I missed the connection with both readers and writers over the couple of weeks that this blog went dark, and am delighted that Sue sent this submission so soon after Monday’s post. As always, she writes with passion and clarity. I wish elected officials were willing to speak truth to power with as much wit and intelligence as she does.
The Wizard of Oz
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
I had a thought that the public should send their old Roget’s Thesaurus to the current President that he might look up a new word to replace hoax, or find a synonym for greatest—but that would require his willingness to learn. He does not peruse the daily briefing, nor does he study it or even allow someone to read it to him. Hence, he missed the fact that Russia is paying the Taliban to murder U.S. soldiers. Instead of shock and abhorrence for what Russia has done, he denies he received the information, since it didn’t rise to the level of Presidential concern. Even as this news spreads around the world, he has yet to respond.
The pandemic must not rise to the level of Presidential concern either, as he has not had an appropriate and effective response to the more than 130,000 deaths in our country. He claims that 99% of cases are totally harmless. Since the death rate so far is at 4.5%, and those who have been on ventilators and survive suffer life-changing side effects, maybe we should send math books as well.
To make his re-education complete, he will need a history lesson. Trump does not like that statues of those who championed slavery and fought against the Union have been torn asunder. He calls these haters heroes and the protestors thugs, and claims he will protect our “history” and “culture,” but it is too late. The barn door has been opened and the horses of right action are at last running free.
Bragg, Lee, and Columbus are all headed for the hinterlands. Mississippi has, finally, removed the Confederate flag and even NASCAR has banned it. The racists whose names adorned college buildings and towns are being relegated to history where they belong. Even the Pentagon wants to give bases a name change.
John Wayne, an old-time actor, spouted racist venom in the 70s, but they named an airport for him anyway. Lindbergh and Ford, often honored, held well-documented racist and anti-Semitic views. We have buried our heads in the sand for too long. We grew up with the sins of omission. We were taught that Washington never told a lie, he crossed the Delaware and wore false teeth, but we weren’t taught that he owned slaves. We were told Lindbergh made the first trans-Atlantic flight, but not that he was an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer who got a medal of honor from Hitler. Ford may have built cars, but he too thought Jews did not deserve to live.
We cannot change history, but we can, at long last, pull our head from the sand and right the endless lists of wrongs. We must teach our history as it happened, not as we wished it had been.
Trump again spouts America First as he did from the start of his tenure. It remains not a unifying slogan but a bitter comment from the worst of our history. Wilson and Calhoun used it; the Ku Klux Klan used it. Trump has taken the KKK logo with a swastika and an eagle, put the Stars and Stripes in the place where the swastika sat, and thinks no one sees.
This isn’t really about a lack of math skills, a knowledge of history or a good vocabulary, but a lack of heart and compassion. This man thinks only of what he wants and, right now, that is re-election at any cost. Pretend the pandemic is waning in the face of astronomical numbers, that the economy is healthy, that Russia hasn’t put a bounty on our GIs, and that the protests were all violent. The truth is that the vast majority of protests were peaceful and most importantly that most Americans and, I dare say, the world support an end to systemic racism.
Instead of pandering to the Grand Wizard of the KKK, perhaps Trump should visit the Wizard of Oz and see if he can find a brain, some courage, and the most needed item: a heart.