I just read in the Christian Century magazine that Christian leaders across theological and political divides are pushing an initiative called “Golden Rule 2020: A call for Dignity and Respect in Politics.” Part of this initiative calls for people of faith “to take a pledge” to promote the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) in political discourse. The objective is to “highlight the need to bridge the divisions in our country…” My own Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has signed on to this initiative as have The National Association of Evangelicals, the American Baptist Churches USA, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and The National Council of Churches. I understand that soon there will be an option on the Golden Rule 2020 website for individuals to endorse the project as well.
Though it pains me to spoil this Kumbaya moment, I won’t be signing the pledge. I don’t see the need. Whatever is in that pledge is surely covered by my baptismal vows “to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” That means I won’t be driving a pick-up truck through your daughters’ college campus in the middle of the night sporting the flag of my chosen candidate while hurling insults, threats and obscenities, as did two of you at my daughter’s campus on the night of Donald Trump’s election. I won’t call you ugly names like “snowflake,” “libertard,” and “cuck” as you have done to me, my family, friends and my colleagues. I forgive you this behavior, though I doubt most of you know, care or feel the need for my forgiveness. If you come to my door hungry, homeless, sick or grieving, you will receive whatever help I can give you regardless the political affiliation displayed on your cap, your lapel or your bumper. I will pray for you, bless you and wish only the best for you and your loved ones. I will do all that because, as the GEICO commercial says, “it’s what you do” when you are a disciple of Jesus. Nevertheless, I must confess that I don’t have much respect for you and I’m about done talking to you.
Of course, I will always treat you with respect because there is no other way to treat a neighbor. But respect you? Respect who you are and what you stand for? That’s an entirely different proposition. Let’s take a look at what you are asking of me.
- You howled with laughter when Donald Trump mimicked and mocked a disabled reporter like a middle school bully. Is that your idea of funny? Are you one of those kids I remember from high school who laughed and jeered as the “cool” guys shoved the head of a terrified mentally impaired kid in the toilet? Well, you sickened me then and you sicken me now. How dare you demand respect!
- You cheered when Donald Trump bad mouthed the family of a fallen soldier at the RNC convention. Is that your idea of patriotism? Is that what I am supposed to respect and admire about you?
- You didn’t blink an eye when Donald Trump called several women “fat pigs” and “dogs.” You shrugged when he was caught on tape bragging about molesting women. When several women came forward to say that Mr. Trump had in fact done exactly what he said he did, he called them liars and several other derogatory names. But that didn’t stop you from supporting him. How much respect does that show for the women you love? I pray to God for your daughters, that they have some other healthy adult influence in their lives so that they don’t grow up believing that their bodies are fair game for any white celebrity who wants them. It doesn’t appear that they will be getting much of that from their parents!
- You voted for Mr. Trump though you knew he had a sordid history of racial discrimination in his failed real estate ventures, that he called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and you still support him even after he referred to people of African nations by a name I won’t dignify in print. So I have to wonder, do you hate people of color as much as he does? Or is their dignity so inconsequential in your eyes that it doesn’t matter whether they are treated with respect by the president of the United States? And you would seek my respect?
Spin them any way you like, but these are hard facts. This is the man you support. Because you support him, you own all of this crap. And let me add that it doesn’t matter one wit that you were not personally present at Trump’s rallies joining the mob in its hateful laughter and vile chanting or that you “don’t approve” of all the most extreme tweets from the White House. Bystanders at a lynching who do nothing to stop it are no less guilty than the ones doing the dirty work.
Please don’t tell me that all politicians lie, that all presidents have had their faults, that Donald Trump is being held to a higher standard than past presidents or any similar malarkey. Nobody is saying that any past president was perfect. But as imperfect as they may have been, past presidents did not criminally assault women and brag about it, spew racist rhetoric, make fun of disabled people or mock the families of fallen soldiers to the cheers of their crazed followers. They didn’t hurl personal insults at their political opponents and make personal attacks on members of their families. I refuse to normalize these atrocious behaviors by letting you shrug them off as just the endearing idiosyncrasies of an otherwise normal president. If you can excuse this behavior in the highest law enforcement official in the land, you don’t deserve respect.
