Trump Is Not Just Whistling Dixie
With Dog Whistles to Racists
by Rabbi Barry Silver
Former State Legislator and Civil Rights Attorney
Volunteering at 15 – When I was 15, I spent many hours, going door to door, volunteering for George McGovern, who promised to end the Vietnam War and protect the planet. President Nixon pledged to continue the war and did not wax eloquent about the environment.
Nixon’s Pluses – However, when Richard Nixon was re-elected in 1972, he soon ended the Vietnam War and passed landmark environmental protections such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Why? It appears that he was heavily influenced by the will of the people which manifested itself in rallies, demonstrations and powerful grass-roots movements of the 60s and 70s.
Protest Works – We see this same power today. When President Trump tweeted that transgender people must leave the military, the people rejected this bigotry, and the Commander-in-Chief was simply ignored by his generals. When Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, multitudes of Americans objected, and Congress refused to take health care away from millions of people.
Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for a wall, ban Muslims from entering the country, keep out foreign workers unless they could speak English or worked at Mar-A-Lago, and other hateful policies, have also fallen by the wayside, rejected by the American people.
Make America Worst – After the violence in Charlottesville, President Trump urged us to remember that we are Americans first. This policy will only make America worst.
I take “exception” to this pandering to American exceptionalism, and prefer to think of myself as a human being first. Trump’s favorite slogan “America First”, was originally a pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic movement in pre-World War II America, championed by the anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh, who sought to keep America out of WW II to allow Hitler free rein to implement his “final solution”. Fortunately, this odious policy was rejected in the past and should be rejected today.
While claiming to make our country great, Trump only makes our country hate, and to “grate” on the nerves of the world community, bragging that we’re the best, disparaging NATO, and withdrawing from the international effort to save our planet from the worst ecological crisis to hit mother Earth in a million years.
Whistling Dixie – Trump is not just whistling Dixie when he sends out dog whistles to neo-Nazis, the KKK and other southern bigots who long for the “good old days” reflected by statues to dead Confederates who waged war on our country to protect their “right” to own and sell their fellow human beings. He appeals to his base by appealing to their base instincts of misogyny, racism and greed, and by denouncing everyone in sight, including gold star families, war heroes, a free press, a Mexican judge, leading Republicans and even his own cabinet, but seeming incapable of denouncing Nazis as of this writing.
Where is He Leading Our Country- In fact, our President has difficulty recognizing Nazis, referring to his own defense department as “Nazis”, refusing to identify Jews as victims of the holocaust, (a classic form of holocaust denial), failing to fulfill his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (perhaps until the Messiah comes), and following an “all wrong” alt-right agenda with reckless “a Bannon”. Trump’s idolization of President Andrew Jackson, a slave-owing racist who led Native Americans on a death march called the “trail of tears” indicates where he wishes to lead our country.
Like Joe McCarthy before him, President Trump, a former Democrat, took over the GOP, and dragged it into the gutter with a cult of personality that branded his opponents as enemies of the state.
Base Instincts – Now, Trump again reaches out to his base, by reaching out to their “base” instincts, in his new initiative against transgender people in the military. His chief goal as President is to build a wall with Mexico and to make them pay for it. Since he is unable to fulfill this promise, or any of his promises literally, he is maniacally fixated on building a wall of separation between people, targeting one group after another, and the American people are paying for it when the bully pulpit is occupied by a bully.
Fortunately, once again, Republican leaders are starting to wake up to the fact that their party has been hijacked by a demagogue, who gave birth to his political aspirations with his racist “birther” claims.
Call Evil By Its Name – As Republican Senator Hatch declared, “We should call evil by its name. My brother did not give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.” The Greatest Generation had no problem identifying and fighting Nazis. Let us be inspired by their shining example of what makes our country great, i.e. hard work, loyalty to family and nation, and serving as a beacon of justice, freedom and peace for oppressed people everywhere.
How wonderful it is that we live in a Democracy where the ultimate power lies in the people, not in any elected official.
May the heroism of the greatest generation inspire the people of this generation to take back control of our country from a reality star who is out of touch with reality, and to replace Trump’s walls of separation with bridges of love and understanding.
Together, with courage and wisdom, we can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, and can transform our country from one that “grates” on the nerves of others with Trump as our leader, into a country that is truly great.