Today is Independence Day, and America, sadly, seems to have forgotten its roots, its values and its Constitution. And this memory lapse is being spearheaded by the increasingly unstable anti-American rhetoric of the President of the United States. Donald Trump’s lack of professionalism, decorum, and presidential stature continues to expose his so-called "man of the people" campaign as a fraud. Worse, this multi-act play is being performed on the world stage, to a worldwide audience. I, for one, am embarrassed for our country. His verbal retorts, primarily on Twitter, against news outlets and individual members of the media have grown increasingly personal. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed their criticism of his odd, destructive behavior.
Last Thursday, during a broadcast of MSNBC's "Morning Joe", our President took to Twitter and viciously attacked co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. He said the show is "poorly rated" and that the hosts "speak badly of me." Trump then called Brzezinski "crazy" and contended she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when the couple was at Mar-a-Lago around New Year's Eve. After being roundly criticized for most of the following day, Trump resumed the attack on the two, calling Scarborough "crazy" and Brzezinski "dumb as a rock." Scarborough and Brzezinski responded to Trump's attacks with an op-ed in The Washington Post titled "Donald Trump is not well." "America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president," they wrote. "We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, 'Morning Joe.'"
On Sunday, this man we call "Mr. President" proved that Joe and Mika's diagnosis was correct when he
tweeted a mock video of his 2007 appearance on a WWE. The video portrays the President attacking and punching a man (Vince MacMahon of WWE fame) whose face has been replaced by the CNN logo, along with #FraudNewsCNN and #FNN. Apparently, our illustrious President "borrowed" the video from someone who has a history of posting anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages.
Following Sunday’s tweet, CNN issued its response:
“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” the network said in a statement. “Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."
While running for office, Trump told the American people: "Believe me, I'll change things. And again, we're going to be so respected. I don't want to use the word 'feared,'" he said. Well, yes he does. Fear is exactly the emotion Trump seeks to invoke in the media, in Washington politics, and in the American people. Are you afraid, yet? I am. I do not fear Trump, the bully. I fear what Trump, the President, can do with and to the office of the presidency. I fear what he can do to the American people and the people of the world. America certainly is not being "respected" in the era of Trump.
Trump's wife and our First Lady, Melania Trump, promised to wage war against cyber-bullies. If she truly wished to tackle this growing concern, she should begin the campaign by tying the hands and gagging the mouth of the country's most vicious and vocal cyber-bully, her moronic, man-child husband. Yes, it has become apparent to everyone, even his most staunch supporters, that the POTUS is the most prolific cyber-bully in history. With each passing week, more and more reports are surfacing that question our President’s odd behavior and mental stability. His supporters continue to defend his right to "strike back," but one wonders what they must be thinking and/or saying, when the cameras go off. He has a right to respond to criticism, but he responds and behaves more like a schoolyard bully than a senior citizen president with years of business acumen to his credit.
I recently published my first novel, a legal thriller, “Betrayal of Faith.” It tells the story of two teenage victims of clergy abuse and their mother who embark on a “David vs. Goliath” legal battle, seeking justice against a corrupt church. The book is based upon an actual case I handled years ago. Fast forward to today. You may have read some of my blog posts here and elsewhere about recent charges of clergy abuse, most recently against Cardinal George Pell, a prominent Vatican official. In those writings, I asked: "IS FACT STRANGER THAN FICTION?"
Clergy abuse and the church's institutional cover-up of those crimes are topics so insidious, that they compelled me to write "Betrayal of Faith." Recently, I have found myself asking similar questions about Trump, and I was inspired to write the second novel of my "Betrayal" legal thriller series, “Betrayal of Justice.”
When I began writing this second novel, I wanted to portray an unhinged, over-the-top, unscrupulous president. The book seeks to invent a “caricature” of Trump. In “Betrayal of Justice,” as new president Ronald John takes office in Washington on a pledge to "Make America Pure Again," a white supremacist in Dearborn, Michigan, finds an explosive way to honor the president: he fire bombs a local mosque. After the man is found dead, all the evidence points to a young Muslim woman who took it upon herself to investigate the bombing. The president finds out about the incident and sees an opportunity to make an example of the woman and her parents: he orders deportation proceedings against the woman's parents. Things rapidly develop and escalate from there.
"Betrayal of Justice" is a work of fiction. I wrote it to call attention to the illogical results of the racist, protectionist, and unreasonable policies of a fictional president who desperately needs psychiatric help. However, it seems that our actual POTUS, Donald Trump, is more unstable than my fictional version, Ronald John. "Betrayal of Justice" challenges all of us to ask what it takes to pursue justice in an ethically torn America. Can we really expect to "Make America Great Again" when our President is an erratic, emotionally unstable man-child and toxic figure? FACT IS, INDEED, STRANGER THAN FICTION. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the behavior of my fictional President Ronald John and our current President Donald Trump:
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. FACT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION. I wrote most of the narrative that became "Betrayal of Justice" in 2016. Trump has fulfilled and, in many ways, SURPASSED, most of the bad qualities and behaviors of my fictional version.
"Betrayal of Justice" was written to call attention to the fundamental issue of religious persecution in the "land of the free." Most of us are children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren of immigrants. Most of them came to this country to escape persecution elsewhere or in search of freedom or a better life in America. If former presidents behaved the way this one does toward particular ethnic groups, we would not be Americans. We, as a free and just society, cannot blame an entire people, nor an entire religion, for the acts of fringe fundamentalist terror groups. My family on my father's side came to America from Russia to escape the pogroms against Jews. On my mother's side, many came to America from Poland and other countries to escape the Nazis. The Jewish populations of those countries in now almost non-existent. Jewish people know religious persecution when we see it. What is happening in this country is the seed of religious persecution. And the President is fanning the flames instead of seeking to douse them. Normally, we look to the American President to be a beacon of hope, justice, fairness and common sense. In my fictional America, a white supremacist was celebrated because he fire bombed a Muslim place of worship. In actual America, mosques are being fire bombed in increasing numbers, as I write this. We rarely read about these occurrences; instead, terror incidents perpetrated by individual Muslims or ISIS are blamed on the entire Muslim population. This is a slippery slope. I am reminded of the words of German pastor Martin Neimoller who wrote about the cowardice and silence of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and persecution of various ethnic groups:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Instead of bravely speaking out in the face of religious persecution, as Pastor Neimoller did, our President is symbolically beating up the press and spewing hate rhetoric instead of sending messages of community, fellowship, fairness, and compassion. He builds walls of separation when one of the heroes of the right, Ronald Reagan, sought to tear down these walls. Religion and religious differences should be embraced and celebrated; they should not be a source of hatred and division. Words matter; hateful rhetoric should be called out and repudiated by those who truly see this country as the "land of the free". "God bless America" should not be a slogan or an illusion; it should apply to all His children, regardless of what we call him or whether or not we believe in his existence. With an unstable, unreliable, unjust, unhinged, and Islamophobic POTUS, a higher power might be all we have left.