Recently, a young friend visiting from Europe asked what I am proud of and love about America.
The United States, I began, is the oldest constitutional republic, possibly in history. I spoke about American ingenuity, innovation, can-do entrepreneurial spirit, great feats and accomplishments such as the lunar landing. It was America, grudgingly led into World War II by Franklin D. Roosevelt, that saved the world from Hitler and stood steadfast against the Soviet communist empire. The list continued.
I ventured into areas of which I’m not proud. Ethnic cleansing of native peoples. Slavery. Factory workers’ and miners’ serfdom and the squalid conditions they endured. Repression and marginalization of minorities and immigrants. Ever-expanding income and wealth gaps. Environmental degradation. The list continued.
On the whole though, I argued, Themis’s scale of justice tilts in favor of good America.
If so, my friend challenged me, why does half of Americans support our current POTUS? I pushed back, arguing the majority does not and cited polls as evidence.
Later, I reflected on his point, given the POTUS’s vile behaviors, mean-spirited policies, and contempt for the rule of law. Then, two news stories broke.
E. Jean Carroll became the sixteenth woman to accuse him of sexual assault. As per usual, he attacked, claiming he never met her despite photographic evidence proving he did. As per usual, Republican sycophants genuflected.
In response, Carroll told CNN, “With all the women it’s the same: He denies it, he turns it around, he attacks, and he threatens — and then everybody forgets it until the next woman comes along. I am sick of it. I am sick of it.”
The other story: The wretched conditions of immigrant children being held in caged holding centers.
New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner spoke with Willamette University law professor Warren Binford, who witnessed the atrocity firsthand.
“Children described to us that they’ve been there for three weeks or longer,” Binford said. “They were filthy dirty, there was mucus on their shirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts. There was food on the shirts, and the pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them described that they only brushed their teeth once.”
Binford said many reported sleeping on the concrete floor with only harsh wool-type army blankets to sleep on and keep warm with. Some described being given just one blanket and having to decide whether to put it under for minimal comfort or over for warmth.
In defense, as if child abuse can be justified, the POTUS claimed the Obama Administration began the policy of separating children from their parents, a claim PolitiFact rates “False.”
His flippant comment about Carroll’s allegation—“She’s not my type.”—showed not only a crass locker-room condescension for all women, seeing them simply as objects for gratification, it also implied that if she were “his type,” he’d admit guilt.
The world is watching and questioning if issues such as these reflect our values.
Our 243rd birthday should be a day to celebrate America’s legacy and greatness. It still is. But it is also a time to take umbrage at the perversion of American values by making it unequivocally clear that the POTUS is not our type.
Prescient quote: “This place has enough creepy old men.” Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ.)
Go figure: In Gore v. Bush, the Supreme Court deemed it had authority to intervene in Florida’s electoral process. Nineteen years later, the SCOTUS has declared it has no authority to intervene in states’ election processes by refusing to declare gerrymandering inherently unconstitutional.