By Robert Mann
“Ten percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and the remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.” ―Susan Sontag
With his profanity and crude insults, his threats of violence against opponents and his insults of the disabled, women and prisoners of war, President Donald Trump has contributed much to the coarsening of American society and politics.During his six months in the White House, he has made the U.S. government callous — even hostile — to the poor and powerless. More troubling, he’s abetted in his immoral enterprise by so-called Evangelical Christians, who ignore Jesus’ admonition to care for “the least of these,” or as I prefer to call them, “God’s beloved.”
Trump didn’t prompt his Evangelical and other supporters to abandon the poor and the sick. Many of them had done so long ago. He has, however, fortified their animosity and vitriol toward the powerless.
What, in God’s name, has happened to us? The United States was once a country people in dark, violent corners of the world saw as a refuge from persecution and torture. People everywhere knew America stood, not only for freedom but for universal human rights.
They had faith the U.S. government — embodying the decency and goodwill of its people — would help them after earthquakes, floods, famines, genocide and war. They knew when no one else would take them in, Americans would throw open our doors to the “poor . . . huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
America has long been a beacon of hope and a staunch defender of the oppressed. Under Trump, however, that’s ending.
We are becoming a sick and sad shadow of our former self. A president elected by a minority of voters and buttressed by a gutless GOP majority in Congress is taking the country on a terrifying ride into the heart of darkness.
Trump and his shrinking but still-potent base oppose offering refuge to oppressed people from other lands, especially if they are from the Middle East. Trump imposes a cruel travel ban against Muslims, and people cheer. Neither he nor his supporters find it within their hardened hearts to defend immigrants with young children before they toss them from the country.
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