Trump, God and White Anger

White people are mad.

A significant swath of white Americans have been angry since Barack Obama won the White House. Winning it once ws bad enough; winning it  second time was a brutal kick in teeth.

The anger of this so-called “silent majority” has been and is consistently honored on Fox News, but politicians in major elections have voiced this anger in different venues. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann drew pretty significant support in their political aspirations largely because they voiced the passion and the pain of white Americans who believed then and still believe that America was created for white people. Rand Paul, running in this 2016 race, said unashamedly as be began the  trek toward the presidency, “We’ve come to take our country back.” His statement drew wild applause. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/04/07/rand-paul-set-to-announce-presidential-run/).  He then gave a nice political ditty, outlining all the ways in which he believes America lost her way, but the passion is in the undercurrent, the things nobody really wants to say: many white Americans think too many people of color – beginning with black people and now being compounded by the immigrants coming to America in droves …are in this land compromising and changing not only the character and flavor of the land but in fact its very purpose –  and they are mad.

Donald Trump is gaining in the polls because he is saying publicly what so many white people say in private. The legacy of America – which is not democracy and egalitarianism, but which is, instead, oligarchy and inequality – is being tampered with. The Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Majority Movement in North Carolina, says America doesn’t have a Republican or Democrat problem, it doesn’t have a Liberal or Conservative problem…but it has, instead, a “heart problem.” And the heart of America, in spite of those who might argue against it, is one of white supremacy.

Perhaps the depth of this anger – this unspoken, for the most part – is illustrated by the fact that some Evangelicals are speaking support for Trump in spite of the fact that he has said publicly that he has never sought forgiveness  from God. He said when he does something wrong he just tries to do something good or right. ( http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/)  Fair enough, but this nation has made a big deal out of being Christian, and one of the central tenets of Christianity is seeking and giving forgiveness. What does that say about the religion of Conservatives? Have they somehow compromised the requirements of God and Jesus the Christ? Can you trust, theologically and religiously, anyone who blatantly and arrogantly says he purposely ignores the commands of the Christ?

White anger is not new. That anger rose up after Reconstruction when whites fought to undo every gain that was made during that period of time. Whites fought a “new civil war,” determined to win, not with guns, but with government. They pushed blacks out of political office, compromised and/or took away their right to vote, created policies which in effect created ghettos, and kept blacks basically subservient to whites in all the ways they could. They were angry that they lost the war; they were angry that new policies made the ground between blacks and whites more level, and they were not going to have it. The creation of Jim Crow made it virtually impossible for blacks to be treated as equal human beings, but tht wsa the plan. Whites wanted their country back, and that country did not include black people doing what they felt was saved and relegated for whites only.

Donald Trump knows that sentiment; he obviously feels it and it is clear that many, many Americans feel it, too. Whites are angry that Barack Obama won the White House – twice. They are mad that laws have been created to protect the LGBT community, going so far as to allow same sex couples to marry. They are angry that illegal immigrants – many of whom they use to keep their lawns kept up and their houses clean – keep coming into this nation. They are fighting to take America back to the “good old days” when white people operated and protected a land which did not provide “liberty and justice for all,” but instead kept folks under control, using the law and the courts. Their idea of democracy was a land where whites were in control and everyone else was under their thumb.

It feels like Trump and this “silent majority” are acting rather like spoiled children. They cannot get their way as easily as they once could, and they are angry about it. It feels like they will do all they can, in whatever way they can, to get things “back to normal.” When even the Evangelicals are willing to give a presidential a pass when he has said publicly that he ignores the command of God the Father and Jesus the Christ to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, you know that the anger is real.

It is very real. And it is very dangerous…

A candid observation …

Affordable Care Act Overdue

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HR3590-Patient-Protection-and-Affordable-Care-Act_1 (Photo credit: Obama For America – California)

Sarah Palin is probably right: the passage of the Affordable Care Act by the United States Supreme Court will mobilize the Tea Party Conservatives, and probably others.

