Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump is Radicalizing America

We’ve heard the word, “radicalization” a lot lately. Radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals.  I was astonished when I heard an expert on the subject say, “With today’s Internet, someone can be radicalized as quickly as a week to two weeks.”  How could that be? 

Radicalization is not exclusive to Muslims.  While I learned that 1-2 weeks is probably an unlikely short period of time to change a person’s way of thinking, I realized that a large segment of the population of an entire country could be radicalized in only six months. 

Donald Trump’s radicalization of America started on June 16, 2015, the day he announced his candidacy for President.  My first thought when I heard his slogan, “Trump Will Make America Great Again,” was that it implied America was not great. I think most Americans were fairly content six months ago.  Sure, we had our share of problems, any country does.  We had made it out of a terrible recession, people were able to buy homes once again, and the price of gas had fallen dramatically.  With the Democrats looking forward to a woman President and the Republicans looking forward to getting rid of Obama, there was reason for optimism.

Then along came Donald Trump and revived the most distasteful characteristics in many Americans.  He started with Xenophobia; the fear of people from other countries.  I daresay not many Americans feared Mexicans before hearing from Donald Trump that Mexicans rape our women and that he will build a wall to keep us safe.  From there it was an easy leap for people to agree with him that we should round up all eleven million Mexicans living in our country and send them back.  Then he added Syrian Refugees to his hate list.  He’s said a lot of abominable things, but to say we need to go after the families of Islamic terrorists is beyond anything our country has ever stood for.

His rhetoric keeps getting more and more extreme.  He keeps pushing the envelope.  Last week he said America should have a complete and total shutdown of Muslims coming to our country.  I was sure he overloaded his mouth this time.  I thought for sure politicians and Christians en masse would castigate him because freedom of religion is written into our Constitution.  I thought wrong.

Every time we turn on the television.  Every time we turn on the radio.  Every time we read the newspaper.  Donald Trump is there pounding hate into our brain.  He has mainstreamed bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia.  How far will we American’s allow him to go? 

In just six months, this country has changed drastically, in large part due to Donald Trump.  We have been diminished in the eyes of the world.  How can any American seriously consider voting for someone that comes to office who lacks respect from important world leaders?  His radical stance on issues is pitting neighbors against neighbors, family against family, race against race, Christians against Christians.

It’s not just social and political radicalization.  It is also radicalization of our religious ideals.  A large segment of Trump’s support comes from people who identify themselves as Christians. Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the Republican National Party identified the Republican Party as a religion. That’s a sad commentary.   I am a liberal and I am a Christian, but my religion is not the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. 

I know better than to mention religion in this column.  I know I’ll be blasted with hate mail even though my intentions are honorable.  However, Donald Trump threatens the foundation of our nation in the name of Christianity.  We must not let that stand. 
Christians who agree with Donald Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric and support him in his endeavors should feel the shame.  You are being radicalized and don’t even realize it.   

To those who regularly read my newspaper column, last week you must have thought it lacking unusual incoherence (even for me).  It was.  Just when I was preparing to send the finished product to the Editor, I received news that my niece had died.  In my shocked state, I inadvertently sent an unfinished working draft of the column and did not know it until I saw it in print on Tuesday.  And to think, I worry if I'll misspell a word.

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