Saturday, June 23, 2018

Republicans who get it

Steve Schmitt, MaCain’s campaign manager, announced a few days ago that he was changing his registration to Democrat.  David Brooks has written thoughtful columns warning how Trump is changing America in terrible ways and why he needs to be reined in.  George Will is urging people to vote Democratic this November.

I understand that there are many people out there who will support Trump no matter what.  They are invested in him, and will back him no matter how outrageous or evil his policies are.  I also know there are thoughtful conservative Republicans who are appalled at this administration and what it is doing.  I urge those Republicans to change their registration, to speak out, and to save our country. 

I know from personal experience how difficult it is to turn one’s back on his or her political party.  I also know that sometimes it is the right thing to do.  Remember that once Trump is rejected, you can always change back to the party with which you feel comfortable.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Valley Forge

Linda, our grandson Gavin, and I visited Valley Forge today.  It was good to be reminded that at one time in our country we were led by people like Washington and Lafayette, brave men who fought for freedom from a government they regarded as tyrannical.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

American exceptionalism

The history of America can seem rather bleak.  Indian removal and slaughter, slavery, immigrant bashing, prejudice against various religious groups, racial segregation, anti-union violence, wars against Mexicans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese, Japanese internment camps, Red Scares–you can extend the list.

We taught all of this in American studies.  We also taught that for every evil committed by our country, voices always spoke out in protest.  While the Puritans fought Indians, Roger Williams negotiated agreements and wrote a dictionary of the local Indian language.  When a Boston mob demanded blood from British troops after the Boston Massacre, John Adams was the defense attorney for those troops.  John Wollman and Ben Franklin spoke out against slavery even before it was outlawed in Britain.  The Underground Railroad helped slaves reach freedom.  The Wobblies and the Knights of Labor pushed for workers’ rights.  The Suffragettes marched and fought for the right of women to vote.  The NAACP fought segregation.  The ACLU defined victims of the Red Scare.

If you look you can always find brave men and women who spoke out against bigotry, violence, and hate.  They didn’t always win, but they made a mark.  We can look back on their efforts with pride.  

America is an exceptional nation not because we are strong, not because of our military, not because of our wealth, and certainly not because of our political leadership.  We are an exceptional nation because our our ideals;  ideals that the rest of the world looked up to and in many cases tried to emulate.  It was not our successes that were important, it was our goals and aspirations.

The irony of “Make America Great Again” as a slogan for this administration is almost too much to bear.  We are no longer the model for idealistic people.  We are becoming the nation that decent and caring people turn away from, while so-called “strongmen” and neo-fascists now see us as a model.  

Large crowds cheer hateful rhetoric.  White House staffers and cable network pundits make fun of crying children.  Our president whips up bigotry and calls desperate immigrants an “infestation.”  How did this happen to us?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

So Many Refugees

The United Nations reported this week that 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced because of conflict or persecution in 2017, the highest number since the end of World War II. 

We picture refugees coming across the border into Texas or fleeing from Africa to Italy in boats.  Many of the refugees, however, escape to countries as poor as the places from which they fled.  For example, 5.6 million people have fled from Syria, but most ended up in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.  

Afghanistan is full of people fleeing violence from military conflict or Taliban brutality.  It has the largest refugee population in Asia.  Incidentally, Pakistan has started returning Afghanis seeking asylum there.

South Sudan refugees are fleeing, mostly to Uganda, which hosts over a million.  Uganda, as you may guess, is not a rich country. 

Myanmar is driving out its Rohingya population, and the refugees are ending up in Bangladesh.

Somalia, a “failed state,” is the fifth largest refugee producer.  Those refugees mostly go to Kenya, Yemen, and Ethiopia.  Can you imagine how desperate you must be to seek refuge in Yemen?

We have been warned about the carrying capacity of the globe for years.  Malthus, it now seems, had a point.  We have too many people and too little food.  

The burdens borne by the industrialized countries are slight compared to countries like Kenya, Bangladesh, or Uganda.  The world is asking some of the poorest people on the globe to host millions of desperate people.  

Statistics for this post are from Megan Sepcia, “Humanity of the Move:  5 Conflicts That Drive the Global Refugee Crisis, New York Times, (June 20, 2018), p. A19.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump on European migrants

European countries, unlike the U.S., have accepted thousands of refugees from places like Syria and Libya.  A backlash has developed in Hungary, Poland, Austria, and other countries.  So-called “populist movements” and neo-fascists are doing their best to undermine the democratic consensus.

So what does Trump do?  He praises the neo-fascists.  “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” he tweeted, and claimed, falsely, that crime had risen in Germany as a result of immigrants.  

In the past I’ve had little patience for people who drag Hitler into a political discussion, but in this case it fits.  Try to imagine President Franklin Roosevelt praising the Nazi Party in Germany in the early Thirties before it came to power.  What Trump is doing is the equivalent of that.

See Patrick Kingsley, “Europe Allies, Grip Slipping, Get U.S. Shove, New York Times (June 19, 2018), pp. A-1, A-8.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quoting Scripture

I’m probably not the best person to criticize Attorney General Jeff Sessions for quoting scripture, but my Mother was a Sunday School teacher, and I do know a few things about the Bible.  I am always amazed what people can get out of that book.  

Here is Sessions defending ripping apart families of asylum seekers, using as his rationale a verse from the book of Romans about the need to obey the laws of government to maintain order.

Ordnung muss sein.  Nicht wahr?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Back in Penna.

After a 650-mile sprint from Knoxville, we are back home in Carbon County.  I'll get political tomorrow.  Right now I'm going to bed.

Has Trump been impeached yet?