Category Archives: Politics

Wear Your Damn Mask! 😷

Why can’t people just do what they are asked to do? Americans especially always try to buck the system. If they are asked to do something, they just ignore it if it inconveniences them. A lot of Americans have a problem with authority and don’t get me started with that. I saw it every day when I was teaching, and those are the people who are growing up and refusing to follow directions. Their parents never made them, because quite honestly, the parents didn’t want to follow the rules either. Too many people think they are the exception to the rule. Of course, it doesn’t help that we don’t have a president who will set the example. Instead of doing what he should do, the president makes the wearing of masks a political issue. He idiotically believes that those who wear masks are doing it in protest of him. We wear masks because we want to save our lives and the lives of other people. Fuck! It makes me so mad.

The U.S. is “not in total control” of the coronavirus pandemic and daily new cases could surpass 100,000 new infections per day if the outbreak continues on its current trend, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. Fauci told senators in a hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that “I can’t make an accurate prediction but it’s going to be very disturbing,” The number of new cases reported each day in the U.S. is now outpacing that of April, when the virus rocked Washington state and parts of the Northeast, especially the New York City area.

Why can’t Americans (and you know which ones I’m talking about) quit being selfish and wear a fucking mask? 

News Flash: It’s not going to kill you to wear one, but it might kill you or someone you love not to wear one. Get with the fucking program!

P.S. I apologize for the strong language in this post, but I am just so angry about the issue of people not wearing masks.


Thank You

I want to thank everyone for their wonderful words of advice and encouragement on yesterday’s post. I’m still feeling a bit down and anxious over the argument with my mother. I can’t help it. Family can be so frustrating. I have lived with my agreement with my mother that I made when I came out, which was that I would not tell anyone else in the family I am gay. (I have not lived by the agreement that I would be celibate, that was just taking it too far.) While only my parents know for certain, I am pretty sure my aunt knows. I have a large collection of books that are stored in bookcases at her house. Many of those books are gay fiction or gay history that I had collected over the years. After I moved to Vermont, she took down all my books and built new sturdier bookcases. She then placed all of my books back in the new bookcases. If she didn’t notice a theme, then…. Anyway, I’m pretty sure she knows and doesn’t care. My aunt worked for a dentist that she admired and cared for a lot; he was gay and died of AIDS back in the 1980s. She has always seemed pretty accepting of things like that.

My biggest fear is not what my parents would do, but I do fear telling my sister because since she married a complete asshole in 1998, her in-laws have brought her over to the dark side. My sister used to be laissez-faire about most social issues. She just didn’t care, and she was never political at all. However, her husband and in-laws are extremely conservative, homophobic fundamentalists. She becomes more and more like them every year, so I fear if she ever knew I was gay, she would not let me see my niece and nephew. She and they are of that mentality that gay people cannot be trusted with children.

My only hope is that the world is different enough for my niece and nephew not to have the same prejudices as their family. They are growing up in a far more accepting world than I grew up in. They are growing up in a time when LGBT couples can get married, and we can’t be discriminated against in our jobs. Things are so vastly different than they were 20 years ago. (I know, there is still much to do, but we are getting there.) I hope they will have a mind for themselves about social and political issues. They aren’t old enough yet to really understand. All they know right now is that they love their Uncle Joe. I get to see the joy and excitement in their eyes when they see me, and I hear it in their voices when I talk to them on the phone.

All of my other close relatives have passed away. In fact, yesterday would have been my grandmama’s 97th birthday. I miss her so much. I think if I’d had the courage to come out to her, she would have accepted me for who I am. I may be wrong about that, but she would always listen to reason from me, even when she was unreasonable to everyone else. I had a connection with Grandmama unlike anyone else. If she had accepted me, as I believe she would have, she would also have been my advocate and told my parents they could go straight to hell if they didn’t fall in line. That may just be wishful thinking and a fantasy on my part. I will never know what her reaction would have been, but I have faith she would have accepted me.

I will make up with my mother at some point. She will probably have to be the one to call me, and if she does, she is likely to act as if we never argued. Denial is not just a river in Egypt to my mother, it’s a way of life. She has been in denial about my sexuality since she found out I’m gay. I always hoped that one day she would accept me, but she seems to have doubled down and is more homophobic than ever. It goes along with her faith which seems to no longer be the Bible but Fox News. 

I have a fervent desire for something to happen that would discredit Trump and Fox News so badly that they would lose all of their support. They do more harm to American than anyone else. I hope that when/if that ever happens that people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and all the other Republican idiots go down hard with them. You can also throw in the Rush Limbaughs, Franklin Grahams, and their ilk with it. The hatred in America needs to end, and November is the best time for that to begin to happen.

We need to have a great movement that will change the minds of Americans. We need something that will move America away from the right and teach the American people about love and acceptance. I just hope it isn’t a great tragedy. It will probably take the Rapture* coming and no Republicans rising into Heaven, but then they would say it was a liberal conspiracy.

*By the way, I do not actually believe in the Rapture (an event in which it is believed that both living and dead Christian believers will ascend into heaven to meet Jesus Christ at the Second Coming). It is nothing more than a postmillennialism belief/hoax dreamed up by the 19th-century theologian John Nelson Darby. I use it here in jest. The lawyer I used to work for always joked “I hope I’m standing outside when the Rapture happens. I don’t want to hit my head on the ceiling.”

joebiden.com

For Your Boy

“For Your Boy” by Arthur William Brown

For the past month, I’ve been taking an online professional development course designed to teach museum educators, like myself, how to develop and write formal lesson plans for K-12 teachers. It’s been a pretty interesting class; our end project is to write a lesson plan for our museum. I chose to write about our vast collection of World War I propaganda posters. Most lesson plans are no more than 5-10 pages; mine currently is 36, and I still need to add in the curriculum standards for Vermont. While I did get a bit carried away, my teacher said the lesson plan did not contain anything that wasn’t needed. In fact, what takes up the most pages are the posters themselves as well as background information on the artists and posters. I also compiled a list of early propaganda techniques. Tweets and accusations of “fake news” may be everyday politics for Trump, but in April 1917, the U.S. government had to create an entire committee to influence media and shape popular opinion; and for the most part, they used propaganda for the good of the country.

When I look at the various propaganda techniques, I see correlations to the tactics of the current administration. The only difference is propaganda is usually based on at least some shred of evidence or a grain of truth. What that man in the White House says and disseminates has no grain of truth; it’s just lies. He doesn’t even attempt half-truths, and when he does tell the “truth” such as in his Tulsa speech when he said he ordered a slowdown in COVID-19 testing because it was revealing too many positive cases, the truth is worse than fiction.

