I was shocked when I read reports about Trump’s alleged question posed at a recent meeting in the Oval Office asking, “Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?” I have never been so ashamed of the leader of our country. If this had been a one-time occurrence, maybe I could dismiss it. We all say things we later regret.
But this seems to be a pattern with Trump. He has demonstrated his bigotry, racism, and white supremacist ideas in numerous ways both before and after being elected president.
I was encouraged, however, by the number of lawmakers who denounced Trump’s words. I especially appreciated Rep. Mia Love’s statement. “The (President’s) comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.”
I thought, “Yes! This is not what America stands for. These are not our values. Trump is not speaking for America, even if he is president.”
Other lawmakers made similar denunciations and further clarified what was understood by American values. They said things like: “Our strength lies in our diversity.” “People of these countries are made in the image of God and have worth and human dignity.” “Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin.” It was nice to know that Trump does not really represent the most cherished values of America.
Then I had a terrible, nagging thought. What if he really does? What if the values of equality, freedom, diversity, and human dignity are not really the core values of America? I would like to hope that the majority of Americans do hold these as values somewhere high up in their hierarchy of values.
But what if Trump really is representing the highest values on which America was established? Our founding documents retained a lot of power for white, male, landowners. Business practices and legislation have allowed an elitist class to retain the majority of wealth and power in America. As a white, male, landowner, I have benefited from this system, as have many others who may or may not fit this description.
I am blessed to live in America. And I grew up proud to be an American. I used to believe that we valued equality over elitism and justice over the gain and retention of power and wealth. But when I hear the leader of my country repeatedly demonstrate his elitist and divisive attitude, it makes me question what values America really does stand for.