Thursday, May 25, 2017

ASSAULT IN MONTANA -- Who are we?


"Montana GOP Candidate, Greg Gianforte, Charged With Assault After ‘Body-Slamming’ Reporter"
 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/politics/greg-gianforte-montana-republican-body-slams-reporter.html

As the title of the article above states a GOP candidate for the House, Greg Gianforte, body slammed a reporter because the reporter had the temerity to ask him a pertinent question about health care which the candidate did not want to answer. Audio and video of the incident tell the truth.

I feel like I am in a nation I do not know. MSNBC Ari Melber talked about a coarsening of the culture and the inability of two groups to at least talk to one another. He is, of course, correct in his assessment. The power of the presidency sets an example of the national character and shows the face we want to present to the world. Trump's aura is certainly not that of a humanist but that of a fighter, a bully and one who yearns for the day when one can, if one disagrees, "punch them in the face." He has said so and there are many examples of his belligerence and ugly epithets he has used on the campaign trail to prove the violence of his voice. He appeals to that part of this nation that has a violence to its soul which has been there since the nation's inception. This is not alien to our history as slavery, the treatment of the Indian and the many wars fought to usurp power and wealth reflects.

Senator J. William Fulbright, United States Senator from Arkansas until 1974 and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee wrote a book entitled "The Arrogance of Power" which I read and loved as a freshman in college. It changed the trajectory of my politics. A reviewer of that book writes on Amazon:

At a time when there were no heart transplants and America had yet to put a man on the moon, one man wrote a book that speaks of our country today as much as it did when he wrote it in 1966. It is a reflection on what we have become, and the choices we make for our future. There are two competing forces for the direction we take, what the author Senator J. William Fullbright calls two Americas: One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson and the other is of Theodore Roosevelt and the Superpatriots. They are two distinct sides of the American character. The character of Lincoln is rooted in humanism and assumes that America's greatness is its recognition of its imperfections. The character of Roosevelt is rooted in American Exceptionalism, or what the senator refers to as an arrogance of power. The dominant strand of the American fabric is the democratic humanist one. It is rooted in the principles of our Founding Fathers, humanism, tolerance and accommodation. The coexisting strand is that of Theodore Roosevelt's belief in America's superiority, or what Fullbright sees as intolerant Puritanism. It is the belief that America expresses its cultural superiority through its wealth and dominance, that superiority is measured in military might.
We are two groups today, as the candidate's violent encounter with the reporter shows, moving to our respective corners one ready, at the drop of a hat, to fight the other. I'm not a fighter and yet my views of a humanitarian nation are so entrenched but so I perceive existentially threatened by those forces like Trump who want to erase the better angels of our nature that I say things often in a way that is not who I want to be.

I feel angry and aggrieved by the lies and inhumanity of the Republican right and those who prod them on like Fox News that I become intolerant of their beliefs because now, as I perceive it, our very survival as a humane nation -- a sanctuary for the poor, the desperate among nations who sail toward Lady Liberty's feet -- is at stake.

Trump and his supporters are devoid of morality willing to lie, steal, cheat and commit violence to do whatever it takes to grab power and the money its sidecar brings. Trump who so profoundly states that he could shoot a gun in the middle of Times Square and get away with it, as I think he could, reflects a nation in which I do not want to live. Those middle Americans, many of whom supported Trump, do not realize they will die from his true policies as the 1% who have the most and whom Trump is and represents will grab all they can get from those who have the least.

What have we become, who are we becoming and who do we want to be?





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