Hatemongering is Not What Made America Great

Alan Zendell, November 2, 2018

When I began America the Beautiful, I selected the maxim “Dedicated to preserving what has made America great.” It wasn’t intended to be subtle. The truth is, I hate blogs. But I hate hypocrisy and anything else that denigrates our country even more. So I bit the bullet and somehow, I’ve managed to publish 160 articles since Trump was inaugurated.

I’m old enough to have followed Donald Trump’s career ever since he forced himself into the public eye, and I despised everything he stood for long before he was either a politician or a Republican. For Donald Trump to have adopted “Make America Great Again” as his campaign slogan was pure chutzpah, (which probably demonstrates that whatever else he is, he’s not anti-Semitic.) It’s no surprise to me that he doesn’t know America’s greatness had nothing to with ideas like winning at any cost, putting money above everything else, or bulldozing his way through life without a moral center.

I know what made America great. So do you. I grew up in New York in the years after World War 2, believing we were the greatest country in the world, and carrying that feeling with me ever since. We weren’t perfect by any means, but I never doubted that we were the best.

I knew we had just saved Europe from the Nazis, and we’d been the principal driving force in ending Imperial Japan’s brutal domination of Asia. I also knew we’d taken the task of rebuilding Europe and Japan after the war on our own shoulders. We were the only country in the world with the resources to accomplish that and we did it willingly and generously. We were admired by people all over the world, and as Donald Trump has pointed out in his uniquely twisted way, they all wanted to come here.

We let them come, as we had done for two hundred years before that because we knew that once it had been our own grandparents who came here, and it was their work and commitment that had made America great. Despite what Donald Trump screams at his rallies, the people who come here seeking better lives for their families are not losers. They’re the strong ones, the ones with the courage to leave everything they’ve known all their lives and strike out, often with little more than the shirts on their backs. They’re the ones that come here and sacrifice everything for their children’s future.

We had our own problems back then. Immigrants were called Micks and Wops and Kikes and Niggers and Spics and Gooks, but they came anyway and for the most part became the backbone on which our prosperity grew. Is there something wrong with me for having to take a deep breath every time I fly over the Statue of Liberty or drive within sight of it?

My generation struggled to overcome its demons. We desegregated our schools and passed laws to help people rise out of poverty and get decent educations. We weren’t always successful, but we made human rights a part of the face we showed the world, and we were revered for it. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve sometimes let greed shape our futures. Those flaws almost brought us down a couple of times but we’re still here and better for the lessons we learned.

So I absolutely reject the politics of hatemongering. As despicable as Donald Trump seemed to me in the past, with his unethical business practices and lack of respect for the truth, his involvement with organized crime bosses, and his disregard for everyone who was hurt by his business scams (have you seen Atlantic City, NJ recently?) nothing prepared me for what I’ve seen in his presidency.

Stock market rallies come and go, but morality and integrity once lost are forever tarnished. Trump’s disgraceful behavior leading up to next week’s election and the even more disgraceful failure of his own party to hold him accountable are the antithesis of what made us great.

What’s most interesting is that Trump has come out of the closet. He doesn’t even pretend any more. All that matters to him is winning, so he’s spending the final week stoking up the racist elements of his base, spewing lies and filth and hate wherever he goes. It’s nauseating, and it’s what we must become if we don’t put a stop to it.

Barack Obama held a rally in Miami today. He was greeted by pro-Trump goons doing everything they could to disrupt his message. Whatever you think of Obama’s presidency, and I had many disagreements with the things he did, today he reminded us of what it means to be a Mensch, that is, the opposite of Donald Trump. He didn’t call anyone names. He just went on talking about love and unity the way he always has.

In the end we usually get what we deserve.  We took our eyes off the ball in 2016, and we’ve paid for it with a huge chunk of our national soul. We can fix that simply by voting. If we don’t we may slip so far down the slope we’re on that we won’t ever get back up.

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