Veteran’s Day and Protest

I wrote the following on Veteran’s Day morning soon after Mr. Trump’s electoral victory. There had been a suggestion that Veteran’s Day was not a suitable day for students to protest Mr. Trump’s electoral victory, that somehow this might dishonor veterans. I felt it important to express my view that it was more than suitable. The following is what I wrote to my faculty and staff colleagues.

Since today is Veteran’s Day, I hung out on my front porch the American flag that my father, a WWII veteran, flew in front of his house for many years.

Might I suggest that, since this is Veteran’s Day, it be recognized at this morning’s gathering that this particular holiday is the state and nation’s collective way of honoring military service to our national community. In this vein, separate from policy issues on the Republican and Democratic, Libertarian and Green party platforms, I am ashamed that our citizenry has chosen to elect a man who is unaware of his responsibilities as our presidential spokesperson. In addition to the numerous character flaws he exhibits, and in addition to the various repugnant attitudes he openly indulges in regard to race, women, immigrants, religion, and many Others, he is a man who denigrated a gold star family because they are Muslim. He had the temerity to suggest that his own sacrifices in pursuit of personal career success were equivalent or greater to the public good than a family’s sacrifice of their son in military service to the country. And yet this man will now become our commander-in-chief.

Today is not Memorial Day, but it seems to me some expression against Donald Trump’s anti-American narcissism is appropriate to the day.

It is essential to the health of our democratic system that we acknowledge Mr. Trump’s victory at the polls. And those of us who are appalled by Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric must find common ground with those who voted for the man. Yet that does not mean we must fall lock-step into unthinkingly and unimaginatively following his leadership. Nor does it mean that anti-Trump citizens’ shouldn’t use the day to assert their citizenship rights to heal our body politic. To my patriotic colleagues, students, and friends at Bucknell please recall, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Since his Inauguration, President Trump has shown himself exceedingly self-centered and callous to our constitutional principles.  But he has also showed himself incompetent in simple implementation of his agenda. The travel ban from seven select Muslim countries this weekend is a good example of a thinly veiled anti-Islamic measure that revealed its rashness by banning green-card holders from returning to their jobs and families. His instigation of a fight with Mexico over an ill-conceived wall, an item that even immigration experts hold will not work, and his insistence that “Mexico will pay for it” with a tariff that will only result in American consumers paying the bill, is utterly counterproductive. He is sowing the seeds of divisiveness even among Republican stalwarts.  But he is pandering to the worst instincts of our body politic and vigilance is required to hold President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies in check.  Write your congressional representatives. Support those who voice opposition to his madness.

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