The presidential election will be fierce and fiery, more negative than it might have been had the High Court struck down the law, with cries of “socialism” leveled against President Obama.

But in the midst of the sound and the fury, poor people, unemployed people and underemployed people will have access to health care. And for that, I breathe a sigh of relief.

I am beginning to understand what I call the “politics of the fortunate,”  the “fortunate” being those lucky enough to have enough resources to live comfortably in this country. In many of their minds, entitlements, including Medicaid, welfare, and other large-scale programs funded by the government to aid the poor allow and encourage people to be lazy and content to allow others to pay for their needs.

What “the fortunate” don’t seem to understand is that while there are certainly people who take advantage of government programs, many people would rather die than take government assistance, yet would probably literally die were not government assistance available for them.

They don’t seem to understand that many of the unemployed are not working because they seriously cannot find a job; they don’t seem to understand that underemployment is as bad as is unemployment in many instances, not providing enough money for employees to adequately take care of themselves and their families.

What they don’t seem to understand is that just because a person is poor does not mean that that person does not deserve to be treated as a human being. People in the 21st century ought not be walking around with cancer that they cannot afford to get treated, or with abscessed teeth because they cannot afford to go to a dentist.

What they don’t seem to understand is that nobody wants to be poor. Nobody wants to struggle financially. And nobody wants to be penalized and be made to feel like they are not worthy of health care just because they are poor.

It feels strange to live in a country where many put more value on the proliferation of military might than on the protection and care-giving of its own citizens. It feels even stranger to be involved in wars that fight for democracy in other lands while democracy here is broken – because, surely, a country that does not take care of its poor is broken.

I have heard people today say that this health care bill converts America into a socialist country. I do not understand,  but I am sure it has something to do with the resentment that many have that the poor are being helped along by the government …and by their tax dollars.

If you never see the poor, look into their eyes, see how they live, see what they endure, then it’s easy to be dismissive and critical of their presence. If you have not been unemployed or underemployed, it is, again, easy to make judgments about people who are in those situations, and blame them for their situations.

Sarah Palin, like I said, is probably right. This action by the High Court is going to get the Tea Party boiling mad and energized in their fight against big government.

But as we have big government anyway, much of the recent “bigness” put in place by President Bush, causing us to go into serious debt, I rest a little easier knowing that some of my tax dollars are going to help those who absolutely cannot get out of their economic ruts. Like it or not, that is a reality in America. Perhaps one of the biggest differences  between the “haves” and the “have-nots”  is that those in the former group are more likely to have help to get out of their ruts, while the have-nots get more and more entrenched in theirs.

All people, wealthy or poor, deserve health care.  No human is so poor that he or she deserves to be treated like an object with no feelings and no needs.

A candid observation …

Apology for Burning of Qurans?

I a trying to figure out why “good Christians” are attacking President Obama for apologizing to the Afghan people for what some Americans did to the Quran, the holy book of the Muslim people.

President Obama, in his apology, said that the burning of the Qurans, which were taken from possessions of a detainee center’s library and were burned because in the opinion of the Americans, they contained “extremist inscriptions,” was an “unintentional error.”

But some Christians are attacking the president for that, including Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.  Gingrich said that the president “surrendered” to the Afghans by apologizing for the burnings. His anger is tinged by resentment that the president has not asked for the Afghan government to apologize for the killing of two Americans, reportedly in retaliation for the burnings.

Palin, as well, says that “now the Afghans should apologize for killing two Americans.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has extended condolences to the parents of the murdered Americans, but has not issued an official apology. His energy at this point is being put into trying to quell the rising anger of Afghans who were insulted by the burning of the Qurans.

Gingrich and Palin cannot be faulted for wanting an apology for the Americans who were killed. These were two innocent people who, as far as we know, had nothing to do with the horrific act of burning the Qurans.

But as Christians, i.e., people who say they believe in Jesus the Christ, ought these two prominent political people admit that we as Americans need to apologize when anyone in the name of our government offends another country by an act such as this?

