March 21, 2017 at 1:36 pm EDT | by Richard J. Rosendall
The battle for America
secular freedoms, gay news, Washington Blade

A scene from the social thriller ‘Get Out.’ (Image courtesy Universal Pictures)

I feel these days like an unwilling passenger in a speeding car driven by a drunk. We cannot survive four years of this breakneck Trumpian recklessness. “Something’s going to blow,” says novelist Salman Rushdie. He fears a Kent State, where an antiwar protester in 1970 was killed by the Ohio National Guard. I fear both that and a new war.

But the driver is not drunk. He is crazy. He is attacking what makes our diverse population a nation. I am not talking about mere rhetoric. That framing implies “both sides” are equally at fault.

When a group of anti-gay ministers a decade ago fought efforts to enact civil marriage equality in D.C., they portrayed themselves as victims. That was false. They had no right to vote on their neighbors’ marital choices. We who fought for marriage equality were not telling them what to preach or whose wedding to consecrate. We were fighting for legal equality in the secular realm.

Trumpists who treat all Muslims as terrorists (while ignoring acts of domestic terror by members of groups like Army of God) are not defending against Shariah law; they are seeking supremacy for their own faith. Women fighting for healthcare choice do not try to control men’s bodies as men have done to them, except as satire. There has been no rash of hate crimes by gay men and trans women against straight men.

The current wave of intolerance is by people fighting against the loss of unmerited privilege. Scan the mainstream news. Whose churches are torched? Whose cemeteries are desecrated? Whose children are bullied? What graffiti is as frightening as a swastika? This is not a zero-sum game of white versus black, gay versus straight, or Christian versus “heathen.” Those are false binaries. Resisting Trump is properly a fight for E pluribus unum: “Out of many, we are one.”

Conservative Rod Dreher, who thinks Christianity is under assault by gay people and the sexual revolution, proposes what he dubs the Benedict Option, after the father of the monastic movement: creating self-isolated orthodox communities. It sounds almost benign to let people go off and do their own thing, like Henry David Thoreau. But what if we replace Christianist orthodoxy with Islamist orthodoxy? Would Christianist bullies tolerate Shariah-flavored Waldens? No. We cannot expect peace to result from enclaves of obscurantism springing up across the country like an American version of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory. Imagine seeing a thousand Scientology compounds bloom.

Dreher’s vision is a short leap from a real-life version of the “social thriller” created by director Jordan Peele in his witty film Get Out. Perhaps its dangers could be mitigated by apps that warn people away from certain areas. But America is a republic. Just as Lincoln said we could not endure half slave and half free, we cannot endure as a patchwork quilt where some places deny secular freedoms. The Bill of Rights is not optional.

Budgets have consequences. Decimating the State Department will make deadly miscalculations more likely. Slashing health funding, like that for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Program, will make us more vulnerable to pandemics. Rolling back environmental protections will poison our air, water, and land. Taking away healthcare, home heating assistance, and Meals on Wheels from the most vulnerable will kill more Americans than ISIS ever could. Cutting foreign humanitarian assistance as famine looms will starve children and destroy goodwill.

America’s Founders concluded the Declaration, “[W]e mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Honor: if we have any left, if we know what it means, if we see what is happening, then we must act. It is time to stop hoping for the best and start fighting for our country. We must dog every step of this crass, ignorant, unstable man and his band of vandals.

The Founders are long gone. It is our turn to stand and deliver. America’s true greatness is rooted in the pluralism under attack. Trump’s mayhem will bring a backlash. When it comes, we must choose reconciliation over revenge with those he deceived and betrayed. We will have much rebuilding to do. Our vital shared ground, our republic, will remain at stake.


Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

  • And just how again do we go about “Resisting Trump”, Richard J. Rosendall? Just, you know, put to good use America’s “pluribus … pluralism … vital shared ground, our republic” – and, wouldn’t you know it? – that’ll “dog every step of this crass, ignorant, unstable man and his band of vandals”?! Speaking out of personal experience, I suppose. Like when voting time came on November 8, 2016, you mean? Hey, you’re right, for I witnessed that, too, of America’s “pluribus … pluralism … vital shared ground, our republic” in action and in full force – yaay! – so Hillary R. Clinton can reclaim the White House! “Out of many, we (were) one” for her on that night of victory, and we sure showed her our political worth, didn’t we? I see now your point and it’s worth considering, that if this brilliant idea of yours worked that 1st time, surely it’ll work this 2nd time around. I mean, it better, right? Because, otherwise: “We cannot survive four years of this breakneck Trumpian recklessness.”

