GOTTA LAUGH TO KEEP FROM CRYING
AWASH IN A SEA OF HYPOCRISY
Cradled in the midst of all that is wrong with Trump and his silent and venal Republican accomplices is more hypocrisy than one essay could ever capture. But I am going try. To hit the ground running, racism is a good place to start.
I haven’t found anyone who claims to be both a racist and a Republican, including Trump. Yet, as each slimy racist word dribbles from the lips of the self-proclaimed “chosen one,”* the collective silence is deafening. Worse yet is the acolyte circumlocution that follows each Trump verbal racist assault. The one I like best is: “He (Trump) is saying what many other people are thinking.” But if none of the people who think like racists self-identify as racists, where does that leave those who think like Trump. Sure sounds like racists to me.
Next up, how about that Trump “chosen one” comment itself.* Although embedded in some nonsense about China, it should have made even the most hypocritical among the hyper-Christian community wince. It sure seems to be pushing that blasphemy line that evangelicals say cannot be crossed. Yet the silence from the religious right is as deafening as the silence of the racists. And now that we have a self-proclaimed “chosen one” in place, what better way to memorialize that stature than another prayer breakfast to kiss the golden (orange) dome of the second coming. Just to ensure that we wring all the hypocrisy out of the moment that we can, I suggest bagels, lox, and cream cheese as the menu du jour.
While we are at it, I am challenging readers to find photo evidence that Trump ever attended a Saturday or Sunday service anywhere before 2015. Weddings, funerals, various mitzvahs, and the like don’t count.
While the Christians can reach extraordinary heights of hypocrisy in service to Trump, it appears that some Jewish people are trying to keep up. Just after I was born a Jew, my number one concern was seeking to avoid circumcision, which even to my then barely-formed mind seemed like a really bad idea. I was overruled by what appeared to be a group attached to a religious faith that honored this ritual mutilation. Thus began my steady but consistent journey on a different spiritual path.
While this early personal drama was playing out, there was no state of Israel that might have garnered the loyalty of those seeking my circumcision. Instead it was all about following some ancient ritual that seemed to captivate the Jewish conscience. Today, the conscience of many Jews in America seems, at the least, to take a rest where Israel is concerned. From my perspective, this is not a question of “loyalty” to anything. It is a question of conscience.
Enter Trump, his “love” of Israel, his corrupt embrace of its present leader, and his disgust that all of his pandering isn’t causing enough Jews to vote for him. So, he takes a dive into the Jewish conscience to impose a new “loyalty” test for Jews - if you are Jewish and don’t support him and his draconian policies, you must be disloyal to both Israel and the Jewish people at large.** It becomes even more of a sin if you don’t support Israel’s draconian policies.
What a Rubik's Cube of hypocrisy unfolds in this moral morass. It is so profound that it leaves some Jews, most evangelicals, many regular Christians, Trump, and the anti-Semitic wing of the Republican Party swimming together in the same hypocritical pool with no easy exit to dry land. To be candid, I am enjoying the spectacle. Trump’s addition to the “America First” playbook of a loyalty oath for some Americans that includes loyalty to another country is rich indeed. Just think about that for a minute.
Now on to helpless children, where hypocrisy provides the backdrop for human cruelty. In America, “family values” is a pathetic code for right-wing extremist views of everything from abortion to gay rights to civil rights, designed to mask the hypocrisy at its core. With the flag of “family values” leading the parade, most Republicans, evangelicals, hard-core Christians, and Jews “loyal” to Israel seem to join the rest of us in caring deeply about our own children. But that isn’t a response to much of a moral challenge.
The challenge seems to arise when lessons we learn about caring for our own children are to be extended to the children of others, some of whom don’t look like us. This is a challenge familiar to mother bears that seem to care a lot about their own children, while showing little to no interest in the children of other bears or other animals.
To put it bluntly, I am suggesting that the crowd of “family values” Trump supporters looks a lot like moral bears to me. Don’t get between me, my kids, and Jesus, but if you want to slay a helpless baby rabbit, go for it. In my moral universe, poor and frightened immigrant children, hungry inner city and rural kids, and children living under hostile occupation share way too much in common with baby rabbits in this allegory.
What, in fact, could be more hypocritical than to profess deeply-held faith-based values that seek to protect the sanctity of one’s own children (and fetuses and embryos in every corner of the land), but find no compassion for the children of others held in literal and figurative cages? What recognizable moral compass guides many of these zealots to often care more about baby rabbits than baby black and brown people?
If you find yourself still pondering about bears and baby rabbits, let’s journey to another epicenter of hypocrisy – the “thoughts and prayers” that flow like holy water from the mouths of gun nuts every time a different gun nut shoots up a school, a shopping mall, or a place of worship. I am all in for the collective power of thoughts and prayers to ease the pain of brown spots on one’s lawn, a shattered bottle of good booze, a cellphone dropped in the toilet, and the like. However, it is apparent that all the thoughts and prayers that can be mustered is no match for the 393 million guns in civilian hands in the United States.***
So instead of the smokescreen of caring that emanates from those thoughts and prayers for the dead and dying, how about taking a moment to reflect on the underlying cause of all that misery that gun nuts seek to pray away. It is 393 million firearms, each of which poses a threat to someone else and some of which are readily available to the truly deranged.
On your way to K-Mart to buy a bullet proof backpack for your child, take a moment to ponder the twisted logic of those who advocate for unfettered gun rights as a constitutional imperative (2nd Amendment) while at the same time seeking to limit the reach of the rights of all citizens to life, liberty and the equal protection of the laws guaranteed in that same Constitution (14th Amendment). ****
And then, if you still can’t change your gun-nut mind about guns, reach out with those thoughts and prayers to a fellow gun nut after the gun he bought to “protect” himself is left lying around and his five-year-old blows away his three- year-old.