For this assignment, I’ve been doing a lot of research on types of propaganda, and it’s easier to come up with ways Trump uses it than ways it was used in WWI. To give you some examples: Name Calling (Sleepy Joe), Transfer (I’m a very stable genius), Plain Folks (calling Neo- Nazi’s “very fine people”), Weak Inference (referring to Putin’s claim of not interfering in the 2016 election, “I believe he believes it”), Stereotyping (Kung-Flu), Guilt-by-Association (Liberal Media=Fake News), Bandwagon (“I’m a winner. I beat people. I’m ahead in the polls and there’s no end in sight.”), Faulty Analogy (“All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here—a lynching. But we will WIN!”), Glittering Generalities (Make America Great Again), Virtue-by-Association (Trump’s claiming he’s a Christian), Patriotic Symbols (How he abhors protestors who kneel for the National Anthem), Testimonials (Trump’s new slogan “Transition to Greatness”), Distortion of Data (Do I even have to give examples of his more than 19,000 lies?), Emotional Appeal (the way he demonizes immigrants, protestors, Democrats, etc.). The list goes on and on and on ad nauseam.

It’s difficult to understand why people blindly follow Trump. It can’t be only about being pro-life. Which brings me to the main point of my post: I’ve been a bit down since Sunday night. I got into an argument with my mother about her support of Trump. She made me so upset, I ended the call by telling her, “Bye,” and hanging up the phone. I just could not take any more of her parroting Fox News drivel. I told her she had disappointed me by supporting a bully like a Trump, that I’d dealt with bullies all my life—which she knows—and I didn’t want one in the White House. I don’t want an amoral person as president who goes against everything I was raised to believe in. I was literally shaking when I got off the phone. What upsets me the most: she didn’t seem to care that I was upset.

I read an article in The Washington Post the other day that talked about how many public health officials were being harassed and threatened. People were publishing their emails, home addresses, and phone numbers so others could harass them from around the country. I thought of my mother who spent 25 years as a nurse at the county health department. If she were still working, she’d be one of the people enforcing rules to mitigate the spread of the virus. I wonder if my family—my mother specifically—could have faced the hatred and retribution of Trump supporters who care more about money and their “freedom” than they care about the safety of others. I wonder if she were still at the health department would she have felt differently about an administration that has downplayed the deadliness of this disease and politicized a public health crisis for their own political gain. 

Mama was always a particularly good and caring nurse; I don’t understand what has happened to her. She wasn’t like this when I was growing up or at least, I never saw it so blatantly. I can’t help but take some of the blame for her change of heart. Since she found out I am gay, she has become more of a fundamental evangelical Christian and a diehard Republican who sees no good in anyone who doesn’t think like Fox News tells them to think. She has closed her mind to so much of the world, and I wonder if this is all because she has a gay son. She has never been able to accept my sexuality. As she becomes more and more in line with conservative Republican ideology, the less I want to talk to her. I am getting to the point where I no longer care what she thinks of me. I have held off finding someone to spend my life with because I knew she’d never accept him. Now, I fear I’ve wasted my life hoping for my mother’s love and acceptance when that hope can never be fully realized.

I do love my mother, and in some strange, twisted, and warp-minded way, I know she holds some love for me. But I don’t know if I can continue to live my life this way. I live 1,100 miles away from my parents. Perhaps it is time to become who I really am, and to quit holding back because of the fear of what my parents and family might think of me.


Silly (Horrible) Little Men

The Monuments Men

I’ve been listening to the book, The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel whenever I drive anywhere. On Thursday, I will be teaching a class on the history of the Monuments Men, and I wanted to know as much as possible about the subject. I hope it goes well as it will be the first class I’ve taught as a webinar. If you don’t know who the Monuments Men were, they were part of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied armies established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war zones during and after World War II. The group of approximately 400 service members and civilians worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage, and as the conflict came to a close, to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance stolen by the Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.

Göring

One of the things that really struck me in this book is the description of the greed and opulence of the Nazis and their collaborators. Edsel points out that Hermann Göring, though being the main “collector” of art and items of cultural importance, was mediocre at best in his taste. He just wasn’t well-educated enough in art to know good art from bad art. Furthermore, it was more about the prestige of owning things that drove Göring not any artistic value. Göring, like many fascists, was garish: he owned dozens of uniforms each more grand than the last; he kept a pocket full of rubies at all times so he could jingle them like change; he had homes decorated with the most expensive things he could find most of which he confiscated illegally; and the list goes on. Göring was almost cartoonish in his appearance. It doesn’t seem real that someone could have such poor taste and at the same time feel his possessions and clothing were the height of taste. The same thing is also often said of the nouveau riche which has become a derogatory term for people who have recently acquired wealth, typically those perceived as ostentatious or lacking in good taste. The nouveau riche and the opulence of the fascists seem somewhat ridiculous to us these days, and they would be thought of as just that—ridiculous and cartoonish—if it had not been for the horrendous things they did with their power.

Benito Mussolini

The ridiculousness of the fascists goes beyond just their ostentatious possessions. There are their actions in public. Think of Benito Mussolini in full military regalia with his chest puffed out, arms crossed, and his chin up. Hitler studied oratory delivery, hand gestures, and body language to make his speeches more hypnotic and mesmerizing. Both overemphasized their gestures. Hitler took lessons with the hypnotic clairvoyant and magician, Erik Jan Hanussen, and learned speaking and mass psychology from him. Looking back at the 1920s and 1930s, history shows us the rise—and fall—of charismatic leaders and/or demagogues: Mussolini, Hitler, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Ataturk, and Mao Tse-tung. Even good guys like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Huey Long used their personal charisma to get where they wanted to be. The exception to these charismatic leaders was Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Franco was one of the few dictators in modern times who was a professional soldier who fought for power to the very top. Hitler, Mussolini and Antonio Salazar (of Portugal) had to win over or neutralize the national armed forces to come out on top. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh were primarily civilians who politicized the military for their own strategic ends. These other men bent their followers to their own will; Franco became everything to everyone.

Looking at the dictators from the 20th century, I wonder if the historians in the 22nd century will look upon Donald Trump and think he was just a silly, horrible man with power. Will they see him as charismatic? Inhumane? Dangerous? Will they mock him for his garish and ostentatious lifestyle? Will they recognize his diminished intelligence? His disdain for intelligence? His lack of action on important issues? His disastrous actions to harm others (immigrants, LGBTQ+, women’s rights, the most vulnerable in American society, etc.)? I read an article by a historian the other day who said he believed Trump was not one of the worst presidents, but the worst president—even worse than James Buchanan whose actions, or lack thereof, led to the Civil War. Will Trump’s successors be able to undo his harm? If they do, will it make historians look at Trump differently? A friend of mine commented on Saturday that when the ludicrous things a politician—referring to Trump— says and does become common place, people forget it’s not normal; they begin to normalize that behavior.

