The Contagion of Evil

             When Donald Trump became a candidate for president of the United States, there was a fairly substantial number of Republicans who pushed back against his rhetoric, his name-calling, and his general disregard for diplomacy and decorum.

His fellow candidates decried his lack of character. This man was no serious contender, they seemed to suggest. He was compared to a used car salesman; candidate Ted Cruz called him a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and a “narcissist.” The battle was brutal. Nothing, though, that Trump said or did riled his supporters, his almighty “base.” There was no lie, no insult, no racial or sexual slur, no put-down of American heroes – nothing – that could pull them from his side, and he won. (

And now, most of the Republicans who criticized him are glued to his side, seeking his help and support, making excuses for him, with no shame.

It is difficult to watch.

What Cruz said about Trump is true: he is, in fact, a pathological liar, and a shameless one at that. But Cruz sucked up to him in order to win his bid for reelection to the Senate, and he won. Lindsay Graham, who had many crass words for Trump, is now acting like his best friend, basically endorsing anything Trump says he wants to do. Mitch McConnell is a shameless sycophant, leading the Senate to honor the president and his wishes over the well-being of the country whose constitution he swore to honor and protect.

The evil of Trump, simply put, spread. The late theologian Walter Wink said that evil is a contagion and said that many people who fight evil will become evil. Specifically, he said, “…the struggle against evil can make us evil and no amount of good intentions automatically prevents this from happening.” ( It seems that the majority of Republicans, who may have prided themselves on being “good” and on the right side of morality, have slipped into Trump’s moat and have found that deep within, they are not all that different from him. Moreover, they do not seem to care; the contagion has infected their very souls.

The partial government shutdown has illustrated the depth of the evil that is bubbling around us. Few of the Republican senators have voiced outrage or concern for the nearly 1 million people who did not get paid. Few have offered any solution which would indicate that they care about or worry about how people are going to get through this economic catastrophe. Graham is on record as having told Trump to go ahead and declare a “national emergency,” not caring about how doing that will seriously undermine the capacity of such an emergency to be called if really needed. (Reports say that there is no “national emergency” on the Southern border.)

Even as discussion about other ways to get the $5.6 billion Trump is asking for, there has been little outrage at the suggestion that money designated to help cities in America hit by natural disasters be redirected to build “the wall.” The so-called “fiscal conservatives” are showing their willingness to spend money at will, and Trump himself said that he doesn’t worry about the consequences of the tremendous debt he is incurring because when that happens, he won’t be around. (

To not care about those who suffer is evil. To buy into policies that will adversely affect millions of people is evil. To act like your life is the only one that matters is evil. It is as though Trump sneezed and his infected droplets fell all over the souls of the GOP. The evil is spreading, following the path on which other democracies found themselves before they ultimately fell. And the evil is not just spreading among the lawmakers; it is spreading amongst the general population. Extrajudicial, state-sanctioned shootings are not only continuing but increasing; white civilians are calling the police on black people at will; hate crimes are rising, and there seems to be no “doctor in the house,” no lawmaker or judge who is concerned about the decaying of our social fabric.

Walter Wink was right. Evil is contagious, and like a necrotic bacteria, it is eating this country alive.

A candid observation …


Donald Trump’s Whining Shows his Ignorance

The system of electing a president has been the same …since the days the Founding Fathers set up the system.

So, why is Donald Trump complaining that the system isn’t fair?

It might be unfair, true, but it is the system and it has been in place …forever.

Donald is crying and whining that the system is rigged against him. But it isn’t.

The Founding Fathers made it so that presidents are ultimately chosen by the Electoral College. Whoever gets the most electoral votes is the winner.

It’s a winner-take-all system. So, the trick is to win as much of the popular vote as possible. That way, even if you get just a hair’s breath majority of the popular vote, you get all of the electoral votes of any given state.

Each state gets as many electors as it has congresspersons and senators. Larger states have more electors.

I suppose this is a democratic way of voting. It doesn’t feel like “one man, one vote” is the reality here.  Democracy as I understand it goes out of the window when it comes to the ways America has worked to suppress the votes of many, especially African-Americans. Gerrymandering seems to me to be dishonorable; it keeps “the establishment” in power, and it works against the people and their needs and demands.

The money it takes to get elected to the White House is, well, unforgivable. In 2012, the presidential election cost $2 billion. Some believe that this year’s election will cost up to $5 billion. (

How many schools could we build for that amount of money? How many contaminated water pipes in Flint could be replaced? How many services for people in need could be funded by that kind of money?

The system is crazy. It feels unfair. It feels like people’s votes are negated. It leaves a lot of room for the votes of some to be suppressed, and has led to that in years past and even today. A black man in Wisconsin took three forms of ID to the polls in Wisconsin last week and still couldn’t vote. (

It feels like the system is rigged …but it is the system, put in place long before Donald Trump was even thought about. We learned it in civics class in high school, or at least I did. I wonder if Donald missed those lessons.

Sorry, Donald. It’s not about you.

