Norm Haughness

Now he’s calling our African allies bad names. How much more must America endure? This man, appointed to office despite a resounding popular-vote loss in the 2016 election, drags us down into a pit of racist raving un-approached by his worst predecessors. Never before have we had to wince in shame at such conduct by our chief executive.

Donald Trump's base, to the extent that they’re ignorant racists, love his “telling it like it is,” as they see it. The rest of us, the American majority, cringe. The question is forced on us: How much more of this national degradation should we tolerate? The Republican Party answer seems to be, back off, shut up, and help him Make America Great Again.

There’s a history: Trump’s dad was arrested while participating in an unruly Ku Klux Klan rally in New York City. He and Donald were heavily fined for refusing to rent their apartments to black people. Donald insisted for years that Obama was an African from Kenya, not an American. And just last week, he said, “Once Nigerians have seen the U.S., they’ll never go back to their huts in Africa,” and “Why do we need more Haitians? Take ‘em out!” He says he wants more immigrants from Norway instead.

U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., nailed it: “We now have a president qualified to head the Ku Klux Klan … Who in a responsible position in private industry could say such things and not be fired from his job?”

Some media outlets bleeped out the foul language he used last week when quoting Trump, indicating, evidently, that our president’s own words are too offensive for American audiences. But if our president can get away with it, it becomes OK for the rest of us — right — including our children, who can now vent their parents’ crudest biases against other, darker classmates and teachers. Our president has always been taken to be, in a sense, America’s mentor and personified symbol.

How far should we, the non-Trump-base majority, allow our country to be degraded and become the butt of the world’s disgusted contempt? Trump’s version of Great Again too readily calls up the pre-World War II white rule of our lynch-law South. His loyal base may long for those good old days, but for the rest of us, shame gnaws as we recall that history.

We have been brought down a peg or two from our boasted ideals by the conduct in office of inept predecessors like Gerald Ford and Junior Bush. But their flaws expressed poor judgment rather than a lifelong commitment to such evil goals as racism. The present Oval Office occupant differs qualitatively from those bumblers and is thus far more dangerous. Trump bumbles, too — we flinch uneasily every day at his ignorant quirks — but in him we have malignant intent to deal with, which is far more likely to bring the nation to catastrophe than their ineptitude ever was.

Like it or not, Donald Trump represents the United States of America to the world. Do we want this throwback to remain in the presidency, sowing his corruption, until his term ends? The amoral enablers who make up the Congressional majority — and yes, that describes the GOP leadership — appear to believe his version of “leadership” is in their personal best interests, and they will decide for us. Or will they? Should they?

One recalls Gov. George Wallace, who barred the schoolhouse door against black children. We could have let him get away with it. But we didn’t, to the salvation of our national self-esteem. Has Trump pushed what he stands for to our tipping point?

(P.S. As someone whose parents came from Norway, I can only feel soiled by Trump’s sick approval.)

Norm Haughness, of Tehachapi, has spent years writing and editing and is improving. The opinions expressed are his own.