Saturday, June 20th, was Trump’s first rally since the start of the worst of the pandemic when quarantines, social distancing, and the wearing of masks were implemented. Trump chose Tulsa where a race massacre took place on May 31st, and June 1st, 1921. During the riots, mobs of white residents attacked the black residents and businesses of Tulsa’s Greenwood District. One must wonder what Trump and his campaign were thinking when they chose a rally there amid widespread protests against racial discrimination and police brutality. (And remember, the rally was originally scheduled for June 19th, or Juneteenth.) I’m pretty sure I know why, and I think it was calculated, but I will leave that for you to decide. 

Like Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, and Mao, Trump thrives on the adoration of crowds. His followers are so fanatical, they are convinced they will be saved by God from the virus; that by supporting Trump, they are doing God’s work; and if Trump didn’t see the need to wear a mask, they don’t either. It may take days or weeks before we know the full extent of the outbreak that is likely to occur because of Trump’s rally. The questions are: How will Trump explain the outbreak caused by his rally? Will he just ignore any ill effects from the rally? Will his supporters ever come to the realization they put their life and the lives of loved ones in harm’s way in order to see a megalomaniac speak? The answers to all of these questions are probably predictable.

My greatest fear is that when Trump loses the election, he won’t accept it and won’t leave the White House. He’s already setting up the scene to call the election fraudulent with his cries against mail-in votes, etc. He will use every tactic he has to resist the inevitable. But one question remains, will he burn the country down in the process like a modern-day Nero burning Rome to keep himself in power? I’m afraid he will. Trump and the Republicans have done more to harm the sacred institutions of the American government than anyone else in American history. Just as he uses the charismatic tactics of fascists to advocate his position and power, he will try to use tactics of dictators to stay in office. All of this could end badly for Trump: Hitler shot himself; Mussolini was captured and publicly hanged; Göring took a cyanide capsule; Trotsky was assassinated. How will it end for Trump?

Democrats.org

Past Tense

Sisko and Bashir in the Sanctuary District

“Star Trek” is a sci-fi universe with a positive outlook on Earth’s future. The United Federation of Planets uses its Starfleet armada of spaceships for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. Many of the storylines are allegories of contemporary culture. I will repeat what I said yesterday: from the very beginning, Star Trek has held a firm belief represented by the symbol representing IDIC: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I agree with the idea that Star Trek can teach us so much about what humanity can become. However, Star Trek often had to deal with the problems of the past to create this future Star Trek universe. As was well-established in the Star Trek universe originally envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, society had to go through Hell before reaching a state of utopia, and the episode “Past Tense” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is part of an examination of that Hell.

“Past Tense” shows what the United States was like in the 2020s through the lens of the 1990s. The year is 2024. Sisko, Bashir, and Dax find themselves trapped 300 years in the past confronting one of the darkest hours in Earth’s history. The time period is best explained by Sisko who teaches Bashir about 21st century history and the Sanctuary Districts:

Sisko: By the early 2020s, there was a place like this in every major city in the United States.

Bashir: Why are these people in here? Are they criminals?

Sisko: No, people with criminal records weren’t allowed in the Sanctuary Districts.

Bashir: Then what did they do to deserve this?

Sisko: Nothing. They’re just people without jobs or places to live.

Bashir: So, they get put in here?

Sisko: Welcome to the 21st century, Doctor.

Bashir comments to Sisko, “21st century history isn’t one of my strong points. Too depressing.” Bashir would definitely be horrified at the way the United States government and other governments around the world have dealt with COVID-19. But back to the episode, the conditions of the Sanctuary Districts lead to an event known in the Star Trek universe as the Bell Riots. As Sisko explains to Bashir, “The Sanctuary residents will take over the District. Some of the guards will be taken hostage. The government will send in troops to restore order. Hundreds of Sanctuary residents will be killed.” The dialog between Sisko and Bashir continues:

Sisko: I sympathize, Doctor, but if it will make you feel any better, the Riots will be one of the watershed events of the 21st century. Gabriel Bell will see to that.

Bashir: Bell?

Sisko: The man they named the Riots after. He is one of the Sanctuary residents who will be guarding the hostages. The government troops will storm this place based on rumors that the hostages have been killed. It turns out that the hostages were never harmed, because of Gabriel Bell. In the end, Bell sacrifices his own life to save them. He’ll become a national hero. Outrage over his death, and the death of other residents, will change public opinion about the Sanctuaries. They’ll be torn down and the United States will finally begin correcting the social problems it has struggled with for over a hundred years.

The riots over the death of George Floyd and others killed by police may be the start of a change in American history like the Bell Riots were in 2024. We can only hope. In 1995, when this episode aired, who would have predicted that only a few years before the fictional Bell Riots, the United States would see nationwide protests on racial injustice?

Ira Steven Behr, executive producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and one of the story creators for “Past Tense,” was inspired to come up with the idea for the Sanctuary Districts through his real-life experience in the early 1990s. In an interview for a Season 3 DVD special feature about “Past Tense,” Behr said:

I was down in Santa Monica one day, and there [were] all these homeless people there, and it was a beautiful day, the ocean, sky, sun, and homeless people everywhere. And all these tourists, and people up and about, and they were walking past these homeless people as if they were part of the scenery. It was like some artist had done some interesting rendition of juxtaposition between nature and urban decay right there in front of me. And the fact was that nobody seemed to care, at all. And I said, ‘There has to be something about that, where does that go? How far do you take that?’ And that evolved into the idea for concentration camps essentially for the homeless.

Dax and the Wealthy Businessman

Behr also stated there is a subtle examination of racism in this episode. When Dax is discovered, she is treated like royalty and taken in by a wealthy San Francisco businessman, but when Sisko and Bashir are found, they are treated like criminals. Of this situation, Behr said, “The simple fact is, a beautiful white woman is always going to get much better treatment than two brown-skinned men.” We see the contrast between the life of the wealthy San Franciscans Dax meets, and the discarded people of the Sanctuary Districts whom Sisko and Bashir encounter.

