F.D.R. MEMORIAL MUSEUM
“All we have to fear is fear itself,” FDR intoned. His words are, unfortunately, no longer relevant to our time. Why? Because fear is so pervasive throughout our society it has become unremitting.
“Fear” is no longer a simple, single emotion that can be identified and ferreted out of our corporeal life after which everything will suddenly be okay, as Roosevelt implied. It has become the major cause of our great national discomfort–a motivating force beneath everything we believe, say and do.
The elderly are frightened by talk of making Social Security a private investment system, knowing they are dependent on contributions to the program by “millennials” who may have only their own best interests in mind. We are deeply threatened by talk of major changes in Medicare and Medicaid and modifying advances in affordable health care.
Our current government is cultivating increased anxiety at every age and socioeconomic level. According to political scientist Jason Johnson, “Our Constitution is not written to handle someone like Trump. That is the greatest danger and greatest harm he is to our country.” If Johnson is correct, and I believe he is, this alone should cause increased anxiety for everyone.
When David Cay Johnston (“It’s Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America”) wrote “millions of people voted for a narcissistic, know-nothing con artist who has spent his entire life swindling others while repeatedly urging followers to commit criminal acts of violence against his critics reveals more about Americans than about Trump,” it expressed why everyone should be fearful about their future.
We simply cannot find peace and a sense of inner security when the man occupying the White House shows obvious support for racists and neo-Nazis and has a longtime relationship, despite his denials, with white nationalists. According to Johnston, “developing a sophisticated understanding of other cultures is…crucial to peace and progress.”
The racial/cultural divide in America is a major cause of fear, especially in our inner cities, and our president has a long and documented history of discriminating against people of color. At campaign rallies, he openly singled out African-Americans, ordering pole to “get them outta here” while urging his followers to “rough them up.”
Although a great deal is being said about opportunity and jobs in the current administration, not much progress is being seen. The current trend toward less spending on scientific research and undermining public education is not policy which portends a bright future for Americans.
Increased domestic and gang violence, widespread drug abuse, fear of terrorist attacks–all have infiltrated our neighborhoods so that in many places around the country, people feel they can no longer safely congregate in public places for worship, education or entertainment.
Even while we proclaim we are not intimidated, we observe increased road rage, random outbursts, short tempers and increasing numbers of weapons carried openly. All are signs of embedded fear.
Jesus said, “Be not afraid,” but it’s not that easy in today’s world. We have more to fear than “fear itself.”
[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor and author. His website is Columnist With a View (columnistwithaview.com). Articles for the webzine can be sent to: amsmilt@ windstream.net or sent to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, Kentucky 41101. The article above first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on January 29, 2018.]
l.. MILTON HANKINS
I’d be the last person to question the literacy of a president–under normal circumstances. But, in the Trump era, nothing seems too outrageous. Frankly, evidence suggesting that the president may have literacy issues is piling up.
This is not a fly-by-night, conspiracy theory concern, i.e. as Obama’s citizenship. In the July 30, 2016 issue of The Times of Israel, Michael Jaffe bluntly titled his article “Does Donald Trump have a literacy problem?” Jaffe said, “Almost all of the words he utters are no more than two syllables. Given his authoritarian, narcissistic personality and thin skin, one can imagine a collective reluctance among his entourage to set Trump straight. … This and Trump’s difficulty with stringing sentences together might be an indication that Donald Trump’s language faculty, more specifically his literacy, may be lacking.”
In The Daily Beast, Matt Wilstein headlined his article “Samantha Bee Is Convinced Donald Trump Can’t Read.” Wilstein pointed out that Canadian political commentator Samantha Bee (host of Full Frontal) has “produced significant evidence…that Donald Trump may be, in fact, illiterate.”
Bee said in a recent segment, “[I] began by reviewing tape of a recently unsealed deposition in which Trump was repeatedly asked to read from legal documents and refused, first saying he didn’t have his glasses and then using the excuse that he’s not a lawyer.”
