Column: Not normal times, not a normal president

Roger VanHaren

In 26 years of writing this column, I have scrupulously avoided “controversy” — no politics, no religion, no sex, no gun legislation.

Boy, it’s really hard to keep quiet after the events of the last couple of weeks.

These are not normal times, and the “new normal” is so repulsive it makes me ill. Guys armed with assault weapons walk into gathering places and open fire. The guy in El Paso fired 44 shots in less than 30 seconds, and 22 people died, numerous others were wounded. Nine hours later, nine more people died in Dayton.

The next day, the president went on television with a carefully written script to tell us that the “sinister ideologies” of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” have no place here. That message in normal times should have made us cheer, but we know that these are not normal times and this is not a normal president. You can bet that he will soon be back to his regular barrage of tweets in which he will renew his rhetoric of hatred, racism, anti-immigrant white nationalism.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that the president’s rhetoric caused the bloodbaths of recent weeks, but it surely did nothing to lower the political climate.

I also don’t believe that all of the president’s supporters are bigots or racists, but it’s disheartening to watch the hatred and bigotry which characterize his rallies. His attack on the four young Democratic congresswomen (“Send them back” — even though all but one of them were born here) and the chants that dominated his rally in Cincinnati were just one example of his racist ideology. Of course, there was his insistence that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violence at a gathering of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In his speech to the nation, he had the nerve to talk about “the perils of the internet and social media,” saying that we must “shine light” on their “dark recesses” rather than to call for gun control. His Twitter account is one of those “dark recesses” on the internet. In his speech, obviously not written by him, he decried how “hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.” His ubiquitous tweets foster hatred. His name calling and lies create a dangerous social climate. Why do we tolerate this?

Okay, I’ve said my piece. No more ranting from me, I promise.

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