At the end of the second part of “Past Tense,” Bashir asks Sisko, “You know, Commander, having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don’t understand: how could they have let things get so bad?” Sisko replies, “That’s a good question. I wish I had an answer.” And, it is a good question. We may not have Sanctuary Districts, but we still have massive inequality. There are serious problems in the United States which our current president has made worse. Trump has highlighted inequalities and injustices in the U.S., at least for some of us. Alternatively, Trump supporters relish the inequalities, because for them, it means someone is less fortunate than they are. It’s the same reason that poor white men who owned no slaves fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. As long as there were slaves, they weren’t the lowest social class. It was a similar situation in the Civil Rights Movement. Poor whites favored discrimination and segregation because it put them above black people. The same is true today with Trump’s followers—many of whom would rather suffer from the damage done by Trump to the nation’s economy, healthcare status, and many other issues rather than to allow equality in America.

When the episode aired, it received some criticism for being too preachy, liberal, and “soapbox like” something which disappointed Behr, who felt the show had important things to say, and treated a serious situation in a realistic manner; “We’re not going to solve anything with two hours of TV. The homeless are still there. The problem hasn’t gone away. But maybe just one person saw this and started to see the problem in a different way.” The real 2020s may not have Sanctuary Districts, but there are segregated sections to every city; whether they segregate the rich from the poor or blacks from whites or whatever the dividing line is, we still live in a society segregated by race, income status, and a host of other perceived differences. We continue to have homeless and displaced persons. We need to do better.

I will say this though, through most of the Star Trek universe, LGBTQ+ issues were rarely, and never directly, dealt with. Yes, Commander Riker of The Next Generation did fall in love with a nonbinary individual, and Jadzia Dax did have a same-sex kiss, and there were a few other instances, but none dealt with LGBTQ+ individuals. When Voyager and Enterprise premiered, rumors circulated there would be an LGBTQ+ individual on the crew of those ships; it never materialized. It wasn’t until Discovery that we see fully-fledged LGBTQ+ individuals in the marriage of Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber, plus the character of Jett Reno. I also recognize in Star Trek Beyond Sulu is seen, ever so briefly, in a same-sex relationship which was done as a homage to George Takei, the original Sulu. The Star Trek universe is becoming more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s been a long time coming.


One of the GOP’s Most Idiotic Claims

The Washington Post has been keeping track of the number of lies that Donald Trump has told in public. When I checked the site yesterday, it had last been updated on May 29, 2020, at that time, Trump had been in office for 1,226 (long and disastrous) days in office. In that time, Trump has made 19,128 false or misleading claims. During his time in office, Trump and his administration has been the most viciously anti-LGBTQ administration in the nation’s history. Now, the Republican Party has published a claim so preposterous you’d think it was published in The Onion. President Donald Trump, they say, has “taken unprecedented steps to protect the LGBTQ community.” This from a man that picked Mike Pence, one of America’s most homophobic politicians, as his Vice President. On the same day the Republican Party made this announcement, they also announced it would recycle its cruel 2016 platform that specifically targeted the LGBTQ community for condemnation. As such, the Republican platform will continue to oppose same-sex marriage and the expansion of civil rights for sexual orientation and gender identity while supporting President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, conversion therapy, and businesses discriminating against same-sex couples.

In the statement released by the GOP, the party only lists times the president “kept his promise to protect the LGBTQ citizens,” conveniently leaving out the hundreds of times the administration has actively worked to undermine the community. Many of the accomplishments were simply continuations of protocols set by previous administrations and were either broken promises or extremely misleading. One of the statement’s assertions touts that since elected, President Trump has selected five openly gay persons for a position as U.S. Ambassador: Robert Gilchrist, Richard Grenell, Randy Berry, Eric Nelson, and Jeff Daigle. The document also points out that in 2019, President Trump’s first LGBTQ judicial nominee, Mary Rowland was confirmed to the District Court of Northern District of Illinois.

In a letter to the U.S. Military Academy’s graduating class, a coalition of several hundred West Point alumni slammed the Trump administration’s politicization of the military amid nationwide protests. “Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events,” the alumni wrote. “The oath taken by those who choose to serve in America’s military is aspirational. We pledge service to no monarch; no government; no political party; no tyrant,” the group continued, adding that they were “concerned that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country.” I bring this up because like those West Point alumni in the Trump administration who have betrayed their oath, Robert Gilchrist, Richard Grenell, Randy Berry, Eric Nelson, and Jeff Daigle have betrayed their own LGBTQ community. 

There is no excuse for someone working against their own best interest for fame, power, or whatever reason they try to justify their traitorous actions. To quote Michelangelo Signorile, “When you will sell out your own kind, there’s really no telling how low you will go.” Maybe the lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women (as far as I know, there are no transgender people in the administration) who work in the Trump administration don’t see themselves as traitors, yet they work for an administration that has systematically done everything it can to destroy LGBTQ equality since being sworn into office. The lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who work for an administration which is actively trying to destroy the LGBTQ community may claim that they are trying to work within the system to change it are deceiving themselves and anyone who listens to them. Instead they need to be advocating strongly for LGBTQ rights and not collaborating with people working against that cause. They need to actively be working to get this administration our of office. When Joe Biden becomes president, this country will once again stand as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ people in America and around the world.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have done everything in their power to endanger the rights and lives of LGBTQ people: banning transgender service members from being able to serve their country, proposing policies to strip LGBTQ health care protections, allowing homeless shelters to turn away transgender people, and encouraging adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ families, and the list seems to never end. The list the GOP released includes laughably tiny gestures like allowing a gay man to speak at the 2016 convention and lists various appointments he made that were filled by LGBTQ community members, like the ones I mentioned above. For many in the LGBTQ community, they risked everything to come out and be who they really are. Most survived, others did not, and many others lost their family and friends. We have fought too hard to let our government take away our rights.

A large part of the list revolves around former ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. The out Trump acolyte was tapped to serve as Acting Director of National Intelligence, making him the first gay person to hold a cabinet-level position. Grenell’s tenure in both positions was rocked with repeated scandals and German officials reportedly “shunned” the controversial diplomat for his association with the far right, his interference in German domestic politics, and a perceived lack of professionalism, describing him as “narcissistic.” As the ambassador, Grenell announced a new federal initiative to decriminalize homosexuality around the world and said it demonstrated Trump’s commitment to civil rights and the LGBTQ community. Asked about it by reporters, Trump admitted he didn’t know anything about it. In total, Trump has nominated five gay men to ambassadorial positions, yet the administration refused to allow embassies to fly rainbow flags during Pride month. 

