Detail Jasper Johns Flag Flag, 1954–55, Photo by Steven Zucker

Our passivity gives hatred a green light.

More law enforcement, more community engagement, more effective policing is what our country needs. — Donald Trump - August 16, 2016

Donald’s Trump concern for inner city safety is a warning. True to the form of the fear monger, he jumps in when we are experiencing a moment of crisis. His language, for him unusually eloquent and precise, makes it palatable: this band of madmen and conservatives are laying the ground for a stronger police state, masked in concern. You would have to be cold-hearted and uncaring to not support a better quality of life for all citizens. We want to be safe. We all want our children safe.

But Trump is not taking the compassionate stand. This language is code, an effort to get our permission for greater control and a stronger police state. You can get away with a lot by expanding the population’s acceptance of coercion when it’s cloaked in concern. The further erosion of our civil liberties is what you are hearing in these words. This has been used extensively in the last 30+ years to dismantle and chip away at our personal liberties as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and our rights protected under law.

In the 1980s Regan launched and then Bush expanded on a campaign to take away our civil liberties. “It’s for the children” was a catchphrase used in The War on Drugs. Using our children as their sword, we allowed them to squash free speech , due process, and personal freedoms. This was not reserved for the criminal; school children were subject to search and seizure or even questioning without due process by the police. A parent was not required to be present to advocate for them let alone an attorney.

Fast forward to 911. In our fear we again accept a unilateral shift in policy against all of us: It’s for the safety of America, In the name of preserving freedom we condone imprisonment without trial, accept the deeper erosion of due process, and allow torture by methods that have been deemed cruel and inhumane. Acts have been recorded that have historically been associated with nations ruled by tyrants and despots like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, or Putin.

Today we tolerate hate speech by our leadership. We allow them a stage to lather up our fears. We have found the great ‘other’ to pin all of our problems on and in separating ourselves, find we are a breath away from again incarcerating our citizens or those who came seeking asylum. How do we as a country come to terms with this? When do we demand more of our leadership, and of ourselves?

Perhaps this is the day we will turn our back on the fear mongers and haters and claim our seat at the table as the true custodians of our great and beautiful democracy. It needs us to do our job to survive and be healed. And that begins with the simple act of grace in casting our single vote. It is our way to look them in the eye and say “I see you.”

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