On Wednesday, Donald Trump, the master manipulator and “line crossing” provocateur went too far. Has he literally ruined America? Maybe not yet, but what he did today starts that process.
He took a major step over the line of decency towards doing so. I mean this in a way that is greater than all of his misogyny and racism previously. Today he went further.
I admit, I was blurry when I first saw the news. It was just before 6am, and my smartphone beeped with a notice of the morning headline. It stated that Donald Trump had proclaimed a ban of transgender people from serving in the military. I blinked my eyes. Surely, this was a gag, “fake news”, an alarmist Alt-Left site exaggerated the already outlandish behavior of a reality TV star gone wild.
It was the Washington Post. Worse, the news was true.
I have become somewhat jaded with the Trump shock and awe technique. As an American, I am embarrassed about almost everything the man has done while in office. I expect him to do unprofessional, undignified, offensive and generally unproductive things. It has become part of the territory.
This time, his wound went deep. At first, I thought my reactive anger and hurt was due to the fact that I have many transgender friends, and consider each one of them to be a personal hero to me.
My reaction was about more than that however. It was about America being ruined.
The United States was founded on a set of principles. Those principles embraced the realization that all are equal, and should be treated so in the rights they have as human beings in our society. While we were founded on these ideals, those ideals were short on realization, especially at first. Women were not included, non-landowners, black people, immigrants, etc. were all left out. Over two hundred years we grew and progressed, evolved and have been correcting those mistakes, if not in full actualization at least in intention. One of the most recent achievements towards our becoming the best of our ideals was the achievement that LGBTQ people had the right to serve in the military and to marry.
Now, Donald Trump has sent the nation into a state of regression. He is removing rights. By declaring that transgender people could not serve in the military, he trampled the dignity, aspirations, hopes, and life plans of 15000 Americans who had committed and were serving our country.
Donald Trump has started the process of enshrining the principle of “all are not created equal”. While he has started with transgender people, we can only speculate as to who else on his target list will have basic rights stripped away.
The destruction of America has begun. But not without a letter from me:
I think you have been berated for your Transphobic actions already today by much of the American public. Many have pointed out your lack of class in stripping a target population of their rights on the anniversary of Harry Truman giving another besieged population an affirmation of their dignity as citizens.
It has been pointed out already that you, a five time draft deferment entitlement child, have attacked some of the bravest among us, while you held onto your own timidity in serving in the military yourself to instead, only serving yourself.
I am also not going to point out that the money you claim to be saving in transgender medical costs would be nullified significantly if you gave up golf, and your wife had moved into the White House when she was supposed to.
Instead, I want to tell you about an interaction I had with my dad, a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Marine Corp.
I was 24 years old and he had just been informed, not by me, that I, his only son and namesake, was gay.
The conversation we had was the worst of my entire life. He told me that while I was his son, and always would be, he loathed what I was. He did not know if he could accept it, and he hated it.
It was all I had feared of his reaction to the revelation of who I really was. I sat and listening to his rant, feeling small, humiliated, the supreme disappointment to him.
Finally he said, “You know. I sat on many a panel in the military judging homosexual men and voting to have them thrown out of the military.”
With that confession, I found my voice. “That is horrible dad. You were part of ruining their lives. And they were just men like me.”
As I said that, the look in his eyes changed. The anger, the hurt, the disappointment left his face. He had the realization that I had turned into the karma he had dreaded. I was, at that moment, payback for an injustice he had been part of that he did not feel good about. His son was the type of man he had judged before, and I was not going anywhere. He would have to face me the rest of his life.
The look in his eyes was now one of shame.
It ended our conversation that night and we never, ever discussed my homosexuality again. Over the following decades he grew to tolerate who I was, then to accept it, and then finally to celebrate it in ways big and small.
He grew, because he had something you seem to lack, Mr. Trump. A conscience.
As I said, you crossed a line… and there may be no return for you. A conscience at this point, might be horrifically painful for you should you find it.
My dad had to overcome the guilt of trampling the lives of half a dozen men, and he over came it with love extended to one…. Me.
If you were to feel shame, yours would be much larger. By fifteen thousand fold.
I was my dad’s karma. I do not know who will be yours. I just know it is coming.
I am glad I am not you. I am glad you are not my father, and I wish you were not my President.
He is a hero, military and otherwise. The men and women you are threatening to discharge are heroes, militarily and otherwise.
You , Mr. Trump, are not a hero. You have no worth.
You are simply the snake oil salesman who sold out America’s principles.
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Image: Mathais Wasik