Why am I saying all of this? It’s because lesbian, gay, and bisexual kids are three times more likely than straight kids to attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Medically serious attempts at suicide are four times more likely among LGBTQ youth than other young people. African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual attempt suicide at especially high rates. One study found that 41 percent of transgender adults said they had attempted suicide. The same study found that 61 percent of transgender people who were victims of physical assault had attempted suicide. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them are over eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them. Each time an LGBTQ person is a victim of physical or verbal harassment or abuse, they become two and a half times more likely to hurt themselves. This administration is furthering this with their policies of LGBTQ discrimination.

If we had a more accepting society in America, we could fight these statistics. So, I partially hold those LGBTQ people who work for the Trump administration responsible because they are helping make it harder for the LGBTQ community. I had a very good friend who was gay. Even though his family was not religious, they were conservative. When he came out to them, his brother nearly beat him to death while his parents watched and did nothing. His family never spoke to him again. Shortly after that, he tried to commit suicide. Thank goodness, he failed in his attempt. A friend found him in time, and he was taken to a hospital. Sadly, he died too young in a car accident several years later. This is hard for me to write, but because gay people were so demonized when I was growing up, I didn’t think it was possible for me to be gay. I was bullied relentlessly in school for being a sissy, appearing to be gay, or because my voice was not deep enough. The bullying and the inability to deal with my own sexuality led me to try and take my own life. I thank God every day that I was unsuccessful. I believe now that God had and has a plan for me. However, my parents still don’t accept me being gay, and I don’t expect they ever will. I suspect that a large number of my LGBTQ readers have faced similar issues: you either have attempted suicide, you know an LGBTQ who has attempted suicide, or you know an LGBTQ person who did commit suicide.

All of these are reasons why LGBTQ people should not work within an administration like Trump’s because by doing so, they are showing acceptance of his policies. We have to fight as hard as we can against LBGTQ discrimination. We need the United States to show the world that we care about our LGBTQ community. We can do that by electing Joe Biden. He has already been shown to be an LGBTQ ally, and his campaign recently announced a new voter outreach effort, Out For Biden, aimed at the LGBTQ community. Biden believes that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and be able to live without fear no matter who they are or who they love. During the Obama-Biden Administration, the United States made historic strides toward LGBTQ equality: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Biden’s historic declaration in support of marriage equality on Meet the Press in 2012, and the unprecedented advancement of protections for LGBTQ Americans at the federal level. While there are 11 million LGBTQ Americans eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election, over 2 million aren’t registered to vote. According to the Williams Institute, 50 percent of registered LGBTQ voters are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans, 22 percent are Independents, and 13 percent said they identify with another party or did not know with which party they most identify. LGBTQ voters are racially diverse, 47 percent are under age 35, and one-third have at least a college education. As LGBTQ people, we are central to the fabric of this country. We must elect a government that will focus their voices and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ people everywhere.

The bottom line is that if you support Trump you cannot seriously claim to support the LGBTQ community. As I said the other day “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker.” The same goes true concerning the LGBTQ community: not all Trump supporters are homophobic, but all of them decided that homophobia isn’t a deal breaker. This was clearly and bluntly (with a few expletives) illustrated by a gay Texas man named Andrew Joseph Duffer, who recently posted a YouTube video titled: “Five Minutes of Hot Tea.” The video may be hilarious, but Duffer’s description of Trump supporters in his small Texas hometown should raise concerns. I can relate to this video concerning my friends and family back in Alabama. As Duffer points out, “it’s not a difference of opinion, it’s a difference of morality.” If you haven’t seen this video, it’s worth watching. He uses some language I don’t use among polite society, but few of my friends are polite, so I won’t say its language I don’t use. Watch it if you want. Some will like it, some won’t:

I know there is a lot packed into this post, and I got a little carried away. I had a lot I wanted to say. If you read it all, thank you.


The Symbol of 2020: The Mask

The mask is the COVID-19 pandemic’s defining symbol, and probably will be the defining symbol of 2020. In America, the medical mask used to be confined to operating rooms and hospital dramas. It is a public health device but also has revealed itself as a mask in several different perceptions. It has become a political symbol: an object signifying a person’s politics and their relationship to truth itself. A bare face is what registers as a choice. 

To its supporters, mask-wearing is a visual expression of civic duty, an affirmation of scientific authority, and a show of respect. To its critics, it is a sign of weakness, emasculation, and deceit. Many Americans accept the medical benefits of masks, and for those who do not, their rhetoric corresponds with racist ideas about Asian cultures where wearing a mask in public has long been normalized. 

Among the maskless ranks is R.R. Reno, the editor of the conservative religious journal, First Things, who tweeted, “Masks = enforced cowardice,” and Donald Trump, who said, “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself.” Brett Hume tweeted a picture of Biden wearing a mask on Memorial Day saying, “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public. Biden today.” It was a childish thing to say. “This macho stuff,” Biden said after Trump retweeted a jab at the candidate’s own mask. “It’s cost people’s lives.” For people who refuse to wear masks, the implication is that people who choose to wear masks are not just protecting themselves — they are attacking the president and his supporters. 

Ironically, in 1918, when the Spanish flu pandemic coincided with World War I, many Americans wore masks as a symbol of their patriotism, and their effort to curb the spread of the disease to protect soldiers who were about to enter the battlefield. San Francisco, along with other Western cities such as Seattle, Juneau, and Phoenix, passed laws requiring masks in public. Violators could be ticketed, fined, and imprisoned. Even so, protests against wearing masks were plentiful in 1918. San Francisco saw the creation of the anti-mask league, as well as protests and civil disobedience. People refused to wear masks in public or flaunted wearing them improperly. Some went to prison for not wearing them or refusing to pay fines. Within weeks, however, as the number of cases and deaths decreased, recommendations and even regulations to wear masks were relaxed and then eliminated. Because of this, cases spiked again around Thanksgiving, and another surge occurred into the New Year. These second and third waves were the deadliest. However, in many places, there was no appetite to enact another set of mandates. Removing those orders, and then trying to re-implement them a second time, proved to be exceedingly difficult. By then, the patriotic fervor that influenced compliance had waned.

Historians and scientists at the University of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied the efforts of trying to contain the Spanish Flu of 1918. Comparative analysis of data from several American cities during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic provide incontrovertible evidence of the effectiveness of the kind of restrictions we are living with today. Cities that imposed expansive closure orders early and maintained them for the duration of pandemic conditions suffered significantly lower death rates than those cities that did not. While protestors in 1918 fought against the hated mask, their act of gathering, which was entirely legal at the time, was helping to spread the disease.

