If you swim in the sewer…
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Enrique Morones of the San Diego-based group Border Angels said it clearly and unequivocally on national television (CNN): Donald Trump is evil. He is evil in what he himself does. What he has inspired is evil. The culture of hate he has normalized is evil.
Dimensions of evil
I do not use the term “evil” lightly. The popular notion of “evil” is something that is thoroughly bad, with no redeeming qualities. Research into the concept of “evil” as perceived by philosophers and theologians reveals that evil is usually defined as something that is morally wrong, sinful, or wicked. But evil can also refer to anything that causes harm, without necessarily putting it in moral terms. The word is used both ways in the Bible.
Christian philosopher (and professor of Theology) J. P. Moreland posits that evil is a lack of goodness, that it is goodness spoiled. Christian apologetic Greg Koukl also posits that what we call evil is the lack of goodness in human acts. [Christian apologetics is the discipline that seeks to build bridges to unbelievers by presenting reasons and evidence that Christianity is worthy of belief.]
All the above definitions apply to what Trump and his enablers and those he has emboldened are doing and promoting. To discuss the depth and breadth of Trump’s and his allies’ evil is a book-length project, way beyond the scope of a single article. And also, it is very depressing, even for an unabashed optimist such as my good self. Thus, only a sampling of this evil is presented here.
As you read the following, keep in mind the dimensions of evil noted above: something that is thoroughly bad, with no redeeming qualities … something that is morally wrong, sinful, or wicked … anything that causes harm … lack of goodness in human acts.
A nursing baby is a gangster?
What needs no elaboration in that it is all over the news is the disgraceful, evil-incarnate Trump policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexican border. Some of these children cannot even talk or walk yet and some, months old, were being breastfed. That there was no system to associate parents and children (i.e., ascertaining which parents and children belonged together) is not a manifestation of incompetence. It was purposeful. There was never any intent of reuniting the families. It doesn’t require many words to detail how inhumane it is to forcibly take children from their parents with no plan to reunite them. No other word but evil describes the Trump policy.
Just when it seemed Trump and his cult followers couldn’t go any lower, they did. Compounding the evilness of Trump’s attack on families and children is the sick, depraved attempt to score political points by depicting the children—a breastfeeding 3-month-old, six- and seven-year-olds—as murdering gangsters. Trump cultists appear on television defending Trump’s evilness by claiming that his “zero tolerance” policy is keeping MS-13 gang members out of the U.S. A right-wing Republican television ad running in Arizona uses images of menacing looking men with tattoos on their arms, neck, face, and head—ostensibly MS-13 members. The voiceover claims that these menacing-looking men are the ones targeted and being incarcerated by Trump’s policy. The ad is to encourage Arizona Congressmembers Martha McSally and David Schweikert to continue supporting Trump and to vote to fund “the wall.” McSally and Schweikert are complicit with regard to this ad. They both know that MS-13 members are not the “children” being incarcerated per Trump’s policy. But because they stand to gain politically from this ad based on an outright lie, they remain silent and do not denounce the ad. Evil.
Not that facts matter to Trump and his cultists, but the well-known and documented fact is that MS-13 is not a Mexican or Central American gang that sends members to the U.S. MS-13 is an American gang, founded in Los Angeles, in the 1980s. Also well documented is the fact that MS-13 exports members to Central America rather than vice versa. Trump’s assertions that his inhumane policy is keeping MS-13 members from coming into the U.S. is an outright fraud. The sole purpose of Trump’s and his cultists’ MS-13 lie is to use fear to engender hate toward brown people, particularly people of Mexican descent. Evil.
The Trump hate campaign is working
Unfortunately, the Trump hate campaign is working. Documenting Hate, a national coalition of news organizations that tracks incidences of bias in public spaces and hate crimes around the country, has documented many reports of verbal assaults for speaking Spanish since the 2016 Presidential election. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a Civil rights group, reports that there were at least 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation right after the 2016 election. Just over the last few weeks there have been scores of reports about police being called on black people for the “crime” of being black. Two men waiting for a friend at a Starbucks. A political candidate canvassing her district. An apartment complex resident using the swimming pool. A young man mowing a lawn. There are many more of these examples.
But the culture of hate nurtured by Trump and those he has emboldened go beyond verbal attacks and calling the police. In Willowbrook, California, a group of people beat a 91-year-old man with a brick and repeatedly kicked him in the head as they yelled “Go back to Mexico!” This kind of evil was inevitable. After all, Trump launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and he encouraged his supporters to physically attack people who weren’t part of his campaign, promising to pay their legal bills if they were arrested or sued. And Trump considers white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and KKK members to be “fine people.” He pardoned the most racist sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio, who on national television boasted that he was “honored” to be compared to the KKK.
I could go on, but the above make the point: Trump and his cultists wallow in hate and racism, in evil.
Who doesn’t protest evil is complicit in it…
As Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, those who passively accept evil, who do not stand up to evil, are cooperating with evil. At first, most people were willing to give Trump supporters, especially the Democrats from the decisive midwestern states, the benefit of the doubt. The line was that these folks didn’t really subscribe to Trump’s racist views or other extreme positions, that they had voted for Trump because they were mad at the Democrats, i.e., Hillary Clinton, for not campaigning in their area. Or because Trump promised (falsely, as it has turned out) to bring back coal-mining jobs whereas Hillary Clinton outright said she would put coal miners out of business. And so on.
But we can no longer in good conscience give these folks the benefit of the doubt. Trump’s meanness, his racism, his complete lack of empathy for people who are suffering, his narcissism, his addiction to lying, his disdain for women, his support for and admiration of dictators who murder political opponents, his establishment of a cult in which loyalty is one-directional (to Trump), etc., is too blatant, making it impossible for people to make excuses. It’s evident that those who support Trump buy into his hate, his racism, his lying, his meanness and evilness.
The Republican Party has surrendered its principles, its values, to the Trump cult of evil. When it comes to Trump, all the Republicans in Congress combined cannot put together one backbone (with the exception of the handful of Republicans who are leaving Congress and John McCain, who is ill and probably will not run again, and once in a while, Susan Collins and Lisa Murskowski). Their constituents be damned! They don’t want Trump to say bad things about them on twitter. All they lack are the saffron robes and bells and tambourines so they can dance at airports like the Moonies of the 1970s.
In the street vernacular: when you swim in the sewer you will wind up smelling like … well, you know what. Because you are so immersed in it you may not notice the stench, but people around you do. c/s
Copyright 2018 by Salomon Baldenegro. To contact Sal write: firstname.lastname@example.org Promotional photo of Martha McSally used under the “fair use” proviso of the copyright law. All other photos in the public domain.