The United States has always stood as a beacon of freedom, hope and compassion in an often hard, cruel world. Driven by generations of improving fortunes, Americans have been willing to embrace this role in the world with pride.
As schoolchildren, we proudly read poet Emma Lazarus proclaiming our invitation to the huddled masses. With joy, we rebuilt Europe and Japan after World War II. Our presidents have regularly insisted that human rights be a consideration in our international dealings.
There have been missteps, of course, but to the world the U.S. had a special place and role to lead the global community to be better and more humane. The term “Leader of the Free World” had a real meaning, and as individuals we internalized that concept as part of who we were.
In the past 18 months, we have seen our special role destroyed. Our government has reached out with admiration to murderous dictators, shown disdain for organizations intended to protect democracy, and attacked other free nations verbally and with trade wars.
Mr. Trump’s bizarre behavior at the G7 summit in June was a disgrace. His clownishness is embarrassing. He followed that up with a photo-op summit with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, made concessions, and got nothing in return. So much for the art of the deal. Mr. Kim is claiming a great victory over the U.S. We essentially made a man who has killed his own brother and uncle into a legitimate international political entity.
The Christian apostle Paul was recently quoted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify tearing crying infants from their mothers. Romans 13 has been cited by Nazi sympathizers, slave owners and loyalists opposed to the American Revolution as a biblical rationale to support the government even when immoral.
What could be more un-American than ripping a 4-month-old infant away from his mother to dissuade others from crossing the border?
Mr. Trump is disingenuous to accuse the Democrats for this brutal action. He has simply chosen to interpret the law in a cruel manner to create a bargaining chip in his fight for a wall along the Mexican border. To punish a child so cruelly for political gain is impossible to defend.
Oh, and let’s not forget the constant attacks on the free press, the Justice Department, and the FBI. These are all pillars of our democracy. Certainly the FBI had a few issues in personnel behavior surrounding the Clinton email scandal. But to suggest they represent a vast conspiracy to attack the president is ludicrous. The Office of Inspector General report says exactly that. Bad behavior? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
I could go on and on. The bottom line is that with the growth of an economically failing Middle America, we have elected a government that cultivates the masses by using populist rhetoric without regard to long-term damage to the nation. Mencken said it well with, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Our government is appealing to those that believe the answers are simple. Unfortunately, they are also wrong. We have a basic moral imperative to speak up for the children, immigrants, and the other “huddled masses” of our world.
Scott Rifkin, MD, Publisher