Bee continued, “How can you expect someone who isn’t a fancy-pants lawyer to read words? At first, I thought Trump was lying, but then it hit me…You heard it here first: People are saying Donald Trump can’t read.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Wilstein continued: “Over the next six minutes, she [Bee] meticulously laid out the evidence, including the fact that the only book title Trump can recall when people ask him what he’s read recently is All Quiet on the Western Front and his unnerving practice of shouting things he wants to tweet at his staffers during the day. Even his signature is suspiciously missing recognizable letters.”
In the Washington Post (July 17, 2016), Marc Fisher wrote, “As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday. He has no time to read, he said: ‘I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy [sic], I guess, than ever before.'”
Alex Shepherd wrote in The New Republic, “Donald Trump doesn’t read books.” He points out that following an interview with Megyn Kelly, Kelly sensed “that Trump may not have read a book since sixth grade.”
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Politico’s Jack Shafer has similar concerns. He says “Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader.” In an August 13, 2015 article, he pointed out, “Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, [Trump’s] text of [debate] responses score at the 4th-grade reading level.”
Shafter concluded, “…Trump’s verbal deficit, as grating as it may be on the ears of the educated class, has not caused him much political pain.”
No one appears, according to my research, to have seen President Trump privately reading a legal brief, the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a document, or a book. Not even a magazine! I don’t ever recall seeing him wearing glasses either. It is strange, isn’t it?
TRUMP’S LITERACY REMAINS A PUZZLE
[L. Milton Hankins, the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. This article first appeared in the March 13th edition of the Herald-Dispatch. Hankins can be reached at: email@example.com. Comments on articles are also welcome in the webzine. Those who have editorial-opinion type pieces they would like considered for publication in Columnist with a View may submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org or send hard copy to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, KY 41101.]
Like folks with inquiring minds, I sometimes find myself wondering about noteworthy people who might, in another context, be inconsequential. They might be merely seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
If you can remember them, think about these people in yesteryear’s news. Some were household names, like Larry Craig, Kim Davis, Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy. See? Forgotten!
Who is Stephen Bannon? Do we know much about this guy who headed up Breitbart.com and who has become a top advisor to President-elect Trump? I wondered. So, I consulted the Wall Street Journal, archives of CBS News, the Washington Post and The Daily Beast. I thought these a good sampling - that I’d be able to sketch a decent picture of this Bannon fellow.
I learned Bannon was a Navy man; that he invested in the “Seinfeld” series, that he once made a “fawning documentary” about Sarah Palin. According to a CBS News article, he is “a rich guy-turned conservative propagandist” best known for his Palin documentary.
Lately, I’m certain he is best-known for his close association with President-elect Donald Trump. I dug a little deeper. At a WSJ CEO Council meeting, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Bannon, “is a man who says, by his very presence, that this is a White House that will embrace bigotry.” That got my attention. I detest bigotry! But, of course, everyone knows Senator Warren isn’t exactly an unbiased source on Trump or anyone connected with him.
I kept researching because I ran across the Warren quote about bigotry and also because it appears that the next president has a xenophobic (“a strong dislike or distrust of foreigners”) streak in him that can only be exacerbated by a close advisor who is a reputed bigot.
According to Will Rahn of CBS News (August 2016) Breitbart.com (remember, it was headed up by Bannon) was a haven for the “alt-right” who proclaims “the West is under attack and conservatives, locked in the straight-jacket of respectability, won’t do anything about it.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
The Muslims are coming, and so are the Mexicans. Blacks are out of control in the cities. The feminists are trying to upset gender norms, which is why you can’t get a date. Smart as you are, young white man, you can’t get rich, because of globalists, who ‘just happen’ to be Jews.”
Hmmm, it isn’t complicated to connect the dots. Steven Bannon bigotry Breitbart.com “alt-right” xenophobia close advisor to President-elect Trump to President Donald Trump!
Woodruff and Resnick of The Daily Beast, wrote in an October 2017 piece: “Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about [the aforementioned] things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.”
According to the Woodruff/Resnick piece, “Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.”
Should we just forget about this fellow, Stephen Bannon? I think not. I think we’d better keep an eye on him - remember who and where he is.
[This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, December 26, 2016.]