/ Letters / ‘The unraveling of his toxic presidency’

‘The unraveling of his toxic presidency’

June 09, 2020

To the Editor:

It was a perfect embodiment of his presidency. On June 1, Trump proclaimed that he is “an ally of all peaceful protest.” Then he had peaceful protesters forcibly removed with smoke bombs and chemical riot agents so he could have a photo op in front of St John’s Episcopal church. This in order to support his call for law enforcement to “dominate” the protesters and his threat to use the U.S. military against Americans. Some ally.

But the use of religion for partisan purposes was the most disturbing. The Episcopal bishop of Washington DC was outraged. “Let me be clear,” she said, “the President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus for partisan political purposes.”

The next day he went for a photo op at the shrine to Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Archbishop of Washington found that “reprehensible,” a manipulation that violated Catholic religious principles, adding that John Paul would not have condoned the use of violence to silence and intimidate protesters for a photo op in front of a place of worship.

Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, added, “This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. And God is not a plaything.” At least a few Republicans are speaking out. The GOP governor of Massachusetts ripped Trump’s “bitterness, combativeness and self-interest.” About this nakedly political optics, even Trump loyalist Tucker Carlson of Fox News declared that Trump “seemed aware only of himself.”

The chief of police of Houston put it this way: if the President doesn’t have something constructive to say, he should keep his mouth shut because he is endangering American lives. Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded by saying that the President has spent three years in a deliberate effort to divide rather than unite the American people, adding that he could never have imagined the commander in chief ordering troops to “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens” for a “bizarre photo op.”

More than ever, it has become obvious that Trump’s presidency is incendiary and divisive. As the American people see more clearly Trump’s narcissism and authoritarianism, maybe we are witnessing the unraveling of his toxic presidency. 

David Barnhill




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