Wearing masks is a collective declaration of a serious disease recognizing that behavior of an entire population must change. In this sense, the seeming omnipresence of masks in historical photographs from 1918 reinforces the message that preventing transmission is a community effort requiring substantial behavioral change. Wearing masks means accepting that community welfare supersedes individual preferences. It should not be a political issue. Instead, wearing a mask should follow the maxim that is found in many religions and cultures often known as the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. 

One of the sanest voices in the government’s response to the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has called for a cautious approach to reopening the US and implored Americans to wear face masks in public. Fauci said, “I want to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing.” He went on to say that while wearing a mask is not “100% effective,” it is a valuable safeguard and shows “respect for another person.” His comments are at odds with Trump’s push to have America quickly return to normalcy.

Trump seems unwilling to fight the coronavirus rationally instead claiming it will disappear “like a miracle.” It’s as if taking the disease seriously is an indictment of his presidency. By dismissing the threat and banishing its visual cues, Trump also shields his own reputation and protects his personal vanity. While everyone who refuses to wear a mask might not be pro-Trump, they all have two things in common: selfishness and ignorance.  These two traits seem to be glorified by part of the American public, and that is just not acceptable.


Are Republicans Nasty People?

It’s never good to characterize entire groups of people on the basis of prejudice. When we make sweeping generalizations, they are generally based on foundations of racism, sexism, antisemitism, and every form of discriminatory ideology. Offensive stereotypes appear often in crudely written op-eds where selected evidence about individuals is applied to whole categories of people. As LGBTQI+ individuals and allies and many other minorities or oppressed groups, we have all faced generalizations and prejudices. I try never to generalize, and I always try to see people as individuals not as part of a group. However, I’m guessing that like me many of you were raised with generalizations about groups of people. I was surrounded mostly by Republicans when I was growing up, and as minority groups gain increasingly more equal rights (though many of us still have a long way to go to be fully equal), I have seen Republicans begin to generalize more and more and in increasingly nasty ways. While I have worked hard to avoid the easy tendency to overgeneralize, not everyone has. This question persists in my mind: are today’s Republicans nasty? Have they increasingly gotten worse? Have they become the inheritors of prejudice and hate from the Southern Democrats of the 1950s-1970s?

Certainly, there are nasty Republicans, as there are nasty people of every political persuasion. Perhaps nasty Republicans just make for easy pickings. A prime example of this is the collective televised behavior of Republican Senators and Representatives during the impeachment hearings where argument and nastiness were blended into a toxic attitude designed to distract attention from what Trump had done. They seemed so afraid of Trump turning against them, that they berated Democrats and any accusers of Trump’s wrongdoings. The behavior of Republicans during the impeachment was one of the most shameful circus acts in American politics.

What provokes my bigger question is the possibility that nastiness has become the essence of Republicanism. This process did not begin with Trump. It’s been brewing for decades. Rush Limbaugh has personified the meanness of conservatism since 1988 calling feminists whores and Nazis, stereotyping gays, and repeating racist comments. His success spawned an industry of right-wing talk radio hosts copying his nastiness, and sometimes being rewarded with political office. Now, there is at least one television network dedicated to this type of behavior: Fox News. It doesn’t seem to matter what lies or half-truths they relate to their audience as long as it appeases their base.

Alex Jones began as a talk radio personality creating Info Wars in 1999. His utter disregard for people in the deepest grief has landed him in court, sued by the families of young victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. But before that, Jones’ willful nastiness earned him Trump White House press credentials. When Trump gave Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union address in February, he placed public nastiness in front of his Party for their instruction.

Trump has changed the rules of public political behavior. When he was still a candidate vying for the Republican nomination, and viciously attacking Hillary Clinton in ways unprecedented for a presidential campaign, Limbaugh said, “Trump can say this stuff as an outsider. He can say this stuff as a nonmember of the elite or the establishment.” That distinction is now gone. The Republican establishment, headed by Trump, says things like that every day. Previously, most politicians tried to at least be somewhat civil, but since the Bill Clinton era, political discourse has gone downhill, and it’s trying it’s best to reach the bottom with the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans. And it’s filtering down to state and local politicians, too. I was horrified when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested back in March that fellow seniors should risk their health for the sake of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talk radio hosts helped eliminate moderation from Republican politics. According to Brian Anderson, author of Talk Radio’s America, “Any Republican who sought out compromise or who rejected political warfare found him or herself a target of conservative media.” These radio talk show hosts turned politics into a blood sport. Now many elected Republicans sound like radio commentators instead of statesmen.

How nasty can a Republican candidate be and still win the party’s official approval? Roy Moore ran for the Senate in 2017 with full approval of the Republican National Committee, despite having publicly disparaged Islam and homosexuality, being removed from the Alabama Supreme Court (not once, but twice) for refusing to comply with federal court rulings, and having said that America was great during slavery because people “cared for one another.” He only lost RNC support when it turned out he was a child molester, yet Trump still endorsed him and the RNC reversed itself and got behind him again. Thankfully, Democrat Doug Jones won that election. Whether he will win reelection in 2020 is doubtful; he won that special election by the slimmest of margins. My mother refers to him as “that idiot Doug Jones,” though she knows absolutely nothing about the man. I know he’s a better father than she is a mother, because he accepted his gay son something she never will do. I will always be disgusted with my parents for voting for a child molester who fought all his life to take away people’s freedoms over a good and decent man who spent his life as a champion for justice.

In a side note: I was at a restaurant with my mother one night. We were about to go see a musical at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. My sister won’t go to things like this so my mother plans them when I am home. She doesn’t like having a gay son, but ironically, she prefers my fashion advice, my cultured background, and many other things which are stereotypically gay about me. Go figure. Anyway, we were at this restaurant, one of my favorites in Montgomery (Charles Anthony’s Restaurant At The Pub), when Roy Moore walked in with his wife who he met when she was underage, and his drug addled son who has been in and out of jail most of his adult life. (He’s even been barred from entering one Alabama town.). I was utterly disgusted. I literally got sick to my stomach at the sight of such a vile person. It ruined my otherwise pleasant night.

I think it’s also reasonable to argue that common Republican political maneuvers are nasty. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and taking away powers from newly-elected Democratic governors are dirty political tools that have become the hallmark of 21st century Republicanism. Not to say Democrats haven’t tried similar tactics in the past, it’s that those tactics do seem in the past for the Democratic Party. Whereas, the official policies of Republicans in Washington remain beastly: caging immigrant children and the treatment of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria.

What about your neighbor who votes Republican, but seems like a nice guy? Is he responsible for the nastiness of other Republicans? I believe supporting a politician, approving publicly of a politician, means accepting responsibility for that politician’s actions. There has been a saying going around that has a lot of truth to it: “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker.” 

