Oliver North, now head of the NRA, lied to Congress and destroyed government documents, for which he was convicted.
I’ve written on this topic before, but I’m not being repetitious mindlessly. I believe that every time the phenomenon I discuss here emerges we need to call it out lest it becomes—in the term du jour—normalized.
I’m talking about the Trumpian, right-wing hypocrisy, the shamelessness, that renders decent people breathless. For example, the recent election of Oliver North as the president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), whom President Trump describes as “great American patriots.” Let’s take a stroll down history lane.
Oliver North and Iran …
In the 1980s Iran was a hostile state, an avowed enemy of the United States. In 1979 Iranians took 52 Americans hostages and held them for 444 days. Then in 1985, the Iran-based group Hezbollah took seven Americans hostages in Lebanon. Severe sanctions were imposed on Iran by the U.S. and, specifically, the sales of arms to Iran was outlawed.
In 1985, during Ronald Reagan’s second presidential term, Lt. Colonel Oliver North was a National Security Council staff member. In blatant violation of U.S. policy, North engineered the secret sales of weapons to Iran. In contravention of the Boland Amendment passed by Congress, which prohibited providing funds to the Nicaragua “Contras,” who were waging guerrilla warfare against the democratically-elected Sandinista government, North secretly channeled the money from the Iranian arms sales to the “Contras.” To hide his actions, North lied to Congress and destroyed government documents, for which he was convicted. [Those convictions were later overturned on procedural technicalities.]
Selling arms to an enemy of our country and using the money from that sale to help overthrow a democratically-elected government in direct contravention of American law. Lying to Congress while under oath, destroying government documents that were evidence.
Where, pray tell, is the patriotism in these actions? In a world where ethics actually matter, would the person who committed these acts be hailed as a “patriot?” Would an organization that purports to be patriotic elevate this person to its highest office? I would venture to say most folks would answer “No.”
How about them Russians?
Did the Russians funnel $30 million to Trump’s presidential campaign via the NRA?
As I write this, it is being reported that the Russians funneled money to Trump’s presidential campaign via the NRA, who invested the unprecedented amount of $30 million to elect Trump. These reports are still being confirmed, but it is noteworthy that in 100% of the cases where credible news organizations such as the New York Times or the Washington Post have reported about some aspect of Trump’s campaign (e.g., ties to Russia) those reports were later confirmed by actual events. Thus, I have no doubt that the Russia-NRA-Trump dynamics will turn out to be true.
Russia is not a U.S. ally, and in fact some experts view Russia as a hostile state. And we know for an absolute fact that the Russians, in what was clearly a hostile act, interfered in the 2016 presidential election, with the intent of undermining our democratic electoral system. In light of this, would a “patriotic” American organization traffic with Russia? Again, I think most Americans would say “No.” But to Trump and his supporters, the NRA is a “patriotic” organization.
Republicans have lost their mooring …
Obviously, the Republican Party has totally lost its mooring. It has become a cult whose sole purpose is to protect Donald Trump, whose native language is lying and who vomits hate continuously—on the press, on Democrats, on members of his own Cabinet, on Republicans who express opinions not approved by him, on children survivors of mass shootings, on Mexicans and Muslims, and anyone else who does not bow and scrape to him. This, even as his wife Melania launched an anti-bullying campaign whose signature tenet is that people should be respectful of others and should not use social media such as Twitter to bully people. As one pundit quipped, “Has she met Donald Trump?”
With no sense of irony, MelaniaTrump has launched an anti-bullying campaign.
I’m old enough to remember a time when Republicans who held moderate to liberal views on domestic and cultural issues commanded national constituencies and were part of the party leadership. Some of these high-profile Republicans included New York Governor and U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and his brother Winthrop, Governor of Arkansas; Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer; Pennsylvania Senator Hugh Scott; Illinois Senator Charles H. Percy; Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield; New York Senator Jacob Javits, and Massachusetts Senator Edward W. Brooke, the nation’s first African-American U.S. Senator elected by popular vote. In the 1960s, Brooke was one of the major champions of civil rights and lobbied his Republican colleagues to support the Voting Rights Act, which the Democratic Southerners in Congress vehemently opposed.
These Republicans were very much pro-business but yet supported labor unions. They favored balanced budgets and did not hesitate to promote raising taxes in order to achieve them. And they viewed environmentalism, health care, and higher education as positive things. In contrast, today’s Republican Party has a single purpose: to defend and bolster Donald Trump and his agenda of hate, racism, xenophobia, and plain mean-spiritedness.
Veterans and evangelicals get into the Trump act ….
A Trump staffer said McCain’s opinion doesn’t matter “…because he’s dying anyway.”
The shameless hypocrisy fomented by the Trumpian political culture is not confined to the NRA and Oliver North. Consider Trump’s treatment of U.S. Senator John McCain. Among veterans—and millions of other Americans—McCain is considered a war hero. He was tortured for years in North Vietnam after his plane was shot down and famously refused to accept an early release unless the men he commanded were allowed to come out of the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” with him. Yet, McCain has been a constant target of Trump’s disparagement since early in the 2016 campaign season. Trump once said that McCain should not be considered a war hero “because he was captured.” And just this past week a Trump staffer cruelly mocked McCain, who is battling brain cancer, by saying that his opinion doesn’t matter “…because he’s dying anyway.” Trump’s deafening silence regarding this cruel and inhumane comment indicates he endorses it. If veterans and their organizations truly stand for veterans, they would condemn Trump’s (and his administration’s) disparagement of McCain. Yet veterans and veteran organizations continue to support and enable Trump.
Then there are the so-called evangelical Christians. Polls show that about 80% of the evangelicals in the U.S. support Trump. Evangelicals claim to focus on the “good news” of salvation, that is, love and peace enunciated by Jesus Christ. At its core, evangelical theology is built on the twin pillars of love—love God and love all humans, who are created in God’s image, as enunciated by Christ. When asked which was the greatest commandment, Jesus said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind … and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There are no other commandments greater than these.” (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28) Confession and redemption are bedrock Christian principles.
Trump routinely trashes and bullies anyone who disagrees with him.
Trump routinely trashes those and other Christian principles. He refuses to apologize for anything he says or does, no matter how egregious. He belittles people. He makes fun of disabled reporters. He foments hate against Muslims and Mexicans. He lies prodigiously. He describes the KKK, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists whose ideology is hate as “fine people.” Evangelicals preach loudly and vigorously—and raise tons of money doing it—against this kind of behavior among their flock. Yet, one of Trump’s most ardent support blocks are those who purport to be evangelical “Christians.”
I could go on, but you get the point. Democrats and Independents can’t curtail the hypocrisy. Only Republicans can. The decent Republicans need to get their party back by standing up to those who have hijacked their party. Practicing what they preach would be a good start. c/s
Copyright 2018 by Salomon Baldenegro. to contact Sal write: firstname.lastname@example.org All photos in the public domain.