Jan. 12, 2018
& To the people of Africa, and of the Caribbean:
A respected, respectful lady on tv this morning was saying that we Americans need to apologize to the billion or so of you who live in places that Donald Trump regards, and refers to as “shitholes.” I admire the lady, but I had to disagree. I don’t think we Americans need to apologize to you. We need to appeal to you. And, while we’re at it, we need to broaden that appeal to every other thinking being who lives beyond our shores.
I’d like you to consider why I say that.
I’d like you to know that Americans — true Americans — are people who believe in and strive to achieve an ideal: simple respect for all humanity, and the promise of all that comes with it. We have struggled as a nation, now for more than two centuries, to defend our values and move toward that often-elusive promise. We have not always done well, either for ourselves, or for others, but we Americans have never lost our respect for humanity, wherever it is found.
For you in other lands, that assurance no doubt is difficult to swallow.
Unfortunately, we Americans also live among others who profess to be Americans. In doing so, they lie. They lie with their words and their actions and a hypocritical soullessness that works in thousands of senseless ways to dismantle the institutions once relied upon to protect all of us. They coddle their own, they conspire with their benefactors, and they coldly and cruelly reject all others. Mr. Trump is their protector.
He, and they, are not Americans. They don’t qualify. Yet, at times like this, they have found ways to usurp the American ideal and emerge on the world’s stage, costumed as the embodiment of this nation’s soul. They are masked actors, playing villainous roles. As we Americans sit in the audience, with you, witnessing this horrible play, we are beyond concerned. We are embarrassed and saddened. We have been out-maneuvered and overthrown by the so-called “leaders”, themselves supported by scores of groveling, spineless sycophants, who remorselessly spit on us at home and others abroad with blatant arrogance, greediness, boorishness, sexism, bigotry, profanity and provable lies.
We who can legitimately call ourselves Americans are in the grip of those who do not share our respect for humanity. We are fast becoming aware that we have nowhere to turn; those who control our Congress turn their backs and cower, afraid to speak out, even against Trump’s vile view of others. At the ballot boxes, perhaps, we still have a means to cure our ills. But we wonder whether we any longer have the will. We wonder, as must you, if America is no longer a nation that truly strives to meet its promised ideal.
I am now in my eightieth year of being an American. It is the first year I have feared this nation has lost its soul. I wonder if representative government no longer represents us, whether it can withstand and overcome what obviously has been a hijacking of human sensibilities. Perhaps it can’t. Perhaps we have come to the end of the American promise. We shall see.
And so I appeal to you: Please understand that although you deserve an apology, I cannot apologize to you for the behavior of bad actors and those who cheer them on. It is they who owe an apology to their audience — all of you, our brothers and sisters in other lands, all of us in America who cherish our ideal. It is they who need to be hooted off the stage.
& Happy, in a way, that I am an old man, I’m outta here.