    • Did you actually compose that, or did you use a sarcasm generator? The election was effectively stolen through a combination of vote suppression, a well-funded smear campaign, and interference by the FBI, Russia, and Wikileaks. Nevertheless, the winning candidate got fewer votes and appears to be slowly imploding. The resistance takes many forms, from contacting legislators to fundraising to recruiting candidates. One thing I have done is recruit younger activists to lead my local activist group. Recently I have been lobbying against a congressionally-imposed school voucher bill, preparing testimony on the police chief nominee, helping plan a fundraiser, and mentoring younger activists. I also have a biweekly opinion column. If you are eager to have us do something useful, surely you can offer something better than sarsasm.

      • Apologies, Rick Rosendall. Most anti-Trump news writers and commentators these days are in a state of denial that Trump actually won democratically, right or wrong, but still democratically. He knew how to play the system better than Hillary – I mean getting 81% of white Protestant Evangelicals plus the alt-right to vote for him, isn’t that a genius mind at work? That’s Steve Bannon for you; fascinating! Or have you not been to AlterNet, Raw Story, Mediaite, The Real News Network lately? Or on the progressive religious side, Sojourners, Religion News Service, Religion & Politics, Religion Dispatches? Why can’t the American Left be cool & collected, wise up & regroup, like those at Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, The Intercept? Come on! – I’m saying, come up with a viable solution come the next election cycle. None of this (again just saying, not to attack you or anything like that, trust me) “Out of many, we are one” stuff, but something politically, economically, socially, morally, even religiously viable so as to defeat GOP 4 years from now. Start, however, by reforming DNC – even The Young Turks recognize that. Otherwise you’ll be lamenting this again 4 years from now, “We cannot survive four years of this breakneck Trumpian recklessness.” All the best, my friend.

        • Trump did not win legitimately, for reasons I already summarized. And he daily proves himself unfit by temperament, preparation, experience, judgment, and character. And how many times have we heard “the people decided”? I should not have to point out my awareness of the rules, but the fact that the Electoral College decides does not change the popular vote totals. If it doesn’t matter that he’s not the people’s choice, then why the reluctance to admit it? Why the invocation of the people’s choice, which for example was McConnell’s rationale for stealing a SCOTUS seat? A lot of people ARE organizing for 2018 and beyond. But rallying cries are also needed, as are truth telling and analysis. So many lies are flying around these days, and the signal-to-noise ratio is so low, it is necessary for us to remind ourselves of what we are fighting for as well as to question ourselves. All of which cannot be done in one 700-word piece. This is an ongoing exploration. If you want to lecture leftists, then talk to someone who identifies as one. I never have. I was just attacked by some leftists on an unrelated matter this morning. There are lots of people with lots of roles to play. I am not a campaign manager, nor am I identified as one. If you don’t think what I do is of value, that is a reality of the marketplace. My opinions and writing were sought, and I have striven regularly to give good value with thoughtful and informed political essays. It is a quirk of this medium and of social dynamics that few of those who like my work, whom I hear from in public places, post comments. I generally have to approach people for critiques; online comments tend to be put-downs. Incidentally, you call me friend but I have no idea who you are.

          • This is what I mean by state of denial; here, as an activist, you, Rick Rosendall, still insist on talking politics at this level of reality-check – “the fact that the Electoral College decides does not change the popular vote totals”. When you should already be acknowledging that the country’s split 50 50, according to these 2 recent polls: (1) “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday (March 17, 2017) shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty-two percent (52%) disapprove.” (2) “the POLITICO/Morning Consult survey also shows more positive opinions of the job Trump is doing as president. In the new poll, 52 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while more than the 43 percent disapprove.” (Politico, March 15, 2017)

            About that – that “I was just attacked by some leftists” – I thought you were one of them, actually. Left, progressives, LGBTQ advocates – I tend to lump them all together, my bad. Kinda like what you said, though, about the “Out of many, we are one” idea. So I wasn’t over-assuming there, was I?

            Anyway, I’m a nobody, just a news buff, I guess. I like to read and comment on articles dealing with the Trump Era phenomenon, more from the religious angle (from both the right and the left), but I get tempted once in a while to get political, as that too was my passion (coming from the left and now picking on the right’s brain). Those sites I mentioned are where I hang out online; and then some. They’ve dealt with things of interest to LGBTQ communities and I’ve had my comments on them posted as well. In short, it’s because you dealt with this Trump Era phenomenon that I visited Washington Blade but only for your article, which happened to touch on both the truly fascinating religious and political aspects of that phenomenon.

          • Rasmussen is one of the least respected polls.

            No, lumping people together is not the same as E pluribus unum. The latter is about unity in our diversity, not homogenizing everyone. The former is confusing people’s differences.

            I appreciate your interest.

          • POLITICO/Morning Consult more respectable, true. Yet and yet they report 52% of Americans approve Trump. Politico is as liberal NYT & WaPo – liars too to you? State of denial not good for activism.

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