With an approval rating of 90 percent of Republican voters, Trump lacks any need (other than basic human decency) to restrain himself from his basest impulses. In the month of May, he topped himself. He retweeted a video in which a Republican New Mexico county commissioner said, “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” I mentioned in a blog post last week that I posted on Facebook a list of Trump’s worst transgressions with links proving them. One of the replies I received was simply, “He is still better than a Democrat.” I was so upset with that comment I wrote:

I am not so sure about that. He is a person who shows absolutely no compassion or understanding of human decency. As I said before, he’s a bully and seems to enjoy putting other people down and calling them names. I dealt with bullies all the years I was in school, and I didn’t like it then, and I do not like it now. It’s really sad that people follow one party so much that they excuse a person’s atrocious behavior only because he’s not a member of the Democratic Party. A president should be a role model, and if you think Trump is a role model, then that makes me even sadder.

I received no response from the original commenter. While any decent person would have apologized, they obviously didn’t care enough to do so. That broke my heart; I’ve known this person all my life. She is a family friend, and I’m not sure I will ever be able to look at her again without total disgust. It may be too great a leap of generalization to say that Republicans are nasty people. But in their full-throated support for Trump no matter how nasty he gets, America’s Republicans promote nastiness.

The American political climate needs a real and drastic change. The partisan hatred needs to stop. The nastiness needs to stop. I can remember growing up in Alabama at a time when campaign ads got nastier and nastier. That changed when the nastiest of the politicians lost their elections. But I fear with Trump as president, those days are returning. And they aren’t just television advertisements. Attacks also take the form of tweets, political pundits, Facebook posts, and numerous other social media sites. It’s a total embarrassment that people who are supposed to represent us in this great republic, represent us as a petty, nasty, idiotic people.


2020: The Worst Year?

Some historians claim the most traumatic year in modern American history was 1968, but that 2020 is shaping up as the second worst with Trump having no bottom to how low he will go. With seven months left in 2020, the comparison of these two years provides little comfort, and several reasons for concern.

When I taught World or American History, I always said there were certain pivotal years: 1066, 1492, 1776, 1968, 1969, and others. I did not teach date memorization, but there are years and dates that need to be remembered. The year 1968 belongs on that list as an unbelievably anno horribilis while most of the other dates mark positive historical events. In the case of 1969, a lot of events just happened: Stonewall, the Moon Landing, Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick incident, the Summer of Love, the Manson Murders, Woodstock, Hurricane Camille, the list goes on…

How could any year be worse than the current one in which more Americans are out of work than in the Great Depression, and more people are needlessly dying than in several of America’s wars combined? How could the domestic order seem more frayed and failing than it has in the past week with the filmed record of a white, Minneapolis police officer calmly killing a black man as other officers just as calmly looked on? This led naturally to protests which in turn led to looting and destruction. In many cities, police and troopers, kitted out as if for Baghdad circa 2003, widened the violence and hastened the decay with strong-arm tactics sure to generate new protests.

Most of the objects of police roundups have been civilians. But in a rapidly expanding list of cities—first Minneapolis, then Louisville, Seattle, Detroit, and elsewhere—reporters appeared to be singled out by police as targets. The arrest of CNN’s Omar Jimenez on live television was just one of many to come. Againin Minneapolis, Minnesota State Patrol members approached a group of a dozen reporters all bearing credentials and yelling to identify themselves as press, and “fired tear gas […] at point-blank range.” In Louisville, Kaitlin Rust, a reporter for an NBC affiliate, yelled on camera, “I’m getting shot!” as her cameraman, James Dobson, filmed an officer taking careful aim and firing a pepper-ball gun directly at them. In Detroit, the reporter JC Reindl, of the Free Press, was pepper-sprayed in the face even as he held up his press badge. The examples keep piling up.

One man can be blamed for these abuses of the press: Donald Trump. From the beginning of his presidency, he referred to the press as “the enemy of the people.” It’s a vile term with a dangerous history. During the French Revolution, December 1793, Robespierre stated, “The revolutionary government…owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death.” During the Russian Revolution, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and many other times in history, the phrase has been used to place people beyond the pale. It is at its vilest and most dangerous when used by people in power while attacks are ongoing. Those are the exact circumstances under which Trump uses it. In his appalling 2017 inaugural address, he spoke about “American carnage.” Thus, he prophetically began his time in office by profaning the setting from which all his predecessors had invoked American potential and American hope. Under his auspices, we’ve seen a new kind of carnage; it’s all bad, and it’s all getting worse.

So how does it compare with the distant past of 1968? There is no objective comparison of suffering or confusion. Fear, loss, dislocation, and despair are real enough to people who encounter them no matter what happened to someone else at some other time.

In 1968, these terrible and/or shocking events occurred:

• On average, nearly 50 American servicemen died in combat in Vietnam every day—plus many more Vietnamese.

• Prague Spring began on January 5 and ended disastrously with the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August.

• Starting on January 31 – The Tet Offensive began as Vietnam celebrated the Tet Holiday, and dragged on until September causing Walter Cronkite to report that “the bloody experience of Vietnam is [likely] to end in a stalemate” and prompted President Johnson to proclaim, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

• February 1 – A Viet Cong prisoner was executed on a Saigon street by a South Vietnamese National Police Chief. The event was photographed by Associated Press photographer, Eddie Adams; the photo made headlines around the world. It swayed U.S. public opinion against the war. If you’ve seen the photograph, you’ll never forget it.

• February 8 – Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina wherethree college students were killed by highway patrolmen.

• March 16 – My Lai Massacre where a company of American soldiers brutally killed most of the people—men, women, children, infants—in the village of My Lai, South Vietnam.

• March 31 – Johnson announced he would not run for re-election as he uttered these two simple sentences:

[…] I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.

• April 4 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee causing riots to erupt in major American cities that lasted for several days afterward.

• June 5 – U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles.

• July-September – The H3N2 influenza known colloquially as the Hong Kong flu garnered little interest at the time, but estimated number of deaths was one million worldwide,with about 100,000 in the United States. Most of the deaths were people 65 and older. It is similar to COVID-19.

• August 28 – 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where police clash with anti-war protesters

• The “most intrusive ever” case of foreign interference in a U.S. election occurred although it was covered up at the time. {In brief: Richard Nixon’s campaign had back-channel connections with the South Vietnamese government andurged it to go slow in negotiations to end the war in hopes of better terms if they helped Nixon win.}

Try to approximate the surprise of Johnson’s announcement to end his presidential re-election bid. Imagine listening to a standard Trump rant-speech, and hearing something like Johnson’s words. Imagine, also, a leader like Johnson who had spent his entire life thinking about wielding power—and who decided, in the nation’s interest, to give it up.

