Saturday, November 12, 2016

For Donald, Actions & Words Trump Apologies

Swastikas were scrawled on my elementary school 
It's only been four days since Donald Trump was elected to be president, but for some disturbed individuals in this country, that was like a green-light to engage in cowardly acts of overt racism, xenophobia and sexism.

The underlying message of Trump's campaign, and by extension the Republican party, is that it's okay to treat people of color, foreigners, immigrants and people of different faiths and ethnicities differently - even with open hostility.

This morning I was absolutely horrified to learn that the elementary school I attended as a child, Burning Tree Elementary in Bethesda, Maryland, was defaced with swastikas on the weekend of October 28th in the weeks leading up to the General Election.

That's where my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Goldblatt taught me to love music, it's where I learned to love reading and books, the place where I played kickball and climbed the monkey bars at recess; the place where I used to gaze out the windows during class and daydream.

Burning Tree isn't the only school affected by the overt displays of racism that have spread across the nation in the days immediately following Trump's election.

Defaced door in Maple Grove High School  
The father of a Maple Grove High School student in Minnesota posted photos on Facebook taken by his son the day after the election that showed a door defaced with slurs like "F*ck N***ers", "F*ck all porch monkeys" and "#whitesonly" scrawled above the words "Trump."

Numerous incidents of hate have been reported on college campuses across the nation as well.

A female freshman who was studying at the library on the campus of the University of New Mexico on the day of the election reported that an unknown white male came up and tried to rip off her hijab and started screaming anti-Muslim epithets at her.

On the campus of Baylor University in Texas on Friday hundreds of students as well as president David Garland gathered to walk black student Natasha Nkhama to class after a group of white students intentionally bumped into her and shoved her off the sidewalk before using the N-word to tell her people of color shouldn't use the sidewalk.

On Friday morning on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania at least one as-yet unnamed student from Oklahoma used the cell phone messaging app GroupMe to target the African-American members of the freshman class with different messages referring to calls for the lynching of black U Penn students; one of the messages contained an old photo of a black man who'd been lynched with the words "I love America."

The Mayor of Philadelphia and the Governor joined U Penn administrative officials in condemning the hate messages, but there's one soon-to-be politician whose remained silent about these vile incidents.

That's Donald Trump himself.

100,000 were estimated to march in LA
After spending years inflaming conservatives with his support of loony racist Birther theories and messages of intolerance against Muslims, Mexicans and women, Trump had the gall to take to his Twitter account to call the hundreds of thousands of protestors who've been marching in cities around the nation since last Tuesday "very unfair."

Today in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City and Portland gathered in the hundred of thousands to demonstrate their opposition to Trump's election and voice their fears over the radical right-wing political agenda the majority Republican House and Senate are preparing to unleash on Americans.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has already openly discussed plans to privatize Medicare and push the millions of people who depend on it for health care into private insurance.

A plan that will enrich the coffers of private health care and insurance companies (and the executives who run them) with billions in taxpayer dollars.

On Friday journalist and author Chris Hedges wrote "It's Worse Than You Think", a troubling article for outlining the unprecedented danger to Democracy that the Trump presidency and Republican control of both houses of Congress represents.

The nation led by a man who thinks climate change is a hoax and who has direct personal investments in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

A man with no political or public policy experience who could threaten the progress made by prison reform advocates because of his financial ties to the prison industrial complex and his contempt for advocates who've called for police accountability for the rampant killing of unarmed people of color by police.

Hedges rightfully warns that Trump supporters are in for a rude awakening when they discover that the career conman they elected doesn't give a shit about them - wait until those enraged white voters in rust belt towns who've watched their manufacturing, steel and coal industry jobs vanish find out that Trump's tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the top 1%; in other words, himself.

There's an awful lot of things I'd like to say to Donald Trump right about now, some of which I'll refrain from sharing publicly in the name of decency.

But I think a quote from a 1963 episode of The Andy Griffith Show effectively sums up what I think of Trump's disingenuous post-election calls for Americans to unite in the wake of the rampant division he sowed:

Sheriff Taylor, played by Andy Griffith,
dispenses wisdom to Opie, played by Ron Howard
"Being sorry is not the magic word that makes everything right again."

Those words of wisdom were spoken by Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by actor Andy Griffith, to his fictional television son Opie, played by actor/ director Ron Howard, on an episode of the classic series centered on a widowed father trying to raise his only son in a small southern town.

To me those words offer a counter to Trump's efforts to appear as some kind of magnanimous unifying figure after the division and polarization he's sewn.

As long-time television critic and Rowan University professor of television and film history David Bianculli shared on Thursday's episode of Fresh Air with host Terry Gross, in a moving scene Griffith's character must confront his son over having accidentally killed a bird with a slingshot.

A guilt-ridden Opie apologizes, but Andy reminds his only son that being sorry isn't enough to undue the repercussions of actions that have already been taken, or words that have been said.

Like many others, I'm not ready to simply shrug off the past and line up behind Donald Trump in his new guise as the benevolent leader whose suddenly discovered a desire for peace and unity.

Over the past two years this man has ripped open a chasm in the cultural fabric of this nation, allowing hatred, bigotry and anger to spill out like some kind of toxic foul-smelling sludge.

He did that just to satisfy his egomaniacal lust for power, attention and financial profit, not for the good of the country; if he cared about the country he would have run for public office years ago.

The fear and anger he dredged up that caused some low life scum bag to paint a swastika on the elementary school I attended doesn't just vanish into thin air because Trump has gotten what he wants and is now ready to assume the mantle of leadership for a position for which he's utterly unqualified and hasn't earned.

Until Trump comes out and takes a definitive stance against these acts of racial, ethnic and religious hatred, and commits to use his office to stop them, his words about desiring unity are like the many promises he's made and broken over the years; meaningless.

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