My Turn: Trump is leader without moral values


  • President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. AP PHOTO

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists thanked President Trump for his brave and kind words after the tragedies in Charlottesville, people who believe strongly in the goal of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” have fled from connections with him. His recent statements have again shown his true colors: President Trump is a man who holds no belief system beyond adding to his own personal wealth or political support. He is unique among presidents because he would be classified as a “none” — a person who checks the “none” box when asked about current membership in an organized church.

He has repeatedly proven his disregard for many widely accepted American values. One example is respect for military service. While he has bragged about having “so many generals” behind him and stood before active and retired service members and paid lip service to their courage and sacrifice, he has shown that he only respects veterans who support him politically. He demeaned Sen. John McCain’s war record because he was captured after being shot down over Vietnam, and belittled the Khan family whose son was killed in Iraq after they publicly showed their opposition. His respect is not for all who served, but only for those who served and support him.

Another example is his lack of respect for the U.S. Constitution and federal and state laws. He fired FBI Director James Comey after he refused to pledge his loyalty to the president. The FBI oath specifically states that the Director must “support and defend the Constitution” regardless of what individual or party holds power. A recent FBI official publication goes on to note that “A government based on individuals — who are inconsistent, fallible, and often prone to error — too easily leads to tyranny on the one extreme or anarchy on the other.”

If Trump’s actions are a result of his ignorance of the FBI and the powers and limitations of the presidency, then they show an even greater lack of respect for our government. He has neglected or refused to learn about the institutions he is supposed to lead.

His lack of involvement in promoting workable health-care reform, other than to demand a “win” from the Senate to back up Republican promises, shows a clear lack of empathy for anyone less fortunate than himself. He has callously suggested that he may simply let the health care system “fail” or even hasten the chaos of its failure through executive orders. For anyone facing loss of coverage or huge increases in premiums, his approach simply adds more suffering to the lives of people he calls “victims of Obamacare.”

His disdain for the truth has been apparent since his early reliance on “alternative facts” to claim the largest inaugural crowd ever. In the recent rallies orchestrated to make him feel loved, he continues to make misleading and false statements about job growth, among many other things.

How about respect for women as equal partners in a work and social environment? Nothing can erase his candid words in the made-for-TV moment about his ability to grope women if he chose because of his status as a rich and powerful man.

But I hope his recent words on race and protest have finally tipped the scales for the powerful majority in our country. It is probably true that there were a few well-intentioned right-wing protesters in Charlottesville, and also that a few counter-protesters reacted poorly in response to what they saw and heard. But those are minute details in comparison to the larger picture that Trump’s words tried to hide. The original rally in Charlottesville was intended to show the power of white supremacists and neo-Nazis and to legitimize their cause.

I see his words as tantamount to treason by providing “aid and comfort” to an enemy. That enemy is racial and religious hatred and division. It is not just my enemy, or the enemy of Democrats, or of Northern liberals, Hillary-supporters, or gun opponents. The ideas supported by the original rally in Charlottesville are the enemy of America in all its facets — the military and business community, our educational and social institutions, all of our varied religions, all of our inclusive and shared humanity. The original protest was intended to create and solidify hate and divisions among people, and President Trump could not stick with a simple, consistent condemnation of it.

Use of the words “moral” and “immoral” is a tricky business since throughout history “morality” has often been used as a weapon against such things as racially-mixed marriages and homosexual behavior. A person like President Trump could be termed “amoral” since he doesn’t seem attached to a set of traditional moral values.

But the problem is that an amoral approach allows ideas and behaviors that I consider immoral to live and flourish. An old cliché is appropriate: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” President Trump’s words and behavior have not been part of any solution to the deep divisions within our country, which means that he is a large part of the problem.

Strong counter–protests like those in Greenfield, Northampton, Boston, and other cities send a clear message: spreading hate is not an accepted part of the American political process. I hope that Congress follows up with a vote for censure, stating clearly that his response to the tragedies in Charlottesville is not acceptable to the elected representatives of the American people. It could be a start to President Trump accepting the fact that he is just not suited for the job.

Allen Woods is a freelance writer and author living in Greenfield. Comments are welcome at his website, www.theswordandscabbard.com,
or at: awoods2846@gmail.com.