In some ways, the comparison between 1968 and 2020 might make Americans feel better, or at least consoled, that things have been terrible before. But here are two implications that cut the other way.

First, everyone contending for power in American politics in 1968 was competent. They all had governing experience. And most of them—even, arguably, George Wallace who had been governor of Alabama and running as a segregationist—recognized that a leader’s duty was supposed to include representing the American public as a whole. Each of them had, as all powerful figures do, his vanities and excesses and blind spots, plus, of course, points of corruption. Wallace, in his flagrant and pugnacious way, and Nixon, with his smarm, preyed upon American prejudices and resentments. But all of them recognized what they were expected to say. For Johnson, this was obvious. For Humphrey, whose breakthrough in politics was as a young, firebrand, pro-civil-rights mayor of, yes, Minneapolis in the 1940s, this was the pain of being lumbered with defense of the Vietnam War visible every day.

Nixon’s breakthrough had been as a GOP dirty-tricks hit manduring the McCarthy Era. But—and this is the contrast with today—he had a broader range in his register. If you read his 1968 acceptance speech at the Republican convention, and contrast it with Donald Trump’s “I alone can fix it” monstrosity from the 2016 RNC convention, you will see the difference. Trump knows only how to talk about himself, and his critics. Nixon knew how to at least feign a bring us together message. For instance, after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it was Trump himself who tweeted about “thugs” and “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Nixon would not say things so crudely while in the public eye; he was, however, known to be quite crude in private. In 1968, the political players at least seemed competent. There was no chance that the White House would end up in the hands of a clown.

Second, is a similarity between 1968 and the present. Nixon knew that the specter of disorder—especially disorderly conduct by Black Americans, face-to-face with police—was one of his strongest weapons. He said as much in his convention speech:

As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night … We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home. And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish. Did we come all this way for this? Did American boys die in Normandy, and Korea, and in Valley Forge for this?

When people feel afraid, they want someone who claims to be strong. Law-and-order candidates rise when confidence in regular order ebbs. Richard Nixon had much more going for him in 1968 than Donald Trump does in 2020—most of all that Nixon, not being the incumbent, could campaign on everything that was wrong with the country; while Trump, as the incumbent, must defend his management and record which includes record unemployment and an economy in chaos. But protests and fear of disorder—especially fear of angry Black people in disorder—drew people to Nixon as the law-and-order candidate in 1968, and he clearly knew that.

Conversely, Donald Trump could not put that point as carefully as Nixon. But he must sense that backlash against disorder from people he has classified as the other and the enemy, is his main—indeed, his only—electoral hope. Trump promised in hisinaugural address that “American carnage stops right here, right now.” Now, he appears to be trying to make it worse.


Qui Tacet Consentire Videtur

Qui tacet consentire videtur is Latin for “he who is silent is taken to agree.” Thus, silence gives consent. Sometimes accompanied by the proviso “ubi loqui debuit ac potuit,” that is, “when he ought to have spoken and was able to.” The maxim is probably best know as the defense given by Sir Thomas More during his trial for treason and was dramatized in A Man for All Seasons (play 1960, film 1966). If you are not familiar with the event, the play, or the movie, A Man for All Seasons depicts the final years of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Lord Chancellor of England who refused both to sign a letter asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry VIII of England’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and to take an Oath of Supremacy declaring Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England. For his refusal, More was put on trial for treason with Thomas Cromwell as the prosecutor.

In the trial scene Cromwell asks More, “Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!”

To which More replies, “Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is “Qui tacet consentiret:” the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent.” If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.”

Cromwell then asks, “Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?”

And More responds, “The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.”

More, relying upon legal precedent and the maxim understood that he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the King was Supreme Head of the Church, and he therefore refused to answer all questions regarding his opinions on the subject. Cromwell brought forth Solicitor General Richard Rich to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the King was the legitimate head of the Church. More characterized the testimony as highly dubious but to no avail, and the jury took only fifteen minutes to find More guilty. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535.

You might be wondering the reason behind this post and the retelling of this bit of history. It has to do with my personal Facebook account. I rarely, if ever, discuss politics on Facebook. I use it to keep in contact with my family, my friends from graduate school, and various coworkers, past and present. I broke my no politics rule on Monday and shared a Facebook post that I saw on I Should Be Laughing which addressed the question, “Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?”

I knew when I posted it, it would be an incendiary post and anger some of my friends and family. Only a few replied with comments disputing what I had shared. They claimed it was all from liberal media sources. I pointed out that every time a conservative sees a piece of news they don’t like, they try to discredit it by saying its from the liberal media and is fake news. Surprisingly, more of my friends and family liked the post. A few left comments in support. I shared that post because I can no longer be silent about the atrocious behavior of Trump and what he’s done to our country. Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit. Trump’s behavior everyday gets more and more unacceptable. I cannot in good conscience remain silent.

George F. Will, who for decades has been at the intellectual center of American conservatism, called for Americans, and especially Republicans, to vote out Trump in November. Will wrote, “The lesson of Donald Trump’s life is: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come.” He had harsh words for Trump, but he saved his true condemnation for the members of Congress who have enabled the President. He wrote in the Washington Post article, “In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for … what? Praying people should pray, and all others should hope: May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.”

As if to prove Will’s point, Senate Republicans raced to defend Trump’s “law and order” speech on Monday night and his decision to clear out protesters from in front of the White House so that he could stroll across H Street to hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church. “You can characterize it the way you want, but obviously the President is free to go where he wants and to hold up a Bible if he wants,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, told CNN.

He mocked all Christians with his Monday night’s stunt. But, of course, sacredness has never been a concern of Trump’s. He didn’t open the Bible he was brandishing for the cameras, because he had no use for its text. He didn’t go inside the church he was using as a backdrop, because he had no interest in a sermon. To Trump, the Bible and the church are not symbols of faith; they are weapons of culture war. And to many of his Christian supporters watching at home, the pandering wasn’t an act of inauthenticity; it was a sign of allegiance—and shared dominance. And that, my friends, is the saddest thing of all: the fact that their pro-life beliefs, hatred of Democrats, and the notions of Christian nationalism are used to justify everything that Trump says and does. It’s not only sad, but it’s also frightening and disgusting. If people truly want to make America great again, then they must vote Trump and his lapdogs out of office.