Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I watched the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump with a number of my colleagues, all senior military officers today. I think that all of us left far from impressed and a bit worried about how President Trump will govern, and whether he will blunder us into a war with a country that can do us great harm, or leave us isolated from our allies and left as a isolated pariah nation.
The President’s inaugural address was underwhelming to be kind. But to be truthful it was not inspiring. It was dark, and presented a dystopian view of the country and world that President Ronald Reagan, who took office in a far more dangerous time would reject. It was not Reagan’s cheerful “Morning in America” theme of hope in the midst of economic chaos and the challenge of an expanding and aggressive Soviet Union.
Conservative columnist George Will called it “the most dreadful inaugural address in history.” Instead Trump emphasized long established myths of chaos and despair to invoke fear and to promote himself as a messiah figure. I have read and studied the inaugural speeches of many Presidents and have never seen something as dreadful as this. It was a curious blend of darkness, isolationism, militarism, and personal egoism masked in an anti-establishment populism with a bit of “Gott mit Uns” theocracy thrown in. In fact when President Trump talked about the security of the nation being in the hands of law enforcement and the military, he also threw in “most importantly we will be protected by God” I made the comment to my colleagues, “we’ll see about that.” That drew a curious look and I made the comment that “as a historian the whole “Gott mit Uns” thing has bothered me for a long time.” My colleagues nodded in agreement.
Personally I think that anyone who claims that “we will be protected by God” when they support polices and lifestyles that are best exemplified by the “seven deadly sins” is committing blasphemy, and that goes for the preachers on the podium who echoed the President’s message. President Trump talked of unity in the sense of nationalism and patriotism, but he never mentioned justice or equality. He talked of the future and relegated the past, our great American past, to insignificant nothingness. There was no mention of past presidents, national events, or triumphs in the face of terrible challenges. It was all about him and a people united to him, now, and a yet to be written future in which America would again be strong, wealthy, proud, and yes, even great again. I hate to admit it but the end of the speech almost reminded me of the words “ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Fuhrer.” But I digress…
When I was out at the brewery restaurant I frequent a man who I had never met before got upset about a headline on CNBC which called Trump “the great disrupter.” His comment was “he’s only saying what he campaigned on.” Since he was talking to me, I said, “well that was what he promised in the campaign” and the man got more belligerent so I simply ignored him and was relieved when someone I knew sat between us. The friend who sat between us and I we were able to talk about the the inauguration in a civil manner even though our times our opinions diverged. I stuck to facts and remained dispassionate whenever we disagreed, and it was good.
I could go on about what I thought of the inaugural address, but I heard exactly what I anticipated President Trump said today, it was a recycled campaign speech like I heard in person when he came to Virginia Beach in October.
But what really bothered me almost as much was the actions of a minority of protesters who went on a rampage of violence and vandalism not far from the inauguration parade. I don’t know who they were. They can claim to be progressives, but such actions show that claim to be a lie. They are disruptive anarchists who if they were in power would be as or more destructive that President Trump will ever be. Their actions endanger the lives and freedom of every peaceful and non-violent protester who marched today, and who will march in the future, as every time they do this they confirm Trump’s dark description of America.
My comments of yesterday about how to deal with the Trump Presidency before the inaugural address remain my views today: Truth, non-violence, activism, and civility. If you didn’t read that post you need to.
I am worried, but at the same time I will not give up hope. There are still too many good people who will fight for justice, and who will not be taken in by propaganda and vitriol, and they are not all liberals or progressives. They include men like George Will, my friend, and at least some of my military colleagues.
So anyway. I’m going to be doing some work around the house today and will probably have to go out and replace my twenty-year old dryer and maybe my washer too.
So until the next time, have a great day.