Deals with the Devil

A Trumpist at the Capitol-“Six Million Wasn’t Enough”

The other day a young friend expressed shock at Trump’s half-assed attempt at a coup. I’ve read comments in the news expressing shock at the attempt to overturn a legitimate election, at the attack on democracy. But anyone paying close attention to our would-be dictator over the last few years could have predicted it, as could anyone with a sense of history.

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

In 1963, Martin Luther King said the assassination of John F. Kennedy came about because of America’s indifference to the murders of civil rights leaders. That indifference allowed the violence to spread until it claimed the president’s life. Malcolm X said it was a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

In my opinion, we’ve just seen another breed of chickens fly home. Most of us slept comfortably when the CIA instigated coups against democratically elected leaders in other countries. These included Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Chile in 1970. In each case, tens of thousands were tortured and murdered. More recently, both the Obama and Trump administrations supported bloody coups in Egypt, Bolivia, and Honduras. Our government has also intervened to prevent elections. We invaded Vietnam to forestall an election which would most likely have resulted in a victory for Ho Chi Minh. We invaded oil-rich Iraq and destroyed their country on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Many Americans swallowed the government propaganda about the reasons for these interventions. Others were simply mercenary. I was marching to protest the Iraq war when a man stepped out of the crowd of spectators and shouted, “Do you want to pay $25 a gallon for gas?” Clearly, he didn’t believe the lies either. He just thought filling his SUV with cheap gas was worth whatever it cost in Iraqi lives.

After the events of January 6, more than one Iraqi has offered to return the favor: their army will go to Washington, overthrow our dictator, and restore democracy.

The Architects of Insurrection

It took decades of effort and funding to transport that flock of chickens to the Capitol on January 6. Many commentators trace the roots of this year’s coup attempt to the GOP embrace of racism at the time of the Nixon presidency. I’d take it back even further. The Republican Party has been the champion of monied interests since before the Great Depression. The party resisted the New Deal with all the force it could muster, and afterward did everything in its power to dismantle New Deal programs. It was the party of Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts.

The billionaires who backed Trump in 2016 were rewarded with substantial tax cuts. No doubt some of them would have been pleased by a successful coup this time around. Some gave through dark money PACs. Others, including the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, have been in the spotlight. Some Trump donors are known but haven’t gotten as much publicity. Kelcy Warren owns the Dakota Access Pipeline. He gave Trump $10 million, hoping to prevent a Biden administration from shutting down that environmental disaster.   The gilded class also funded the propaganda machine that convinced so many people the election was stolen, and that it was up to them to take their country back.

The less affluent among the architects of insurrection should be honored as well. Trump did indeed honor that most popular of hate radio jocks, Rush Limbaugh, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh began broadcasting his venom in 1988. I’ve never listened to him, but early in the ‘90s my friend Allison Jennings predicted that he and others like him would bring fascism to the U.S. She was right.

An Unholy Coalition

Medals should also be given to those who claim to know the will of God, and assert that He has chosen Trump as His instrument. Among these, the gold goes to Senator Josh Hawley for raising his fist in salute of the mob getting ready to storm the Capitol. Hawley was the first in Congress to oppose certification of the Biden win. He believes that only certain people have the right to rule while others must submit, and that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life. “We are called to take that message into every sphere of life that we touch…to take the Lordship of Christ into the public realm, and to seek the obedience of the nations.”

Vying for silver and bronze would be Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, and various other evangelicals who preached that God sent Trump to America.

In addition to saluting these Christians, we must give credit to certain Jewish factions. Zionists have supported Trump because they see his policies as favorable to Israel. A cousin in Los Angeles tells me the wealthy members of her Jewish book group voted Trump for the tax cuts. The ultra-Orthodox backed him because he opposed wearing masks and social distancing during the current pandemic. They are convinced, against all evidence, that their faith will protect them. It hasn’t.

