To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, November 29, 2020

New Observercast

Hateful Rhetoric Has No Place In A Civil Society

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BY MARSHALL ANDREW GLENN

It is my hope those still “on the fence” about Donald Trump’s leadership will finally understand that he is appealing to a small but exceedingly dangerous audience of otherwise rationally-minded people [irrespective of political party] whose troubled thinking – which typically lies dormant like potential viruses which mutate and spawn pandemics – can sweep through our country and wreak havoc in its wake.

This not an indictment of the majority of supporters of Mr. Trump, but rather to the hate groups and rogue individuals who have been embolden by his incendiary rhetoric.

The values and virtues of conservatism, the party of Lincoln and Reagan, have been undermined by Mr. Trump’s leadership. His leadership has changed the identity of the Republican Party.

As citizens, we are becoming more imperiled to be able to move freely around our society without the even greater threat of harm, and the places we considered safe are no longer safe or sacrosanct, even schools, churches, courts, or our live concerts.

Pause for a moment and realize that America – the “land of the free and home of the brave” – is becoming more militarized like Israel, where the presence of armed militia has become normalized into the fabric of its society. The continued militarization of society is the only remedy supported and advanced by the NRA [re: Mr. Trump’s response that a synagogue should have armed security as the ultimate prophylactic].

The consequence of President Trump’s policies is the sanctioning of sectionalism stamped upon democracy. Implicit in these policies is the we-they bifurcation that suggests some belong, others do not.

It is the antithesis of one of our most cherished American virtues – E Pluribus Unum– out of MANY, ONE – the motto of the United States of America, engraved on our coins as a reminder.

It is doubtful Ronald Reagan, one of the GOP’s most venerated Republican leaders, could get elected today. I can imagine him in heaven, with tears in his eyes, pleading, “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall of HATE!”

May we remind ourselves of President Regan’s speech on Nov. 3, 1980:

“I have quoted John Winthrop’s words more than once on the campaign trail for I believe that Americans in 1980 are every bit as committed to that vision of a shining ‘city on a hill,’ as were those long-ago settlers … These visitors to that city on the Potomac do not come as white or black, red or yellow; they are not Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals, or Democrats or Republicans. They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still … a shining city on a hill.”

Our city on a hill shines by the light of the virtues of civility, not by the torching of hateful speech.

There are those in positions of leadership who are advancing a policy of governance by inciting fear and threat that the U.S. government will confiscate a citizens’ firearms. It is at best an immodest and disingenuous accusation.

Rather, if you examine history, what leads to the confiscation of freedoms like the rights of gun ownership is – pause, swallow, the lightbulb goes on in the cerebral cortex – nationalism and authoritarianism.

We are living in a time where our free press is vilified by Mr. Trump unless it satisfies his ego. This is not a lame rejoinder. History is replete with examples and the rise of the Third Reich is one of many.

Our society will always have the mentally disturbed, the hate-filled, paranoid, xenophobic, the conspiracy-minded regardless of political affiliation who think there is an enemy around every turn. But the light of our virtues of democracy is the therapeutic antiseptic that keeps the threat of hate dormant and in check.

But that is only accomplished when our leadership stands up and helps inoculate our society by espousing our virtues, not by appealing to the lowest common denominator of our base limbic system, of an inflamed, irrational and reflexive amygdala.

May we collectively not give voice to this usually latent, subterranean virus.

The Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, elucidated the complex facets of the human condition in his writings. He once wrote: “Beauty will save the world.”

There is nothing beautiful, redeeming or worth supporting in the leadership of those who inspire division and hate. Remember, the mark of leadership is what Abraham Lincoln took from Psalms 147:3 and mentioned in his second inaugural speech ” … to bind up our nation’s wounds … ”

May our love for one another take center stage and allow us to save ourselves from the consequences of inciting hate and violence regardless of persons or parties who take pleasure in dividing us rather than uniting us.

I find virtues in the leadership of both political parties. I look for the “we” – the covariance of the virtues found in both parties – that open debate brings forth and lead to compromise.

Compromise is not surrender. Compromise is the product of the proper exercise of democracy.

Marshall Andrew Glenn, PhD, is a retired professor who dedicated 40 years of service to children as a school psychologist and as a licensed mental health professional