Nixon: When you get in these people when you…get these people in, say: “Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that” ah, without going into the details… don’t, don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, “the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don’t go any further into this case”, period!
Transcript and audio of the Smoking Gun Tape. This was one of the tapes released by Nixon on order of the Supreme Court. It revealed that Nixon had ordered a cover-up of the Watergate break-in just six days after the burglary. This is the tape that caused Nixon’s congressional support to melt away and triggered his resignation.
Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.”
In Christian theology, the Devil is an angel who defied God, and thus became morally corrupt. His name is Satan, which translates to “the accuser,” but he is also called the Devil, which derives from the Greek word διαβάλλειν (diaballein), which is generally rendered “slanderer.” Both names are appropriate because in the Christian narrative world Satan stands before God accusing humanity of rebellion, which is a slander because the division between humanity and God was instigated by Satan himself.
Bishop Robert Barron notes that the construction of the word dia-ballein combines two Greek words: dia – through, and ballein – to throw. Adding those words together creates a sense of casting asunder, or division. One must be cautious in assigning meaning based on pure etymology because words often take on meanings removed from the component parts (under-stand doesn’t mean to stand under something), but in this case I think the interpretation is useful because one can see how accusing and slandering will cast relationships asunder and cause division.
When God created humanity ‘in his image,’ he created us in a love relationship that mirrored the love relationship of the Trinity. In the Trinity there are three distinct persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) whose relationship with each other is a total outpouring of love, called perichoresis. The image of God in humans is the total outpouring of love by humanity for God, just as God pours himself out to humanity. In the Genesis story Adam and Eve stand for all humanity, and God has provided everything for their needs, given them autonomy and dominion over the earth. We read his instruction not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a threat: if you do it you will die. But in fact it was a warning: creating a division in our relationship will bring about the death of our love relationship. It is not, “if you put your hand on the stove I will burn you,” it is, “if you put your hand on the stove you will get burned.”
The narrative continues with the arrival on the scene of the serpent, widely understood to be Satan. Satan tempts Eve with the promise of hidden knowledge and lies to her about the consequences of giving in to that temptation. But, alas, she is helpless to resist, and she sins, and Adam includes himself in her sin. And the sin immediately resulted in death, as God had warned.
The reader may wonder how the act resulted in immediate death when the Genesis narrative shows Adam and Eve living for hundreds of years outside of Eden. But the death God warned against was the death of the love relationship. As Paul writes, they moved from love of the Creator to love of created things, and after they were never able to devote their full attention to the love of God. Their affections were divided, which removed them from the total self-giving love of God. Thus, they were divided from God. That is death. The Serpent, Satan, the Accuser, the Slanderer, had successfully brought about the fall of humanity, casting asunder the wholeness of humans, and casting asunder their relationship with God.
The curse of humanity throughout recorded history has been the operation of this division manifest in uncountable ways. Humans are not only divided from God by their disordered affections, they are separated from each other by the breaking of God’s Spirit. The result is all of the calamities known to man.
Dia-ballein. To cast asunder. Division is the fate of humanity, and as we look about us today we lament the division we see in American politics, as if it were something new. Of course it is not new but at times it is more pronounced and noticeable. Although this spirit of division is undeniable, in the national discourse its cause is debated. To the conservatives, it’s the liberals To the liberals, it’s Trump. To the immigrants and minorities it’s the whites. To the whites it’s the “other,” whoever that happens to be at the moment (Naive Americans, Blacks, Irish, Catholics, Asians, Eastern Europeans, Italians, Okies, Hispanics, Japanese, and now Muslims). There are accusing fingers pointing in every direction. Each side, at least in its own mind, has truth and righteousness on its side, but the result is ever deepening division, to the point that one wonders if it is possible to heal.
Donald Trump was elected after running a campaign that sowed division. It began with the accusation that Mexicans were sending “rapists and drug dealers” and continued with attacks on Muslims, the press, the courts, “political correctness.” To some this aggressive speech was refreshing, stating openly what they had long believed but were afraid to vocalize. Others, like the KKK and other white supremacist organizations, openly celebrated that at last their hateful ideology was becoming mainstream.
Now, I am not saying that Donald Trump is the Devil, but I am saying that Donald Trump is doing the Devil’s work. Because the Devil’s work is to accuse and slander, skills Donald Trump has mastered.
But Donald Trump is not alone. Since the election, and particularly since the inauguration, liberals have responded to the provocations of the Trump administration by pointing accusing fingers not only at Trump, but against those who support him. It may be argued that their anger is righteous, but we must also concede that the result of this anger is not righteousness but more anger and more provocation. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If Donald Trump’s opponents are able to succeed in ending his presidency, it will not heal the division.
