The nation has begun to display a collective shudder of recognition as it continues to reflect on what Trump has said, from the start of his campaign until now, on so many subjects, about so many people, in so many ways: he is the person he always appeared to be; we thought it was just a show. It’s hard to understand, but some continue to defend him saying, “well, they’re just words, it’s the way everyone talks, it is’t what he really means.”
They aren’t just words. It isn’t the way everyone talks. Words carry real meanings and reveal real truths about those who utter them. Jesus reminded his followers of that when he said, ”…It’s what comes out of the mouth that defiles [a person]… evil intentions, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.” (Mark/Matt.) What we say can bless or curse, defile or sanctify, build up or tear down. Words are powerful, and Trump has used them as blunt weapons to assault others in every conceivable way, not only now, but throughout his career.
It should be a surprise, but it isn’t, that there are two common moves to deflect the power of Jesus’ words when people don’t want to hear them. One is to assume the role of self righteous judge pointing fingers at others, especially those who can be accused of lascivious things like adultery and fornication. There’s nothing like a harrumphed tut-tut and tsk-tsk to keep attention focused somewhere other than on one’s self, with the added benefit of implying moral superiority. Jesus condemned exploitation and oppression, but it seems he had a soft spot in his heart for some people whose sex life was suspect. He didn’t approve, but he didn’t condemn. Go figure. St. Paul seemed to understand it well when, in his letter to the Romans, he offered up an even longer list of what can defile, and then warned the self righteous not to be quick to judge because they do the same things. The point they both make is that being self righteous is not a solid rock on which to stand.
The other deflecting move is to admit some small degree to guilt, but quickly point to others with a, “Yeah, but what about them?” Trump is a master of the move, and those who continue to support him follow with their own versions. Sure, he may have said something inappropriate, but they were just words, and besides what about (Insert name of your choice). If you can’t think of one, Clinton always works. If nothing else, bring up Benghazi, although that one’s faded to almost nothing.
No! This is not about what somebody else said or did. This is about what Trump has said and done, and it’s important because he is the 45th president of the United States. For that reason only, what he says has deep powerful meaning. But for that he would still be a floundering, blowhard, celebrity t.v. idol pawning himself off on a gullible public. That’s what he was. Now he’s the president, and what he has said and continues to say is a constant stream of words that defile, curse, and destroy. It ought not to be.
What about my words? Are they words of defilement or blessing? Are they words of deflection? They could be, but they aren’t. They’re words of observation and description about what should be obvious and taken seriously. There are plenty of skeletons in my closet if you want to pry, but I’m not the president, he is, and that’s important. Pay attention to what’s important!
With that, a few of my conservative friends will undoubtedly say that I’ll end up making this about race. Of course not. Shocked, I say, shocked, that you would even suggest such a thing. It may have to do with people who resented a competent black man digging us out of an economic hole when it should have been Ronald Reagan. Failing that, it may have to do with the illusion that even Trump would be OK as a successor, as long as he was male, white and appeared to be rich. But certainly, and by all means, it’s not about race, or gender. No, not about gender either. Perish the thought.