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Sorry! It's another political post. As I say below, I was inspired to write this by our readings at Mass these past two weeks. They were almost scarily relevant.

Before our current president (I suppose we must call him that) took the oath of office, I had a brief conversation with a friend. “Young women I know are in tears,” she said to me. “I can’t understand it. I think it has to get worse before it gets better.” At the time, I was rather shocked and startled, but I’m starting to agree with her.

It’s not that Trump isn’t awful. He is. He is even worse than I imagined he would be, and the appearance of Swastikas on public property is absolutely chilling. All the bullies, racists, and neo Nazis seem to have been greatly encouraged by recent events. And yet-

I’ve said in my last posts on this topic that both the Democrats and the Republicans have served the culture of death. Both have served Empire. But Hillary Clinton is a sane woman. Donald Trump, seen from the outside, looks like a malignant narcissist. His grasping at power and contempt for the law show exactly where this country has been headed for decades now. Hillary Clinton, though she is also a servant of Empire, would not have shown this so clearly, precisely because she is sane. Here’s what I mean.

Over my lifetime, the power of the executive branch has grown to a frightening extent. Consider this: In his botched raid on Yemen, Donald Trump killed a little American girl. That is an outrage and a tragedy. But president Obama, in a drone strike, murdered this child’s big brother. I repeat, both these children were American citizens. We, the people, gave our president the right to be judge, jury, and executioner of an American child. There was some outcry over the death of young Abdulrahman Al-Alawki, but not much. After all, he was the son of a terrorist. And he was killed in Yemen, not on American soil. So most of us ignored it. Many probably didn’t even know about it.

And then there were the executive orders. President Obama was generally doing good things with them, for example, protecting the Arctic from drilling. But now Donald Trump has the power to pass executive orders. And look what he has done with them! His awful, unconstitutional anti-immigrant order is the most glaring example so far, but it’s not the only one. The thing is, governing by executive order is a problem even if a good man or woman is doing it. Bypassing the balance of power and the people’s elected representatives is a problem. It was okay, perhaps, when Obama did it, because he was sane and meant well.* But still. The Donald now has the power we gave Obama.

And, as Alison Weir has pointed out, the executive order against immigrants did not come out of a clear blue sky. Please read this link. Please! It’s important. If you haven’t heard about “securing the realm” or the “project for a new American century”, please read what they entail and then consider what we actually see happening in the world. Empire is moving fast, and causing untold harm to millions of innocents.

But, precisely because Trump is now in charge, and is so coarse and cruel in his directives, people are waking up. That may be a blessing. Because, in the end, Empire will not be victorious. Not in the long run. Love really does trump hate, and, for those of us who are Christians, we must strive to live and act in the love of Christ.

I’m writing this because, last week, we had a whole series of readings that were almost scarily relevant. Paul to the Corinthians, and then the Beatitudes. Madeleine L’Engle quoted the reading from Corinthians in her classic, “A Wrinkle in Time :

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are..” (First Corinthians, King James, 26-28).

And I thought at once of this warrior God has chosen to confound the mighty!

There are so many other innocent, good people caught up in this ban--the college researcher who'd lived and worked here for seven years and now cannot get home to her job, apartment, and dog; the five-year-old boy held for hours at Dulles, and so many more. But this case is especially outrageous. That baby, in her innocence and vulnerability, shows us exactly who and what the Donald is.

Our Lord came to this earth as a baby like this one. Our Lord was a Middle Eastern refugee. In the long run, Empire will not win out over love.

Date: 2017-02-06 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
\\ But president Obama, in a drone strike, murdered this child’s big brother. I repeat, both these children were American citizens. We, the people, gave our president the right to be judge, jury, and executioner of an American child.

Reminded me of this discussion on my favorite blog:

Date: 2017-02-08 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I read the entry. Needless to say, I think your friend has a poor understanding of the rule of law and the protections that should be afforded citizens by the U.S. Constitution. My belief is that one of the greatest things we have given the world (amid a lot of bloodshed we unfortunately also gave the world) is the Bill of Rights. That bill states plainly that every American citizen who is accused of a crime has a right to a trial by a jury of his/her peers.

Now, you can argue that Anwar-Al Alawki forfeited his rights as an American citizen by going to Yemen and supporting Al- Qaida. But his children?! Neither of them had been so much as accused of anything. Their murders were a clear violation of their rights, as citizens, under our constitution.

