Donald Trump must have been paying some attention in history class. That’s where you can learn that being a bully works in America.
We can’t be shocked that this is happening. It has happened so many times before that its effects are known.
Our country has a long history of allowing the bully his (rarely her) sway over the public. The public becomes a tool of hate.
Our fundamental values as a nation are spelled out in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. However, we are sold the idea that each crisis allows us to ignore our fundamental values and ignore our rule of law.
During a crisis, our victims of choice are those who represent difference and change. Only with great luck and perseverance are these unjustly accused eventually exonerated. By then, lives have been destroyed.
We must fight against scapegoating; Decry the sale of fear; Pull our nations from the abyss.
We will be accused of naiveté. Worse, we will be accused of treason, as Trump has done with our President. Let us not buckle to the sellers of fear.
We will yell down, write down, laugh down and shun those who try to fan our fears.
Let us stand up for Justice for all, and for the Rights granted in our Constitution.
Most importantly, we will vote for those who stand up to the bully.
Want to know our hate history? Here’s a summary (just off the top of my head)
Today’s demagogue/bully joins a long line of hist0rical bullies. Our saving is that there are those who had the courage to say No and stand against these manipulators.
- Our history of prejudgment and fear of others began in the early colonies, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony suspected any who did not agree with the religious tenets of the colony founders. The colony leaders accused and jailed many. Many died. The lucky were expelled, such as Roger Williams (1636), who believed in separation of church and state, and the Quaker, Anne Hutchinson (1637).
- In New Netherlands, in 1654, leader Peter Stuyvesant promulgated a law expelling Jewish refugees.
- In 1732, Georgia, a colony founded as a religious haven, banned Catholics, without thinking much about irony.
- However, from time to time, in the long struggle of the American people toward complete religious liberty, several colonies – especially Maryland, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania – made notable contributions to safety for all settlers. These colonies worked to separate church and state, and allow religious freedom.
- During the late seventeenth century, during a time when Protestants persecuted Catholics, Catholics persecuted Protestants, and both persecuted Quakers and Jews, William Penn established an American sanctuary which protected freedom of conscience. Penn traveled unarmed among the Indians and negotiated peaceful land purchases. He insisted that women deserved equal rights with men. He gave Pennsylvania a written constitution which limited the power of government, provided a humane penal code, and guaranteed many fundamental liberties.
- Rhode Island further attempted to accept the Native-Americans as respected citizens. Roger Williams created a dictionary of the Narragansett language and held that land should be fairly purchased from the tribes. He and allies in his new colony also tried to keep slavery from taking a foothold in their area by passing an anti-slavery law in 1652.
- However, after the death of Roger Williams, the two parts of the Rhode Island Colony united. Subsequently, the anti-slavery law was ignored. The slave trade became an important source of income for Newport, and was accepted in those towns around the bay.
- Maryland’s gift to liberty and safety from bullies was the Act Concerning Religion – one of the pioneer statutes passed by the legislative body of an organized colonial government to guarantee any degree of religious liberty. Specifically, the bill, now usually referred to as the Toleration Act, granted freedom of conscience to all Christians of any sect. Maryland lived by this act for many generations.
- In most colonies the history of prejudice and discrimination continued before the Civil War with the long, long generations of slavery. Religion and pseudo-science became the excuses for fear and control of those we had enslaved.
- Prejudice again raised religious venom in the lynching of Mormon founder, Joseph Smith
- and later in the predations of the Know-Nothing party against immigrants from Catholic countries.
- Many in both North and South, insisted on denying the humanity of Africans, and held that Africans needed the control and parenting: another easy excuse for slavery.
- During the Civil War, the draft riots of 1863 saw wide-scale attacks on Blacks in New York City. White northern soldiers often refused to serve with volunteer Black soldiers.
- After the Civil War, our violent anti-minority history continued with lynchings of African-Americans, burning of Black churches,
- We suspended immigration of the Chinese (Chinese Exclusion act of 1882), the declaration by the U.S. Department of Interior that participation in rituals of Native American tribes are punishable by jail sentences (1883), the Massacre of Lakota Sioux by the U.S. Army (1890) and the systematic removal and herding of other tribes into ever smaller reserves.
- In the 20th century, this history continues unabated. During World War I, the KKK re-emerged to target Black Americans, Jewish Americans and Catholics. Immigrants from Ireland were shunned, harassed and worse. During the election campaign of 1928, the Catholic faith of Presidential candidate Al Smith played a loud role in his defeat. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were accused of treachery.
- In the first part of the 20th century, any of the lower classes who attempted to organize workers were jailed or killed as a threat to the great steam engine of progress.
- Just before World War II, a Catholic priest, Father Charles Coughlin was a popular radio demagogue who delivered anti-Semitic addresses during which he defended Nazi violence.
- And though a number of citizens of German ancestry vocally joined Father Coughlin in his race-purity beliefs, it was not citizens of German ancestry who were taken to “exclusion zones” during World War II. In 1942 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order for the internment only of citizens of Japanese Ancestry.
- Since that war, systematic harassment, suspicion and assassination have been the experience of Blacks who wanted true equality.
- During the late 1940s and 1950s, the ease with which people could be accused of communism resulted in loss of jobs, loss of opportunities, loss of freedoms and loss of life for the victims of fear.
- For generations, jailing without access to lawyers has been the lot of immigrants from Spanish speaking countries in many parts of the U.S..
- During the Vietnam War, those who questioned traditional capitalist goals and the war policies of the Vietnam era were the victims of police brutality and killings.
- And, since 2001, but also before, immigrants from the Middle East, and especially those who are Muslim, have been the victims of unwarranted wiretapping, arrest.
- Today, deliberate prejudicial exaggerations about Muslim beliefs are given more air time by media and spit out by those who want power. Muslims donations to help others are accused of supporting of terrorist organizations, even though no one has had to prove that the non-profit organizations they support are truly terrorist organizations.
- I know of no Presbyterians who are accused of supporting terrorism when they donate to non-profits that help refugees.
- This list is just the beginning.