Donald Trump and Moral Cowardice

I was meeting with a group of men recently. We were talking about current events. Someone brought up Donald Trump.

The guys were revolted by Trump, almost to a man. They turned up their noses. How could anyone believe he could be a politician, let alone a leader? Total disdain.

I proposed a thought experiment. “Let’s say we’re on a spaceship,” I said. “On it are all of us, plus Trump and Hillary. Now, we have to pilot this spaceship to Jupiter. How do we do it?”

“Sit back and watch the fireworks,” said one guy.

“Let’s go hang out in the rec room and let them hash it out,” said another.

“Two many big egos for one spaceship,” said a third.

Then, someone said: “Let them fight it out and kill each other,”

Let them fight it out and kill each other.

How many times before has that exact phrase been uttered by men?

About the poor?

About the rich versus the poor?

About the Bloods and the Crips?

About blacks and the whites?

About the Hutu and the Tutsi?

…About men and women?

Let them fight it out and kill each other?

Act as if the maxims of your action were to become a universal law of nature, said Kant. Is that the kind of world we want?

Donald Trump is a genius. I don’t mean he has a very high IQ. I mean in the original sense of the Greek word genius. As a genie, a daemon; a spirit from another world that haunts us and brings us gifts.

What gift? He’s a mirror held up to our faces. He’s reflecting back to America the seeds we’ve sown for the past 250 years. We confront an embodied seam of self-hatred that has been buried in the American psyche for generations.

Trump is a golem we created. We lift him up as scapegoat and savior; he is the Other we point to as the source of our problems, just as he points to those other Others as the source of our problems. And he says:

Build a wall.

Deport them.

Let them fight it out and kill each other.

As long as we’re locating the problems outside of ourselves, we lose. That includes nominating Donald Trump as the source of our problems.

He’s not the source of our problems; he is part of the solution. Understanding where he came from and choosing how we respond, without rejection, loathing, anger, or hatred — that is our salvation as a society.

To decide that Trump is the kind of person we should “put on an island somewhere”, is to stand for exactly what he (purportedly) stands for. It’s an act of moral cowardice. We can choose to be morally courageous instead. We can choose to realize that there is no Other.

We need to come to terms with this golem we’ve created. We need to understand how and especially why we created him. Otherwise we are going to be haunted by him, in more extreme forms, again and again. There will be no end to Trumps until we learn what trumps him.

The answer to Trump is not more hate. The answer to Trump is love.

I can’t know myself unless I know Trump; therefore, I choose to see Trump as God’s son, and my brother.

Now what is the maxim of that action?


Originally published at FG.

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