-Only one has called Nazis “very fine people.”
-Only one has lied about “thousands” of American Muslims celebrating on 9/11.
-Only one has spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about a holocaust survivor.

You cannot say and do these things and expect people to take you seriously when you call for “unity.” You just can’t.

I’m 57, have seen just as many presidents during my life, and I couldn’t have said it any better. Does someone have to die before this president stops his reckless behavior? Oh, I forgot, someone already has died; a journalist from a newspaper in the suburbs of Washington. And before we go any further, spare me the false equivalence argument. Having your dinner interrupted by a heckler – rude as that may be – doesn’t remotely rise to the level of being blown to bits. To suggest otherwise strains the bounds of credibility.

Jeff Zucker, President of CNN, issued this statement:

“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. The far they have shown no comprehension of that.”

We are devolving as a society, and my fear is that we might be nearing a tipping point. There’s a moment of truth for all democracies when they come face to face with their mortality. Ancient Greece and Rome met their demise because they could not deal with the political corruption that had infected both. I fear our end may be far more ghastly.

America, we cannot let this be our epitaph. We cannot let this carnival barker define us. Even now, as I write these words, Trump is holding another rally – this one in Wisconsin – to whip his base into a frenzy. His favorite target these days is a caravan of migrants that is fleeing the oppression of Latin America and heading for what many of them believe is a brighter, safer future in this country. They are still hundreds of miles away from the U.S. border, but to hear Trump, they’re practically in our living rooms.

This is not a president interested in problem solving; this is a president who’s interested in one thing: creating and cultivating an atmosphere of fear and loathing. It’s how he got elected and it’s how he maintains his grip over a party that long ago ceased having any connection to Abraham Lincoln. He demonizes his opponents in a way that would make Richard Nixon blush. He picks at the scabs that have covered the nation’s wounds for centuries and laughs at the carnage that ensues. Bereft of a moral compass, he is totally incapable of even the tiniest traces of empathy or self reflection. He didn’t even have the decency of lowering the White House flag during the memorial services for John McCain. Good God, an Amoeba has a thicker skin than this guy.

The manner in which Trump has given permission to white supremacists to strut their vile bigotry is deeply disturbing. Just the other day he proudly referred to himself as a nationalist. Fascists are nationalists; Hitler and Mussolini were nationalists. Not since the days of Jim Crow have we seen such overt racism given a green light by the one man we are supposed to count on to condemn it.

Trump’s contempt for the rule of law and his constant assault on his own intelligence community pose a direct threat to the security of this nation and its people. His lack of intellectual curiosity and his unwillingness to learn what is required of a commander in chief undermine his ability to do the job he was elected to do. His penchant for belittling our allies while cozying up to our enemies is placing decades-old alliances in jeopardy. Whoever succeeds him as president will have their hands full repairing the damage he is doing.

If, as John McCain said, we are indeed better than this, we have less than two weeks to prove it. On November 6th, millions of people will go to the polls to vote in the midterms, and they will have the opportunity to deliver a message loud and clear to this president. It will either be a stinging rebuke or a tacit approval. If it is the latter, we are finished as a republic.

Barack Obama believed in the better angels of man. But as the Bible tells us all too clearly, some of those angels are fallen.

What say you, the people?