I keep thinking of how we would react, as Americans, if a foreign army official burned some of our Bibles because they thought they were being used for purposes other than spreading the Good News. I shudder to think of it; there would be outrage the likes of which we cannot imagine.

President Obama’s apology (and that from other U.S. officials) has not stopped the umbrage felt by the Afghan people, but that does not mean that as a person of faith and of decency he should not have offered that apology. Right is right. The Jesus I read about in the Bible demands love of our neighbor, and love includes treating them as human beings, rather than as an “object.”

It feels like Gingrich and so many others are attempting to feed into the fear so many Americans have of Muslims, repeating over and over the threat of “radical Islamists.”  Yes, there are some radical Muslims, who would tear the world apart if they could, but so are there radical Christians who would be willing to do the same, if given the chance.

Like it or not, we are not living in a vacuum. Because of globalization, we are more and more in contact with people we as Americans never had to think about before. They are our neighbors; they are children of God, like it nor not, deserving of respect. I, for one, hope that President Karzai can calm his people down, and get them to know that there is not a need to  hate all Americans because of what a couple of insensitive Americans did.

The president was right to apologize. It was the Christian thing to do.

A candid observation …

Merriam-Webster: qur’ans definition: the book composed of sacred writings accepted by Muslims as revelations made to Muhammad by Allah through the angel Gabriel.

America, Christmas, and the Great Commandment

Though I’ve heard a lot of people voice anger and angst over not feeling comfortable saying “Merry Christmas,” being urged to say “Happy Holidays” instead, I find myself thinking that it’s good that America is really living up to its legacy as a pluralistic nation.

When I was a kid, nobody said anything else about any other religion. It was simply, “Merry Christmas,” and it was fine. There was Santa and Christmas Carol, and there was the baby Jesus. We never mentioned Hanukkah, though there were plenty of Jewish children around, our classmates, actually. In fact, some of my Jewish friends said that their families celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah …not the Jesus part …but the tree and gift part.

We Christians didn’t hear much, if anything, about Hanukkah, and if we did, we certainly didn’t know what it was about. That is so …not cool…for a religion, Christianity, which sprang from Judaism. The eight day celebration, commemorating the dedication or rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem seems to be as central to our existence as Christians as it is to the history of Judaism.

In other words, had the Jews not regained control of Jerusalem, there might not have been a Christianity.

That opinion aside, there is something larger here. America is not monolithic. Our motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” or, “out of many, one,” is what America is supposed to be all about; it is what marks us as a unique place, a democracy that is different from every other country in the world.

Instead of celebrating that, though, we have had an environment where everyone has tried to assimilate into the mainline culture, which was white and Protestant. In doing that, we created boundaries between us, something Rev. Dr. James Forbes once called “verusism” in a sermon he did about the woman at the well. We became a nation which was diverse according to the census, but closed according to the reality of how we lived. One had to be “better than” or “truer than” another in order to feel affirmed.

Meanwhile, what happened to all of the other faces in the crowd?

The worst thing about being a pluralistic yet closed society is that such a state creates, increases and incubates ignorance, which leads to hatred, fear, and bullying.

Saying “Happy Holidays” acknowledges that we are appreciative of all of the people who live in America and who have made important contributions; it says that we are secure enough in our own religion to respect another. There is Christmas, the birth of the Christ, surely, but there are also other religions which, to their adherents, are just as important to them as our religion is to us.

Sarah Palin blasted President Obama for sending out a Christmas card that says “From our family to yours, may your holidays shine with the light of the season.” But a card sent out by President Reagan in 1987 says, “The President and Mrs. Reagan extend to you warm wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.”

The card is signed by Mr. Reagan.

On a caustic note, every politician knows that he or she cannot govern or expect to win re-election by being exclusivist. They must be diplomatic and use language that does not offend any of their potential supporters.