I want to single out one Jewish man for special recognition. Rod Rosenstein, a Harvard Law School graduate, rose to become a deputy Attorney General in the Trump administration. From 2001-2011 he served on the board of directors of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. And in 2018, he ordered U.S. attorneys along the Mexican border to prosecute families who were fleeing violence in Central America. He directed that the children should be pulled away from their parents no matter how young they were – even if they were infants. Just what did he learn at the Holocaust Museum?

It’s been close to three years, and 545 of those children have not been reunited with their parents. Now Rosenstein admits that the decision to separate children was bad policy. He has moved on with his life. He left the government and is working for a “white-shoe” law firm that advises Trumps’ real estate empire.

How could these Christian and Jewish religious factions ignore the teachings of their Bible and vote for Trump, not just once but twice? Overlooking his cruelty and criminality, as long as he supported policies they favored, is the essence of a deal with the devil. Their end-justifies-the-means attitude fueled the attack on the Capitol.

A personal note

As a Jew I take some of this personally. My mother was an undocumented immigrant. Many of her relatives died in the Holocaust. It hurts to see beloved friends and relatives supporting a man who tore children and infants from their parents and threw them in concentration camps, without adequate food or medical care or even toothpaste. Was that okay with them—and with Rod Rosenstein—because the kids weren’t Jewish? When did we forget “Do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt?” (Exodus 22:21-22)

I wonder what those friends and relatives think today about the attempted coup. Or if they even noticed those members of the mob who wore T-shirts stenciled 6MWE – “Six Million Wasn’t Enough.” Or the one wearing the hoodie with the logo “Camp Auschwitz.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

I don’t have answers. What I do know is that we can’t count on change to come from the top. It always comes from the bottom. And, dear readers, since we are at the bottom, I invite suggestions and will discuss in a future post.

5 Responses to Deals with the Devil

  1. Connie O Byrne January 16, 2021 at 12:19 am #

    You always amaze me. What you said about people/large businesses supporting Trump because of his tax cuts is what I’ve been saying from the beginning. Ditto for you on the reasons for the anti-immigrantion policies and the evangelist crowd. Add to that Trump’s bolstering of the racial bias that permeates every piece of our lives, both with his words and actions (quiet or not) and nothing changes. All of this just keeps getting swept under the rug. And every time I find myself asking when the revolution Tracey Chapman sang of will finally come…and am met with silence.

    Like many people I sit on my proverbial hands and don’t call for the revolution that’s long overdue. I don’t know why others have been and are silent. I can only speak for myself…one simple word: fear. When I had Obama/Biden signs in my yard in ’08 and ’12 I was frequently verbally accosted by people walking by my house. The eggs dried on my garage door and are still there. Gardening equipment went missing from my yard in ’16…all three times campaign signs left with them. Add to that the broken beer bottles that turn up on the rock walls of my flower beds and all of the other trash. The ripped out plants and the ones that have been deliberately stepped on and broken off at the ground. And so I’ve become a coward when it comes to speaking out here where I live. My financial support, petition signing and speaking with peop

    across the country

    Being Unitarian Universalist I’ve marched with many others, written letters and made phone calls, supported and marched in the Women’s March, defending my presence and support of the BLM and Poor People’s Campaign. I have yet to see it make any difference here where I live. What I have received and seen in this ultra-conservative area are the sidelong looks, turned backs and sudden silence when I’ve entered a room have spoken up. At the same time I’ve received handshakes and words of encouragement where I work, Lowe’s of all places, and been privately thanked when I’ve said “hey, you do realize there’s this loud-mouthed dyke here” after NC passed the infamous “bathroom” bill.

    I still offer my meager financial support, sign petitions, make phone calls and occasionally speak out about social justice matters…when I can. I am heartened by your words. I am given hope by your words. And a small amount of what I can muster, backbone. Please keep writing, speaking out and putting the truth where people like me can see them.

