Speaking my language

Barack Obama spoke my language. He spoke in a way that was familiar to me. He spoke like the many very intelligent people I work with speak, but arguably much better than most of us. He spoke with a meter, and his words were chosen carefully. For those of us who spend our time listening to people lecture about complex topics, and who spend our time listening to educators give lectures, his speech was familiar. 

Then we got Trump.

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Sad days

[Edit: I’m sure this is rough. I didn’t proofread it before publishing. It’s not supposed to be for anybody else’s consumption anyway. Perhaps I’ll go back and fix it, but if this note is still here, that hasn’t happened yet. For now it’s just a first draft, and a hope at some relief that never seems to come.]

The last week has been full of sadness. We’ve had stories of people dying at the hands of what seem to be poorly trained police officers (although I’m the first to admit that I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a cop), and just last night, at an overwhelmingly peaceful protest about those deaths, madmen struck and shot and killed police officers. Officers who were not involved in any of these horrible stories (and even if they were, it wouldn’t justify killing them), officers who were clearly part of the community, and who were there to help the protesters exercise their first amendment right to assemble. There seemed to be no animosity between the protesters and the police. I’m not sure why that matters to me, but I think it makes it especially sad that the shooting happened there, in a place, Dallas, that has a reputation for making it work, and making it work well.

I try to keep emotion out of this blog, in fact, that’s kind of the rule here, but I’m not sure I can keep it out of this one, and it’s my blog…really my diary, so I can break the rules when I want.

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The world is going to hell…um, not really

When I talk to people who support a candidate like Donald Trump, they seem almost completely driven by this crippling fear that the world is on fire, that the United States is falling apart, and that Washington is either helping this happen, or not effectively doing anything about it. I have to say that if I believed all of that was true, I could imagine the appeal of a candidate like Donald Trump. The problem is this: almost none of the fears that these people have are rooted in reality. Let’s take a bit to look at some things that might frighten us.

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Using your own words against you…

dave_brat_official_congressional_photo

David Brat is mad. He’s mad at Obama for asking Christians to be, well, more Christian. In a recent interview, Brat, a republican Member of the House of Representatives from Virginia, said that he was very upset with Obama. And in other news, water is wet. Kidding aside, Brat is upset because Obama used teachings that are part of Christianity to urge elected officials to be more compassionate. As was first reported by Right Wing Watch, Brat said that Obama “is using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible.” He went on to say that Obama is “mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love,” and further stated that “our side [the conservatives] needs to reeducate its people that we own the entire tradition.”

I understand that people get mad when their own words are used against them. I can appreciate that, but maybe, just maybe, when we’re called out for hypocrisy, we should be upset at ourselves for being hypocrites, instead of being mad at the person who pointed it out. To be fair, however, there’s a part of me that see’s Brat’s point, but only a little bit.

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In a world of fear

I wrote a piece a couple of months ago arguing that we are experiencing a very hateful time in our history. Not that we feel like we hate people more than ever before, but that we feel more hated than ever before.  For some time, I had connected some of this with a persecution envy that seems to be everywhere, and feels so strange to me, but I’m starting to think that this hatred is stemming from our culture of fear. We are afraid of everything, and so much of what we see tells us that we’re not afraid enough.

 

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Another FaceBook Post

I still haven’t figured out exactly what I want from this blog, so for now it’s just a repository of my thoughts. A place to think things through. Sometimes I do this first on FaceBook. Sometimes I do this only on FaceBook. Sometimes I do it here first, and sometimes it’s only here. This morning I posted the following on FaceBook, and like my earlier post, I wanted to have it here too….in my pseudo-diary.

What we (all) need to realize is that very few people think they’re bigots and very few people are OK with being called bigots. The mental acrobatics needed to evade that label, when calling for an entire religious group to be barred from the country or selectively targeted is pretty impressive, but probably very normal. Being called a bigot will only make people retreat, and stop listening, but I don’t know what else to do, because the bigotry is intolerable.

My earlier post, shared from a friend, makes the point that the things people are saying about Muslims today would sound very much like Nazi propaganda if the word “Muslims” was replaced with “Jews.” But those saying these things, or supporting those who are saying these things, will argue that it’s not the same. It’s not the same because Jews aren’t trying to hurt the United States, and Muslims are. Remember that the Nazi rhetoric convinced a large proportion of Germany that Jews were trying to hurt Germany. Jews were likened to rats that carry disease to the country. The propaganda told people that Jews were shaving their beards to look like other eastern Europeans so they could infiltrate the country, waiting to strike. Jews were trying to spark war.

Trump was on Morning Joe this morning and was asked to respond to the charge that his tone, his proposals, are frightening people. His response was that we should be much more afraid of Muslims than we should be of him. This is the same tactic that was used in the 1930s. Hitler made it clear that if the Jews weren’t stopped, the Aryan peoples will be exterminated.

In a now famous speech, Hitler said (in German, not English), “We see clearly that this war could only end with the extermination of the Germanic peoples, or that Jewry must disappear from Europe. I already said it on September 1, 1939 in the German Reichstag, that this war will not end the way the Jews have foreseen it, namely that the European Aryan peoples will be exterminated; rather the result of this war will be the annihilation of Jewry. For once all the others will not bleed to death alone; for once the ancient Jewish law will come into play: an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.”

The message: Jews wand to destroy their way of life. Jews want to annihilate white Europeans. The only answer is to destroy Jews.

This tactic was evil then, and the tactic is evil now. My plea to those I love who may succumb to this rhetoric, who may find ways to justify it: Don’t be on the side of evil. Don’t say, “yeah but…” Don’t say that Muslims ARE trying to hurt America, because when you do that, you’re condemning an entire group of 1.6 billion people for the acts of far less than 1% of them. You’re defining a group by the worst 1% (probably even much less). People say that a few bad apples spoil the bunch, but I’ve eaten lots of apples and I don’t think that’s true at all. You can easily pick out the good apples and enjoy them with honey like it’s Rosh Hashanah. And the bad apples probably aren’t all bad either. Cut off the bruise and the rest could be just fine. Be on the side of good, even if you’re afraid. Please.