But on a humanistic note, to use “neutral” or “inclusive” language is just plain …American, not to mention polite. A mentor of mine, the late Rev. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, shared with us that we Christians should never do an invocation at a public event and end the prayer with “in the name of Jesus,” because many people in the audience will not be Christian and will feel left out.

The thing is this: at the heart of every religion is the need for love, and love is inclusive. In the Christian Bible, we are fond of quoting 1 Corinthians 13, where it says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…it does not delight in evil but rejoices at the truth.” Paul the Roman Jew touched and converted by the Christ, wrote that.

And the truth is, America is a pluralistic nation.  We don’t often embrace that fact.

A candid observation …

Sarah Palin: Whatever!

I listened to Sarah Palin, the soon-to-be ex-governor of Alaska yesterday and was totally unimpressed.

I was unimpressed with her statement; it was all over the place, presented like there had been little to no preparation.  She rambled; I struggled to find the center.

Then she laid the bombshell: she not only was not going to seek re-election, which was OK,  but she was also resigning as governor.

What the hell?

I thought that I must have missed something in her statement. Whatever had happened to her that does not happen to all politicians? Politics is the dirtiest profession ever. There is no respect of individuals or their families; everything they do is held up to scrutiny. They are held to unrealistic expectations, are crucified when they make mistakes or change their minds; they are walking targets.

That is the nature of the game, right? Destroy someone so that you can rise?

So, what’s the deal with this whining that Palin is doing? Yes, for sure there are double standards when it comes to men and women. Any woman in a profession dominated by men knows that. Yes, the media took some cheap shots. Yes, some comments made about her family were unconscionable. I could not have borne it.

But I didn’t choose to be a politician. Palin did. She opted to play with the big boys, and then, when the big boys showed their game, she quit??? All women in politicis have had to deal with the double standard phenomenon. Hillary Clinton did, but she didn’t quit. She toughed it out. I know, she didn’t have a pregnant teen daughter, and she didn’t have an infant for people to take cheap shots at.

But she had to endure the same double standard that Palin felt.

As she talked, I found myself wondering what the real deal was or is. What, I wondered, is she up to? What is this all about?  As she lifted up her infant son, I wondered if she was or is manipulating the emotions of people, women especially, who are outraged because they believe Palin’s family was unfairly attacked?

As she mentioned the mainstream media, was she endearing herself to the non-mainstream media, which some say composes the Conservative base of the Republican party? Was she, or is she, playing to the already frayed nerves of Conservatives who feel like the United States is becoming a socialist country under the presidency of Barack Obama?

Was this all a set up for the 2012 presidential race?

Today I read that Palin said the “mainstream press will never understand.” Give me a break, Governor. Mainstream, offstream, lowstream … whatever … the press is out to make news, to capture the best ratings, at the expense of anyone who has the unfortunate luck to be in the path of the tornado.

Politicians, especially, know that.

I do not know why John McCain picked her as a running mate in the first place. She never seemed ready to be president. Not of MY country. Nice and all of that, but not ready to be president. And the more she talked, and the more I realized that she seemed to play into the all-too-familiar politics of division and derision, playing on fears of people and using much overused Conservative cliches, I just moaned.

More of the same old same old.

Still, I looked on her as a viable choice for Conservatives in 2012. She was able to electrify a crowd. That’s what the Republicans are looking for now: someone to energize their base, and Palin was able to do that. I wasn’t happy thinking of her as a candidate for president, but I certainly saw her as a star whose brightness had not yet peaked.

But after yesterday, I hope she will go away. If you want to play with the big boys, you have to be willing to play the big boys’ game. That includes taking pot-shots and low-blows, in the name of political victory and gain. It’s just what you do.

You either win or lose the race, but if you win … you stay the course and take the jabs and do the work the people elect you to do. You cry in your soup when your term is over.

I would be very nervous if Palin were president. When the world started to deride her and criticize her, would she cut and run? Remember, the world is still very sexist. The double standard is not apt to go away anytime soon.

Palin has showed, at least to me, that she is not tough enough for the big boys’ game.

That is my candid observation.