Democracy USA Style

It has been a difficult week.  I’m reminded of the adage that those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Visions of oppressive regimes pop into my head.

Chants at a North Carolina Trump Rally echoed the racism of yesterday. “Send her back! Send her back!” It was not a surprising chant, given the presidents own tweets in previous days that the four new Democratic congresswomen should go back where they came from. He was apparently oblivious to the fact that three of the four were born in the USA. By the Wednesday rally though, he was focusing on Rep Ilhan Omar. Her roots in war torn Somalia and life in a refugee camp have shaped her world view. Who would have more sympathy for people seeking refuge in our nation than a person who has lived through the violence which causes a person to flee? Racism often cowers in “send them back” or “go back where you came from” language.

What frightens me most is that words and chants can lead to violence. Already, the four congresswomen have needed added security since Trump’s tweets. Targeting Rep. Omar has led to increased death threats on her life. And if you demonize these four elected leaders of color, does it give disturbed people additional reason and permission  to target  minorities? A president ought to be about uniting the country with a common vision for good, instead of demonizing people who disagree with him.

What Trump misses in this experiment called the United States of America is that the  right of dissent is built into our DNA. It’s called democracy USA style. We cherish the free press, freedom of religion,  freedom of speech and the right to dissent. The first amendment explicitly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

What Trump misses about America is, that when you love your country and disagree with its direction, you don’t leave it. You love it enough to criticize the wrong and change it for the better. The prophets of old knew that. They continually called Israel back to God, back to justice and back to compassion for the people who live on the margins.   “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10