In a secular society like the United States, few are willing to consider national political and social problems in spiritual or religious terms. But it is clear that the strategies employed to solve these problems do exactly the opposite. Can we concede that peace cannot be restored or created by vanquishing our opponents? If so, then we may consider an alternative strategy.
Here, Christian theology comes to the rescue. The narrative that begins with the rebellion of humanity against the love of God, that sows division, ends with unity. The climax of the Christian story of salvation is the death and resurrection of Christ. The consequence of that event is that Christ has overcome death and division and restored the unity of man and God by restoring the love relationship. Theologically, this is accomplished by the death of the human spirit of division and rebirth in God’s Spirit of love and unity. That’s what Jesus means when he tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”
The biblical Christian outlook is that it is only by the death of our separateness can we be restored to union with God. When we become Christians, we receive the Spirit of Christ. There is only one Spirit of Christ. The result is that those who are living in Christ are all one, and the sign of that unity is the self-giving self-sacrificing love that Jesus modeled on the cross. When John writes “God is love,” he says implicitly that wherever self-denying self-sacrificing love is evident in the world, God is visible. And Jesus himself says that this is how his followers can be identified.
When Mohandas Gandhi was leading Satyagraha (truth war) against British rule in India, it was not difficult for him to find many willing to risk their well-being in violent revolution. It is perhaps symptomatic of the fall from grace that the human heart tends more toward vengeance than justice. But Gandhi insisted that no one could be his follower who did not surrender their inner urge to violence, even in thought. It is not enough to be nonviolent when one is incapable of mounting violent resistance. True nonviolence requires a nonviolence of the heart: a tendency to love and compassion rather than anger and punishment. The strength of Gandhi’s nonviolence was that even if he had the power to vanquish the British by force, he would rather have reached out in brotherhood. This is the Christian way.
And this must be our way. The truth is, the image of God is in all of us. We must learn to recognize that image in everyone we encounter. It is not likely that we will ever achieve substantial agreement on politics, but it is possible for us to love each other even if we disagree. South Africa in the time of apartheid could not have been any more divided. One way that President Nelson Mandela helped to heal that division was by reaching out to his opponents to work on projects they could agree on. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
I don’t think we should expect instant reciprocation. We may in fact receive violence in return for our love. But we must never give in to violence. We must have the courage to receive the blows of the enemy, knowing that our suffering will be the instrument that will save us both.
The alternative is to continue to divide. And this is the work of the one who creates division.
Cold War wisdom for the age of Trump. 1947 War Department video reminds us what makes America great. Source: Internet Archives. At 17 minutes it’s a bit long for the 21st century attention span but it will definitely be worth your time.
“20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.”
A history professor looks to the past to remind us to do what we can in the face of the unthinkable. “Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so.
An open letter to those who still believe Donald Trump will “Make America Great Again”
I am a veteran of the United States Navy who served during the Vietnam War. I am writing to condemn the Trump administration’s assault on decency and democracy and your immoral defense of it. We may disagree on specific policies and the direction of government, you may be conservative and I may be liberal, but we should not disagree on those things that have made the United States the beacon of light in the world: liberty, equality, justice. It was these principles I volunteered to defend during wartime.
Trump supporters have said they like a man who speaks his mind and is not constrained by “political correctness.” This, they say, is what drew them to Donald Trump, even though the mind he spoke and continues to speak is apparently filled with unprincipled ambition, overweening pride, prejudice, vindictiveness, and pettiness. So may I say at the outset that I intend to write plain truth, not softened by subtlety, about the embarrassment this administration already is to the United States, and about the culpability of Trump supporters.
Mr. Trump claims to have a desire to “make America great again.” It is a slogan designed to instill a fear of national decline. It points to a mythological age when the United States was not only the most powerful nation on earth but also the best, in terms of its commitment to the principles embedded in our founding documents. Mr. Trump declared on the campaign trail that the last time America was great was when Ronald Reagan was president. But Mr. Reagan himself used this slogan hearkening to the era immediately following World War II, when the United States had reached the pinnacle of its sense of mission by selfless sacrifice to overcome totalitarianism and by standing to defend American values for the entire world.
