Will we be great with­out be­ing good?

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

So he was elected. I wish him, his sup­port­ers and all the rest of us well.

Al­low me to grieve for a moment. I did not think he demon­strated the char­ac­ter traits I wanted in a leader. How­ever, he is the per­fect ver­sion of an “Ugly Amer­i­can.” Loud, brash and com­pletely self-cen­tered. That is how much of the world sees us. We of­ten de­scribe our­selves this way in our lit­er­a­ture, our mu­sic, our TV shows and movies. So we might as well live down to the stereo­type.

I had hoped that I would see that racism, big­otry, misog­yny and in­tol- er­ance were fad­ing into the dust­bin of our his­tory. Ob­vi­ously not. We are now free, even en­cour­aged, to feel and act su­pe­rior to oth­ers. We wel­come the KKK into our tent, while we build walls to keep oth­ers out. Tol­er­ance and com­pas­sion are not to be Amer­i­can val­ues. We have no need to “just get along” when we can put oth­ers down and take ad­van­tage of their dif­fer­ences. I want my lead­ers to be hon­est and true. I want to be able to take their prom­ises to the bank. I ex­pect their word to be their bond. Now, it is clear that lies are the cur­rency of the new Amer­i­can pub­lic dis­course. Our lead­ers are free to say any­thing they want, and there will be no one to hold them ac­count­able. We have a good look at his clos­est as­so­ciates, those who will be wield­ing power over us. Rudy Gu­liani, who as mayor of New York, at­tempted to ap­point a crim­i­nal as po­lice com­mis­sioner. Gov. Chris Christie, whose top staff was just con­victed. Other folks who have made money cut­ting deals with the Rus­sians, in­clud­ing help­ing them take over the Crimea and threat­en­ing the in­de­pen­dence of Ukraine. Newt Gin­grich, one of the pack of se­rial phi­lan­der­ers who have made a ca­reer out of not much more than at­tack­ing the Clin­tons. We can trust th­ese peo­ple, right?

I have never liked bul­lies who make fun of oth­ers who were weaker. I re­sent those who per­se­cute those less well pre­pared to de­fend them­selves. I guess I should have re­al­ized that bul­lies are to be ad­mired and em­u­lated. Of course, I can just get a gun. A large one. Bet­ter yet, sev­eral. Then I can in­tim­i­date any­body I want to, as long as I am a part of the dom­i­nant group. Oh, yes. Let’s not for­get the role of reli­gion in the new regime. We care far more about em­bryos than we do about the mother or the child, once born. This is the only Chris­tian value we care about. Nei­ther are the poor our con­cern. It is a good thing that Christ cares about them, since we do not. We worship the golden calf, and cheer at greed and strong lead­ers who can help us ex­er­cise power over all oth­ers. Our char­ity, such as it is, is to be done loudly so that all can see how gen­er­ous we are. That is all right, since we have edited hu­mil­ity out of our scrip­tures and re­placed it with the new virtues of pride and ar­ro­gance. We have no need to ask for­give­ness of any­body, even God. Our Amer­i­can reli­gion is ded­i­cated to gain­ing power over oth­ers, to make them worship our way, ac­cord­ing to our be­liefs. There is no room for any other re­li­gions be­yond that shouted from tax sub­si­dized pul­pits by wealthy po­lit­i­cal preach­ers for hire and their bosses. After all, you can buy any­thing in this world with money. You can buy up armies and po­lice to op­press, and reign with blood and bru­tal­ity in the name of God. Of course, we will not sac­ri­fice on the bat­tle­field, or any­where else. We will send some­one else to fight, bleed and die for us. And, from the com­fort of our richly ap­pointed churches or sports sta­di­ums, we will have a moment of si­lence for those sac­ri­fi­cial lambs. We will honor them in our board­rooms, so long as we can make a profit from de­fense con­tracts. We will even wear lit­tle flags on our lapels to show how pa­tri­otic we are, even if they are made in China.

Well, at least we taught the es­tab­lish­ment some­thing. What we have learned is to lis­ten to the mob. Politi­cians with­out prin­ci­ples will join with them, for they fear that some­day the mob will come for them. We do not care for the rule of law, for checks and bal­ances, for com­plex com­pro­mises and dif­fi­cult pro­cesses that take time. We have no de­sire to be lim­ited by stan­dards, rules or good man­ners. We have our dem­a­gogue, and we now look for­ward to find­ing out if we can be great with­out be­ing good. Kent Smith, Wal­dorf

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