A candid observation…



When Despair Wins

There is a community of young, black activists in Columbus, Ohio, which is mourning today.

They are mourning and they are in shock because one of their foot-soldiers, MarShawn McCarrel, apparently killed himself yesterday. The report say that he killed himself on the steps of the Ohio State House, a location from which many marches have begun.

MarShawn was a poet and an activist, who was fierce about fighting for the dignity of black people. Up close, he was shy and unassuming, polite and well-mannered. To think that he is gone is almost too much to bear.

As I listen to GOP politicians talk about Americans being angry, I am angered because in their dialogues about anger, they do not consider the anger and frustration and sense of despair of black people. Many older black people have learned to manage their hopelessness, but the young people, those in the streets and in the malls and in the courthouses demanding dignity and justice…have not.

Not a single GOP candidate has bothered to mention that the despair of black people is valid. It is a despair with which we have lived for generations. Not Trump, not Rubio, not Cruz, not Christie…none of them seem to give a horse’s ass about what black people go through because of white supremacy.

Not a one of them (of the ones I mentioned) have voiced concern and/or outrage over the lead-filled water given to people in Flint, Michigan, but I would bet that all of them will, in the future, be on some bandwagon to do something with black kids who have behavior problems – forgetting that lead affects people in horrific ways for years. Lead poisoning affects everything from IQ to the ability to have a healthy body. Not a one of these candidates, and too many white people – care about that. They say that they are pro-life, but they only want life for unborn fetuses and for white people.

They want their country back, a country marked by racism, sexism, homophobia and an economy which puts way too many people on the bottom, without thought of what poverty does to people.

They don’t think about what black and brown kids feel when they go into schools that are shoddy and broken, where heat doesn’t work in the winter and air conditioning doesn’t work in the summer. They don’t think about or care about what it must feel like for little black children to see their white counterparts with fine, fancy schools and they are given the worst facilities imaginable.

They don’t care that in many urban schools, the toilets don’t work, the windows are broken, and the books are old. They don’t think that these little children have feelings, and grow up believing they are inferior because they are treated as though they are inferior, like they do not matter.

The kids, the young people, who have taken to the streets, are tired and angry. They are tired of being ignored. Tired of being marginalized. Tired of being shot down or shot at. Tired of being labeled. Tired of getting second best. But none of the GOP candidates talk about that anger. It is only the anger of white people who feel like perhaps they are losing control of their grip on America that seems to matter.

My heart is breaking today because this young man is said to have committed suicide. He fought until he couldn’t fight any longer. His anger turned inward, where it morphed into depression and finally into despair. He went to the place where unjust laws are made, and he killed himself.

Those running for president should care about the despair about all people, not just their base. White anger is no more sacred than is black anger. And black anger in America has a history grounded in the policies and practices meted out because of white supremacy.

In the Bible it says that God will turn our mourning into dancing. I guess God didn’t get to MarShawn soon enough.

A candid observation…



The Pied Piper of America

There is a children’s story about a town that had a plague of rats. There were so many rats that it was unbearable. A man came to the town – Hamelin, located in Germany, dressed in brightly colored clothing. He listened to the people who were, of course, distressed about the rats and he offered to get rid of them if they would pay him. They agreed and he took out a musical instrument and began to play and the rats followed. He led them to a body of water and they all jumped in and died. The Pied Piper of Hamelin did what he said he would do …and the people were overjoyed …but they reneged on their promise to pay him. He left the town, angry.

But he returned a short time later, dressed differently, and began to play his musical instrument again. This time, there were no rats, but his music enticed the children to come. About 130 children followed him, laughing, skipping, singing …and none of them were ever seen again. Two children were spared, one, because he was deaf and could ot hear the music and another because he had left the group to go back to his town to get his coat and just couldn’t catch the group.

I thought about that story as I have reviewed the growing following of Donald Trump. The rats are the economy, the immigrants, the establishment …and the people who have for too long felt marginalized and ignored are feeling the power of this man Trump who has come into a mythical Hamelin to get rid of the vermin. They want their lives back. They want to stop worrying and fretting and they want to be heard. Donald Trump has come wearing a cloak made of golden threads that the people see as threads of hope for them. He says he will fix everything, and all of the people will be better off. He needs no help from anyone; like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Trump has his pipe, or flute, from which comes music smacking of sexism and racism and homophobia and Islamophobia, and the people are elated. The “vermin” of American society, at least in their eyes, will be driven out by the  Piper Trump. They promise him their votes as he rids them of the vermin which are stealing their capacity to live the American Dream. He will get rid of the Mexicans, the Muslims, he will put the Black Lives Matter folks in their place, and make sure there are no ridiculous background checks, which he says is a violation of the Second Amendment. He is going to get rid of health care for all Americans, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, he is going to bomb ISIS out of existence, he is going to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and make Mexico pay for it.

The people are elated! The vermin will be gone. America will be great again!