And it's the president's job to serve us. It's the president's job to safeguard our rights under the law. Not to kill us because he doesn't like our fathers, or mothers, or other relatives.

Date: 2017-02-06 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I tend to be skeptical of "it has to get worse before it gets better" arguments, but I have to admit the Trump Presidency has galvanized a lot of activist energy from places and people who weren't exactly complacent, but didn't show any signs of running off to storm the Bastille any time soon before the election.

All the nasty things which Trump has done and is doing, all the horribleness that he stands for, has bipartisan precedent going back decades, if not to before the founding of the Republic. These tendencies were kicked up a gear after the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack and remained that way with the full support of both major parties. Clinton stood for more of the same, with some very modest improvements; whereas Trump stood for kicking it all up yet another gear (with the possible exception of the Trans Pacific Partnership). I still think this outcome is worse, but I'm not going to let either one dictate the future for me and for the planet and peoples I love.

I would disagree with the assertion that "we, the people" gave the president the right to be judge, jury, and executioner of anyone, regardless of age or citizenship status. I sure as f*** don't remember ever having my opinion of executive powers solicited, let alone being given a meaningful say over whether the president should be allowed to commit such atrocities or not (again, regardless of the age or citizenship of the victims). "Democracy," as it applies to the US political system has always been a joke, and we do ourselves and each other a disservice by stating or implying that any part of this messed-up business is our fault, individually or collectively. We may be guilty of not pushing back hard enough (collectively, we certainly are), but that's different from saying we actively chose to create an office of chief executive and give him the power of judge, jury and executioner over US citizens and non-citizens alike.

in the end, Empire will not be victorious. Not in the long run.

Recently, I find myself continually coming back to the speech in Gandhi, where he talks about finding solace in the fact that dictators and dictatorships always fall sooner or later. No tyrant lasts forever, and no tyranny, either.

Date: 2017-02-09 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"All the nasty things which Trump has done and is doing, all the horribleness that he stand for, has bipartisan roots going back decades..."

Yes, I agree. I said so, didn't I?

As to not being asked your opinion on the president's executive powers, I agree with that, too. We were never asked! But our elected officials, who are supposed to serve as a check on those powers, certainly didn't do their jobs. I think president Obama should have been impeached for his drone wars. There, I've said it. And yet I do think he was, and is, basically a good man. The buffoon we have in office now is not. Yet he now has these powers. I am hoping that some few of the republicans will remember their humanity enough to oppose him.

And I've got to say, as someone who's socially fairly conservative, I can't understand Trump's base. I can't understand why, after his disastrous first three weeks, he still has a nearly forty percent approval rating. It makes me feel almost desperate. I actually know a couple of Trump voters, and know them to be basically decent people. But they are thoroughly brainwashed. And it terrifies me to see our system of checks and balances, as imperfect as it is, being so eroded.

Anyway, thanks for your comment. I am almost overwhelmed at Trump's awfulness, and I do wish the democrats would look at themselves and see what they did to help bring it about. But I don't see that happening, either.

Oh, well. We've got to get rid of him first. Hopefully that will happen soon. He is already repeatedly in violation of the constitution. He's worse than Nixon, worse than Bush, and up there with Reagan and Iran-Contra. Already, after only three weeks! He's got to go.

Date: 2017-02-09 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, I agree. I said so, didn't I?

Pretty much. I thought I would expound upon the point, because I think it bears emphasizing.

I also think it helps to explain how Trump managed to squeak his way into the White House and maintain an approval rating even that high. There's been a lot of talk since even before he took office of the need to avoid "normalizing" Trump's authoritarianism and human rights abuses in the media and in other political discourse. And while I absolutely agree, I feel like much of the work of normalization was already done by both major parties, and the courts, and the mainstream media under the previous two Presidencies. (And going back further, I remember a remark from Noam Chomsky, I think in the early 90s, that if Nuremberg principles were followed consistently, every US President post-1945 would've been hanged.) I think a lot of people have been primed for awfulness by Trump's predecessors and what they got away with. Far from a complete answer, I admit, but perhaps a partial one.

Obviously, getting rid of Trump and the extreme forms of awfulness he represents are the most immediate and pressing concerns; but when that's done, we have to find some way (what way, I don't know) to deal with the systems and forces which made it possible for him to make it this far in the first place.


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