Sunday, November 20, 2016

an epidemic of animosity

It’s as bad or worse than we thought. I guess I still held out hope that actually getting the job would make Mr. Trump sensible and not need any longer to pander to the alt-right. As David Brooks said, hit “pause,” let the democratic mechanisms do their work, and see what happens. But I am just appalled at his first choices. I gleaned these reports from various news outlets…

Steve Bannon: Just appalling! It has become clear in the past few days that Democrats, and even some Republicans, aren’t happy with President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for chief strategist in the White House, campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Bannon, who runs the conservative news site Breitbart, has been called racist, anti-Semitic and white nationalist -- and he runs a site that has, in addition to having been unapologetically pro-Trump throughout the election, is known as a home for the so-called “alt-Right.” A quick look at the headlines on Breitbart shows that there is substantial fodder for critics of Bannon. Stories published on the site include items such as: “Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew,” “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy,” “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?” and “Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet.”

Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn has already accepted the position of national security adviser, the office of President-elect Donald Trump announced Friday. Flynn, who advised Trump’s presidential campaign, had been considered a leading contender for the position, given his support of many of Trump’s most grave foreign policy proposals. Earlier this year, he defended Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. and said he was open to bringing back waterboarding as a torture method and to killing the families of accused terrorists, which constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Conventions! General Flynn served as the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was forced out due to his controversial views on Islam and vocal opposition to the Obama administration’s policies to fight Islamic State. He claimed that “political correctness” was at fault in the U.S. efforts against terrorism. He also called Islam a “cancer” and argued that fearing Muslims is “rational.”

Jeff Sessions: Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was rejected as a federal judge in 1986 due to allegations of racist comments. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, 69, would serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official if confirmed by his fellow members of the Senate. Sessions, an early Trump backer, is an immigration hard-liner who has been in the Senate since 1997 and previously served as attorney general for the state of Alabama. Back in the mid-1980s, when Sessions was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become a federal judge. But during the nomination process, allegations emerged that Sessions had called a black attorney “boy,” that he suggested a white civil rights lawyer was a race traitor, that he joked he liked the Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked marijuana and that he referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”

John Bolton, top candidate to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, is publicly calling for the U.S. to help overthrow the existing government in Iran. “The only long-term solution is regime change in Tehran,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily on Thursday morning. “The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security in the Middle East.” The call for regime change is very much in line with past statements from Bolton, a hyper-hawkish Bush administration official who stands by the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He has repeatedly urged the U.S. to help Israel bomb Iran or do it alone. Even as Iran was in the final stages of negotiating an international agreement that requires it to dramatically scale back its nuclear infrastructure, Bolton recommended a military attack.

It seems as if is as bad as it could possibly be and yet still slip through whatever teeth congress and American checks and balances has left. What happens when the bully gets voted in a homecoming king and principal of the school at the same time? Folks just do not feel safe.

Contrast that with the homily the Holy Father gave the other day at the consistory that created the new cardinals. Reported by Phillip Pullela on Huffington Post:

On Saturday Pope Francis said an “epidemic of animosity” against people of other races or religions was hurting the weakest in society, striking a note of caution against the rise of populist nationalism. Little more than a week after Donald Trump was elected the next US president, buoying anti-immigrant parties in Europe and elsewhere, the pope noted “how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant or a refugee become a threat, take on the status of an enemy… An enemy because they come from a distant country or have different customs. An enemy because of the color of their skin, their language or their social class. An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith,” he said at a ceremony to induct new cardinals.
While not naming any country, Francis appeared to refer to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attitudes that surfaced during the U.S. campaign and since the election.

The US Justice Department said on Friday it was investigating reports of intimidation and harassment in schools, churches and elsewhere since the election. One of the new cardinals, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, told Reuters the pope was “very much aware of the fact that if that (animosity) is not checked, it is very contagious and it can spread quickly, it can be like a wildfire.”

So, how are we going to check this epidemic of animosity?