America’s executive branch these days appears hell-bent on flashing our national greatness with an orgy of military spending, bombing civilians, abandoning allies, fetishizing fossil fuels, obsessing over women’s reproductive choices, and panicking over the prospect of transgender people using the bathroom. For an encore, they’re adding grand larceny.
The late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa said forty years ago of the Panama Canal, “We stole it fair and square.” A similar attitude prevails in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding the Supreme Court seat that should rightfully be occupied by Merrick Garland. That it will almost certainly go to Neil Gorsuch of Hobby Lobby fame is due to our recent stolen election and an 8-year campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama because he was a Democrat.
The normalizing of this theft by much of the commentariat is nearly complete as I write this, despite the commendably staunch opposition of Sen. Chuck Schumer. The galling ambivalence of Sen. Claire McCaskill, who eventually said she would oppose Gorsuch, only highlighted the farce in which the nominee touted his respect for precedent, which no one believed. Lectures of Democrats by various high-minded persons only obfuscate the fact that a seat on our highest court is being stolen, and the court’s legitimacy along with it. Gorsuch received consideration never given to Judge Garland, and a filibuster is the only remedy.
That the Birther-in-Chief and his party in thrall to Christianist bullying and white nationalism are poised for a win will be an indelible stain on our Constitution and a slash to the gut of our republic by the political nihilist who runs the Senate. The suggestion that we should forget it and move on is an anthem to thuggery that those devoted to justice must resist. Gorsuch will never be clean of the treachery by which he is being installed.
Having made myself clear, I will mention another example of toxic Republicanism. LGBT advocates’ demand to be counted in the census has been denounced by the president of Log Cabin Republicans as violating people’s privacy by requiring them to out themselves. Gregory Angelo acts as if adding a simple census question were akin to a televised public interrogation.
Log Cabin’s defense of LGBT invisibility is a vain effort by a group craving political relevance to ingratiate itself with a party that insists on treating anti-discrimination laws as attacks on religious freedom. To render us legally erasable is to attack the public square in which diverse people coexist by mutual accommodation. Angelo’s obeisance to a party that despises him will avail him nothing.
The farthest-right members of the House of Representatives were elected to be intransigent. When they are not lobbing missiles at fellow Republicans, they are blaming Democrats. Their unreadiness for governing is poorly concealed by partisan deflection. They have degenerated into a Coalition of No, good only at fomenting discord.
One thing Trump and his team do routinely is use Kremlin propaganda techniques like “alternative facts,” gaslighting, and Orwellian newspeak. For all the diversionary Republican howls about McCarthyism, you would never know the USSR had dissolved decades ago, judging by the recent spate of unfortunate demises met by critics of Mr. Putin. The Trumpists are a national wrecking crew regardless of whether they formally colluded with the Russians.
Horrifying news emerged last week from Chechnya, where more than 100 gay men have been detained by authorities and many extrajudicial killings are suspected. It is a short step from wanting gay people invisible to wanting us dead. A Chechen government spokesman actually denied that there are any gay people in Chechnya.
Anyone who pretends that intolerant rhetoric here in America is unrelated to the spike in hate crimes should tell that to the friends of murdered Muslims and trans people.
In 1961, poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote a powerful protest against the Ukranian government’s refusal to erect a monument to the tens of thousands of Jews massacred by Nazis in a ravine in Kiev. He began, “Over Babi Yar there are no monuments. The steep precipice is like a crude gravestone.” He died on April 1 at age 84.
One voice can make a difference. Raise yours because you can, for those who cannot.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.