Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Trumped Up Rhetoric

 Too many times to count in this column we have written about how the First Amendment is at its finest during the political season and especially to the run up for the Presidency. We have extolled the virtues of the First Amendment and how it allows free debate of issues not to be found in any other country on earth.  We have remarked how the lack of censorship allows for even the most outlandish of positions and ideas to be brought forth, and for the American people to weigh those ideas.  And regardless of a Presidential race unlike any that we have seen on our 60 plus years on earth, we will not retreat from those positions.  

     Yet we have the right under the First Amendment to make our own comments and when it comes to what is going on and transpiring in this political season, we feel that we must.  What is happening during this political season and in large part, if not totally because of Donald Trump, is a vast changing of the America that we grew up in and the America that most of us hold dear and true.  Few of us are without prejudices and bigotries.  Few of us are
those fair, color blind, racially blind, ethnically blind, religiously blind and whatever blind people that we would like to be or believe that we should be.  By and large, without normally saying so, we down-deep believe that this is a country for white Judeo-Christians with a heavy emphasis on the Christian.  We champion equal rights for all but down-deep believe
that these equal rights are to be doled out by the white Christian majority as treats, as long as it does not get out of hand.  

     But we have all been brought up to believe that all men are created equal and that
race, religion and ethnicity does not matter.  So we internally fight.  Our hearts telling us that there is a difference between us and our heads telling us that it is not right to feel that way. 

     As we have evolved as a nation we have allowed our heads to win the debate;
outlawing slavery, overturning various immigration acts against the yellow menace, giving
women the right to vote; and looking back at our history of internment of the Japanese during World War II as past aberrations that should never be repeated again.  Yet, when that white Christian does not occupy the oval office, but rather a half-black with Kenyan roots, some
of our hearts and natural prejudices take over.  Nobody down deep really believes that Barak
Obama is Muslim. Nobody down deep believes that he is not an American citizen. But by
claiming these two facts, it allows those who still have not come to grips with a black
President to not acknowledge their racism but to attack the man with so called legitimacy.

     But in that debate, and by the way Donald Trump is the king of that debate, we have
moved the bar, or should we say the bar has been moved for us.  Somehow, without being
challenged or at least not challenged sufficiently, the premise is allowed to lie that a Muslim does not have the right to be President.  By defending the fact that President Obama is
Christian, his supporters give in to the premise.  The net result is that this is an American Christian country and that a Muslim has no right to be President.

     Donald Trump has made a cottage industry of attacking minorities.  Mexicans are drug
dealers and rapists and Muslims are terrorists.  Over the last 8 years the debate has been from a pragmatic standpoint, what do we do with 11 million hard-working, illegal immigrants,
many of them who have families who are legal in this country and who are citizens.  But, in
one quick news cycle, Donald J. Trump changed all of that.  The debate changed to whether
the children born on U.S. soil of illegal immigrants are in fact U.S. citizens and the
practicalities of a rounding up of 11 million illegal immigrants.  The debate changed from
these workers being responsible for picking vast amounts of fruits and vegetables in farm
lands across the country, to their being rapists and murders and the country would be better
off without them.  Whatever side you are on this issue is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that Donald Trump changed the playing field in the debate and gave legitimacy again to those
who have bigotries to those brown colored people on our southern border.

     When Donald Trump proposed that no Muslims be allowed to immigrate to this
country (for a brief period of time which he never defined), in some of us our hearts said that seems like a good idea.  For most of us, our heads told us that went against everything that the United States stands for.  A religious test for admission, yet the First Amendment
deplores Government sanctioning one religion over another.  Of course, there was some push
back from liberals and some in the media.  But by and large there was too little push back
from the other Republican candidates and the Republican party as a whole.  And although
Donald Trump's idea doubtfully will ever come to fruition, again he moved the goal posts,
just because we had to debate the issue. He won, this country is less welcoming to Muslims
than other religions and when they are welcomed into this country, it is because the white
Christian majority had granted them that privilege, as opposed to white Christians from other countries being entitled.

     Some say that Donald Trump is appealing to the fears of people.  Hogwash!  They cite
the 14 dead in San Bernardino as justification for this Muslim phobia.  Yet these same people have no problem with the 32,000 people that will die next year from gun related incidents in the United States.  These same people are not in fear of incidents created and committed by white individuals, such as the Sandy Hook massacre, the Columbine massacre, the movie
theater in Colorado, or the church killings in Charleston.  No, these were done by white
Americans and therefore, there is nothing to fear.  Yet death is death.

     Simply put, Donald Trump is not appealing to the fears of Americans.  Donald Trump
is appealing to the hatred, bigotry and racism that lies deep within all of us.  He has just
found a way to cultivate it, to let it grow, and to put a nice ribbon and bow on it so that it becomes more palatable, more acceptable and more justifiable.  And in so doing, he has
moved the country as a whole to thought processes that we had championed as being dead
and buried.
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