That vision of greatness must be tempered in the rational mind by inconvenient facts. Among these are: that for all of its military might and superiority, the United States has not been able to achieve a successful resolution to any major military commitment since World War II, that the United States has squandered much of the goodwill it gained from its victory in World War II by supporting anti-democratic, tyrannical, and immoral regimes around the world, that America’s self-righteous self-congratulation at the end of World War II ignored major injustices in the fabric of American Society concerning civil liberties and civil rights that would explode into rebellion in the years following, and which we still struggle to resolve. None of these pressing concerns can be rectified by supporting a buffoonish demagogue. We will do well to remind ourselves that Adolf Hitler was regarded as a buffoon, until he stole an election and set out to make Germany great again.
It was not with greatness but inconvenient facts that during his campaign for the Presidency Donald Trump painted a dystopian picture of America, tapping a into discontent arising from the fact that reality is at odds with the noblest vision of what we tell ourselves America ought to be. But, paradoxically, Donald Trump’s own words, actions, and history bubble up from the depths of America’s fetid historical darkness and are antithetical to our fundamental values. To be sure, he did not tap into an overwhelming discontent, more people voted against him than for him, and many of those who voted for him did so holding their nose hoping he might somehow be better than what many felt was an even grimmer alternative.
In fact, Mr. Trump’s core supporters are a minority who until the last few years have been on the fringe of civilized society: neo-Nazis, the KKK, conspiracy theory nut jobs, and xenophobes. They have succeeded in creating a paranoid alternative universe that Trump now puts forward as his vision of what is not great about America. This fake reality is built upon a foundation of twisted truths and naked fabrications that mischaracterize the threats America faces. They identify anyone who is different as a threat. They fail to realize that they themselves present the greatest menace to American values. They are no different in their malicious ideology than their historical counterparts. The difference is that we thought we had relegated them to the dustbin of history. Now this sentiment has a champion in the White House.
By casting aside every appeal to decency in public discourse as “political correctness,” Trump and his core supporters captured the imaginations of many who have come to feel that their government doesn’t really work for them. In that they are not wrong but as is the case with all demagogues the blame is cast where it does not belong. Encouraged by what can only be described as an “alternative fact” (lie) machine that blame has been amplified against Mexicans, Muslims, gays, liberals, essentially everywhere but where it belongs: against the big money players.
I can agree that the rank and file of Trump supporters are not evil people. I can agree that they may have been duped by slick salesmen, as we all might have been. But the events that have occurred since the election, and particularly since Mr. Trump was inaugurated, indicate clearly that Donald Trump is not for the little guy or for the country. He is for himself above all, and secondarily for his billionaire cronies. He and his regime throw little hate filled treats to his supporters to distract them from the real power grab. It has come time to say plainly that people who still support him are not the patriots they imagine themselves to be. In fact, they are unpatriotic and against America’s core values.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to appeal to people’s fears rather than their aspirations.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values for a political candidate to openly encourage violence against his opponents.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values for a leader to disrespect and denigrate vulnerable individuals and groups, to relentlessly threaten one’s critics with lawsuits or worse, and to mock a person’s disabilities like a playground bully.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to criticize and seek to circumvent First Amendment rights to free expression.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to ridicule American patriots: those who sacrificed in war and those who sacrificed at home for civil rights.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to cozy up to our nation’s most ardent enemies.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to put the nation and indeed the world at risk by impetuously tweeting foreign policy threats against our rivals.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to discriminate against any ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Period.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to twist the language of liberty into “America First” jingoism.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to turn the nation’s back on the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to present to the world a face that is jealous and fearful rather than one that is generous and accepting, as Americans historically are.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to use the Presidency as a platform for spreading extremist falsehoods.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to place the welfare of the people at risk to aggrandize oneself and one’s billionaire cronies.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to place one’s personal welfare and ambition before adherence to the constitution.
- It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to continue to support a man who is openly celebrated by neo-Nazis, the KKK, and America’s foreign enemies.
It is morally inexcusable to continue to support this man. If you do, you are unpatriotic and stand in opposition to America’s core values. The fact is those who claim to love the country the most have unleashed radical forces that threaten to undo America’s greatness, perhaps irreparably. Many Trump supporters may believe they are true patriots, as those who clamored for secession in 1860 thought they were being true to the constitution as they actively destroyed it. However, history has judged that action to be treason. And history maintains a vigilant eye.
It is time for all Americans: young and old, liberal and conservative, all religions and ethnicities to speak out vigorously for America’s values and against the Trump administration. It is time to speak out against division, xenophobia, bigotry, and injustice. Donald Trump is no more friend to conservatives or the little guy than he is any group that is currently the target of his ire. Silence not only works against your own interests, it places you on the wrong side of history.The world is watching. History’s judgment will be merciless.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.