    Keep the faith, maintain hope and travel in peace.
    Connie Byrne
    Kannapolis, NC

  2. Connie O Byrne January 16, 2021 at 12:21 am #

    You always amaze me. What you said about people/large businesses supporting Trump because of his tax cuts is what I’ve been saying from the beginning. Ditto for you on the reasons for the anti-immigrantion policies and the evangelist crowd. Add to that Trump’s bolstering of the racial bias that permeates every piece of our lives, both with his words and actions (quiet or not) and nothing changes. All of this just keeps getting swept under the rug. And every time I find myself asking when the revolution Tracey Chapman sang of will finally come…and am met with silence.

    Like many people I sit on my proverbial hands and don’t call for the revolution that’s long overdue. I don’t know why others have been and are silent. I can only speak for myself…one simple word: fear. When I had Obama/Biden signs in my yard in ’08 and ’12 I was frequently verbally accosted by people walking by my house. The eggs dried on my garage door and are still there. Gardening equipment went missing from my yard in ’16…all three times campaign signs left with them. Add to that the broken beer bottles that turn up on the rock walls of my flower beds and all of the other trash. The ripped out plants and the ones that have been deliberately stepped on and broken off at the ground. And so I’ve become a coward when it comes to speaking out here where I live. My financial support, petition signing and speaking with people
    cross the country

    Being Unitarian Universalist I’ve marched with many others, written letters and made phone calls, supported and marched in the Women’s March, defending my presence and support of the BLM and Poor People’s Campaign. I have yet to see it make any difference here where I live. What I have received and seen in this ultra-conservative area are the sidelong looks, turned backs and sudden silence when I’ve entered a room have spoken up. At the same time I’ve received handshakes and words of encouragement where I work, Lowe’s of all places, and been privately thanked when I’ve said “hey, you do realize there’s this loud-mouthed dyke here” after NC passed the infamous “bathroom” bill.

    I still offer my meager financial support, sign petitions, make phone calls and occasionally speak out about social justice matters…when I can. I am heartened by your words. I am given hope by your words. And a small amount of what I can muster, backbone. Please keep writing, speaking out and putting the truth where people like me can see them.

    Keep the faith, maintain hope and travel in peace.
    Connie Byrne
    Kannapolis, NC

  3. bernice turnipseed January 16, 2021 at 10:54 am #

    I agree that what the U.S. has done around the world, including in South and Central America is reprehensible. Now that the people whose lives have been up-ended by those actions are seeking refuge here, our government is using whatever it can think of to block their entry. Talk about hypocrisy!

    Also, it seems that many Trump supporters are using the abortion issue to justify voting for him in spite of all the negative actions he has taken against a whole host of people. Personally, I am opposed to abortion. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to use it as a reason to vote for or against a particular person or party. It appears that for many people, to be anti-abortion is not necessarily to be pro-life. If you consider all the other ways in which people around the world are being tortured and killed, it makes no sense to focus on this one issue as a political point.

  4. Bruce Gottfried January 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm #

    Martha, this is simply wonderful. You tie all the threads together. You place the major political events of my adult life in the right perspective. In just a few paragraphs you show the connections between them. No small thing. Bravo. I’ve been feeling a bit disoriented and blue with all the recent events this week, and reading your essay helped put me back on track. I was so glad you included the role that Jews have played, because this continues to grieve me. Thank you for your wisdom. Bruce

  5. Dennis Siple January 16, 2021 at 5:41 pm #

    Martha, et. al.

    The other night on my local PBS station they reran this show with some updates after the mess on the 6th of January. It gave me information about the real conspiracy theorist who has been pushing all of Trump’s lies and the crazy shit that has been coming out of his mouth for the last five years. The man’s name is Alex Jones. He has been pushing out completely false ideas for years, simply for the ratings. His platform is radio. He gives Limbaugh his ideas. He’s been spoon feeding them to the president since he began running for president. The guy who put them together – Roger Stone. For those of you who have PBS Passport, you will be able to watch it. You might even be able to without it. I sincerely hope you pout this out to your friends and families to help the country see where this madness has come from. While I was watching it I was dumbfounded to discover that this was truly the source of the crazy right BS that nearly brought this country down.

    https://www.pbs.org/video/united-states-of-conspiracy-1phat1

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