The people will pay up, at least the first installment. If they don’t vote in the primaries, he will humiliate them and call them traitors and stupid or worse …They will vote. His opponents will continue to tiptoe around him for a while longer …but even when they get more bold and go after him as he has gone after almost everyone, the people of Hamelin (aka America) will support him, because they want their country to be great again and it just cannot be great with all these …outsiders …and changes going on. They will pay up…but they’re going to make him mad, or if he is elected president, the Congress will make him mad, or maybe the Supreme Court, or maybe Russia or maybe North Korea or maybe Syria or maybe even Israel …and then, watch out.

The Pied Piper will seek vengeance. The question is …who will he lead into oblivion as he lives out his tantrum?

America, America, can’t you see it? We have our own Pied Piper.

A candid observation …

American Politics Immoral and in Opposition to the Will of God

American politics is an immoral endeavor, a reality which uses money to protect the rights and interests of the few over the many. But if ever there was and is a time for “we the people” to speak up and make our voices heard, it is now.

Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz …are all saying obnoxious things. Trump’s statement about Mexican immigrants ended up being widely criticized, but didn’t stop his rise in the polls. Mexico, he said, is not sending their best. Said Trump:  “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” In spite of offending Mexicans, Trump has refused to apologize.

Mike Huckabee said that President Obama is basically leading Israelis “to the door of the oven,” as he criticized the pending “deal” with Iran. He, like Trump, has refused to apologize to any Jewish people whom he might have offended.

The offensive remarks will continue as the wide field of GOP presidential hopefuls gears up for the fight that will be necessary to win the Republican nomination. That’s politics.

But there are two facts that are infuriating. One, I would bet that not one of these guys will seriously deal with the crisis in America that has been growing in scope since the murder of Trayvon Martin. Across the nation, the Black Lives Matter movement has been loud and vocal, protesting the deaths of black people at the hands of police, mostly white. A huge swath of American people, African-American men, women and youth – have been crying out for justice as the police officers who have killed unarmed black people have done what they’ve done with no accountability. The latest claims by police that Sandra Bland and Kendra Chapman died by hanging themselves by hanging while in police custody have only added fuel to the fire. One more black woman, Ralkina Jones, died while in police custody as well. All three women died while in police custody within the span of a month – and yet not one of these political candidates have addressed the issue. That is a problem.

The second fact that is infuriating is that all of these candidates are spending literally billions of dollars on their campaigns. Billions. There are children in this nation who are homeless and hungry and these guys are spending billions of dollars. There are people who once had jobs and lost them, their homes, their livelihood and their hope …and these guys are spending billions of dollars on …what? Television ads which will spew their negative rhetoric against each other, working to manipulate American citizens and get them to vote for them …while masses of American citizens languish in poverty, despair and injustice.

We will hear a lot in this campaign about the Iran deal, how it’s wrong. We will hear about same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, and how those laws need to be repealed. We will hear about how there will be a wall built between America and Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out.

But I would bet we will hear little to next to nothing about a justice system which is not just, but which appears to be a tool for the system to put African-Americans away. I would bet that we will hear little to next to nothing about how American policies and practices have created the cradle to prison pipeline; we will hear little to next to nothing about police malpractice, and about a system which allows police to do basically what they want with whom they want with no fear of having to answer for it.

We will not hear about how something must be done to stop the slaughter of unarmed black people by police. We will hear nothing about the substandard schools in America’s cities and in its rural areas. We will hear nothing from those who say they are pro-life about how they ignore the issue of life once a fetus becomes a baby with needs. We will hear nothing about how poverty in this, the land of the free and home of the brave causes millions of children to go hungry in the summer when there is no school.

It is disgusting, the way these candidates ignore the cries of “the least of these,” and basically blame them for their plight, and it is troubling that they will not feel obligated to address America’s very real problems which are based on and come from, racism and class differences.

The only way they will address these issues – and they should be made to address them, is if “we the people” force the issue. I heard somewhere that change comes when the masses demand it. We all know that Frederick Douglas said “power concedes nothing without a demand.” Well, if ever there was a time for a demand, it is now. The young people in the Black Lives Matter movement have begun the process, but they cannot do it alone. We are in a time that is every bit as critical as was the time in the 60s when the masses gathered to demand the right to vote and to go to any restaurant or public facility they wanted. This is not the time to be quiet or to sit still.

As society has changed, the cry “We want our country back” has grown louder and louder. What is that country that they cry for? It is a country based on racism, exclusion, sexism, homophobia, militarism and materialism, for starters. It is a country where white people have been in control of everything. The cry is to go back to that America …but we cannot let that be the case. This upcoming presidential election is an opportunity for “we the people” to bust some walls down, to demand to be heard, to make the candidates address the needs, the hearts and the concerns of “the least of these.” Now is not the time to be quiet, still, or complacent.

No person should be president of this nation unless he or she is genuinely concerned about the masses of people. In order to make sure they understand that fact, the masses should demand to be heard. American politics is immoral because it ignores the dictates of the Bible so many politicians claim to love: We are to take care of “the least of these,” according to Jesus the Christ. If we cannot and will not do that, we do not deserve to call ourselves a Christian nation.

A candid observation