SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN
“But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 King James Version
Religion is a powerful force in American politics. And within the Republican Party, Christian conservatives are a crucial interest group. According to a recent Pew Poll, 61% of Republicans report that religion is very important in one’s life, whereas only 47% report the same in the Democratic Party. A breakdown by denomination shows that support for the Republican Party is: 56% among Evangelical Protestants, 37% among Catholics, and 70% among Mormons.
It is mystifying to know that this segment of the Republican Party supports the sadistic actions committed on helpless children by Donald Trump and his Republican Party. They will go to the polls and, with their votes, re-elect this dystopian party – this party that offers America nothing but suffering and injustice for the poor. This is the very definition of cognitive dissonance. The crimes being committed at our southern border with Mexico are the antithesis of the teachings of Christ. To deny young children basic human rights such as food, proper hygiene, medical attention, and even beds in which to sleep – all in the name of immigration policy – is a violation of human decency. It is sadistic. Donald Trump is sadistic, and Christians who vote for him must be – despite all their moralizing – just as cruel. How else can one explain this? Each and every policy Donald Trump and the GOP present to them is a violation of their own belief system – their own identity as moral people, as followers of Christ. Why would a committed Christian support such a man and his apocalyptic ideas?
Some of us remember the 20th Century – the sheer body count of its wars and its unrivaled sadism. Following the end of WWII, Germany did something that it had to do in order to once again be permitted to join the community of civilized people. It accepted responsibility for its historic crimes against humanity and changed its laws so that no citizen could ever again revive fascism by scapegoating minorities there again.
In 1970, Willy Brandt, then the West German Chancellor, made a further gesture to the victims of German sadism, known as the “Kniefall von Warschau”, – the Warsaw Genuflection. He knelt before a monument in remembrance of the Warsaw Uprising where 56,065 Jews and Polish citizens were murdered by the Nazis, and where the remaining residents were captured and shipped in cattle cars to concentration camps to be exterminated.
Today in Germany it is only necessary to say: “Ich bin Jahrgang 1945” – “My year of birth was 1945” – to say all that’s necessary to know about what they knew of their history, and how they subsequently took responsibility for their crimes.
20th Century American history is taught today in the guise of our national mythology. We are the good guys. We have always been the good guys; the country of religious tolerance; the country of Christian virtue. We were the good guys in the early 1800s during our westward expansion. We were the good guys while we rounded up Native Americans and exterminated them. We were the good guys when we expanded slavery while implementing the ideal of Manifest Destiny. Andrew Jackson was our president at that time – and his portrait now hangs prominently in the Oval Office of President Donald Trump. Trump chose Andrew Jackson’s portrait for a reason. Manifest Destiny is a stain on our history – one of our original sins. So we should ask why does Donald Trump revere him so?
Our history is really not so different from that of 20th Century Europe. However, unlike most European states, our geography is unique. We’ve grown to become a world hegemon in great part because of our geography: our heartland is the largest and most productive agricultural region in the world, and the fact that we have peaceful neighbors at our two borders. We’ve never been invaded, and our system of government has prevailed largely because our politics are based upon a fundamental tenet: compromise. But this critical feature of American politics – compromise – has been replaced with a virulent form of hyper-partisanship. The most dangerous problem facing us today is political polarization and the breakdown of political compromise. It has led to extremism; it’s what’s killing us.
Jared Diamond, one of America’s most celebrated intellectuals, says this about our future:
“I foresee one political party in power in the US government or in state governments increasingly manipulating voter registration, stacking the courts with sympathetic judges, using those courts to challenge election outcomes, and then invoking “law enforcement” and using the police, the National Guard, the army reserve, or the army itself, to suppress political opposition.”
Republicans use exhortations to patriotism, slurs like “card carrying communists” (soon to be revised to include socialists), and myths like American Exceptionalism in order to galvanize the most easily manipulated among us to foam at the mouth at Trump’s cult-like rallies. These are unmistakable tactics reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
And tragically for us, only 60% of Americans even bother to vote. We have no working knowledge anymore of our own national identity – our own national creed. If we did, our president wouldn’t dare kidnap little children at our border; he wouldn’t dare sexually assault women at will and boast about it; he wouldn’t dare threaten war in every corner of the world – and the Republican Party wouldn’t dare obstruct his removal from office.
If we did remember our a national identity and a share a working knowledge of how we came to be, our president would kneel at the monument of Martin Luther King Jr. as Willy Brandt did in Warsaw in 1970. But President Trump and his supporters were taught their worldviews from their heroes. Their ancestors – the people they emulate, the ones who almost broke the world.
Saying you’re moral doesn’t mean you are moral. Someone needs to tell that to the single largest voting bloc of the Republican Party: the Christian conservatives who plan to bequeath their vote to Donald Trump in 2020.
Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc. and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations. If you find her perspectives interesting, controversial, or provocative, follow her at: https://www.facebook.com/debby.long.98499?ref=br_rs