Finally, don’t tell me that, in spite of his obvious shortcomings, you support Donald Trump because he has given us a booming economy with low unemployment. That is no different than excusing Hitler for killing six-million innocent people because, after all, he gave people jobs, cleaned up the streets and got the trains running on time. These lame excuses only tell me you understand exactly how corrupt, immoral, perverse and cruel Mr. Trump is, but that you don’t care. You are willing to overlook his racism, misogyny, lies and lawless actions as long as your wallet is padded. Morality has nothing to do with it because for you, everything boils down to money. This makes your support for Trump more rather than less despicable.
You want me to respect you? To put this as civilly as humanly possible: Oh hell no. Where I come from, respect is earned. The people I respect have earned their respectability through acts of kindness, compassion and courage. They are people who stand up to bullies when they victimize weak and vulnerable people. They are people unafraid to speak up when they hear someone make a racist or demeaning remark-even when it spoils Thanksgiving dinner. They are people who do the right thing even if it means losing an election, getting fired from their job or being shunned by family and friends. I respect people whose lives demonstrate that truth, justice and mercy matter more than the health of their retirement accounts, the size of their paychecks or the GNP. To be sure, you have my compassion, my pity and my prayers. But if you want my respect, start earning it.
I also have no further interest in dialogue with you. I’ve tried that numerous times and, to be perfectly honest, I’m exhausted. If this is a war of attrition, you win. I can’t do it anymore. Make no mistake about it, I would have loved to have had a serious discussion with you about the important issues facing our nation. But I can’t possibly have an intelligent, civil conversation with people who make up “alternative facts” when they don’t like the real ones and believe in baseless fairytale conspiracies. So as long as you insist, against all evidence to the contrary, that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering with our elections in 2016, as long as you insist, contrary to scientific consensus, that climate change is a Chinese hoax because some talking head at Fox or Breitbart told you so, as long as you go on blathering about the “the deep state,” about how liberals, socialists and intellectual elites are conspiring to destroy Christianity, steal your light bulbs and slow down your toilets, as long as you continue propagating myths about how gay and lesbian people can and should change their sexual orientation through a harmful and thoroughly discredited “conversion therapy” and as long as you continue passing off as news wild assertions, such as that Hillary Clinton and George Soros are running a child porn business out of some pizza parlor and all the other make believe crap your president and his enablers dribble into cyberspace, we’ve got nothing to talk about. I won’t dignify such moronic hog slobber by admitting it into serious discourse. If you want to rot out your brains with that phony bologna and throw away the rest of your lives chasing a pack of lies, be my guest. But don’t expect me to waste a single minute of my life chasing you down all of those empty rabbit holes. I have better things to do.
Perhaps you think I’m being unfair, that I am branding you with a stereotype you don’t deserve and that you don’t recognize yourself in the picture I have painted. Believe it or not, I hope to God you are right. Nothing would make me happier than to learn that I have been wrong about you and your president all along. I would love to believe that there is “another side” to this story that I’m just not seeing. But after three plus years of trying to carry on conversations with you that always seem to end in your calling me some derogatory name, reading your president’s tweets and listening to his speeches, watching your abominable behavior at his rallies and being the recipient of your hate mail on my FB news feed and on my blog, I have not seen anything of value under that pile of filth which is the Trump presidency. So if there is something I’m missing here, by all means point it out to me. But don’t waste your time or mine with any further recitations of the above. If that is all you have, please stay in your bubble and swap your bigoted opinions, your made up facts and your hair brain conspiracy theories among yourselves and leave me out of it.
On that note, I will close with a prayer that the new year brings you health, happiness and a goodly measure of peace. May we someday meet as friends with genuine mutual respect in a brighter future unclouded by ignorance, cruelty and lies.
Very Truly Yours,
Rev. Peter A. Olsen (retired)
 I am not even taking into consideration here the Mueller Report and the impeachment proceedings.
 There is more wrong with the bogus claim crediting Donald Trump with positive economic indicators than one can shake a stick at. But, in the spirit of the golden rule initiative and because I am feeling benevolent today, I will give you that one for the sake of argument.