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I read articles written by conservatives, liberals, and leftists, many of which now regularly resort to juvenile insults. Name-calling masquerading as erudition. 

Words like moron, maggot, idiot, their softer equivalents goon, clown, jerk, twit, the all-purpose hater, or the latest nasty epithet du jour are now the common parlance of pundits, politicians…and people on social media. Some even use vulgarities.

Former President Trump is a leading if not the lead example of this, but he’s not alone. Playground rhetoric has been used by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, and many more politicians. It’s like there’s an arms race to see who can come up with the lowest, most childish nickname or rejoinder.

But what good is this kind of cheap shot? Calling someone with a different point of view a derogatory name doesn’t win the argument? It doesn’t encourage people to change their mind. Indeed, it can harden opposition. It only demeans, the speaker more than the recipient. 

Name-calling has tainted US politics since before there was a USA. But insults accomplished nothing back then, and they accomplish nothing now. They only divide, which is the enemy of consensus and achievement.

We can’t make others change, but we can raise the level of our own discourse. We can have a sense of self-respect that intentionally improves the caliber of our vocabulary and incisiveness of our critical thinking. We can never use juvenile name-calling again, which is what most of our Mothers told us in 1st Grade anyway.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

For all the noise, politics cannot offer solutions to most of America’s problems, which are not political but spiritual/moral.

E.g., breakdown of the family, abortion, child neglect, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, trafficking, alcohol, opioid, and drug abuse, sexuality/gender issues, poverty, crime, racism, pornography, etc. 

Solutions for these problems are matters of individual responsibility and accountability that come from our worldview, i.e., acknowledging God and truth, understanding right vs wrong, and making virtuous choices. 

James Madison said, “If there be no virtue among us, no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is an illusion.”

It’s not government’s role to instill virtue. This belongs to citizens and the church.

We’re losing this battle in many homes and certainly most schools, and churches too. The worldview being taught claims one’s circumstances are the source of problems, something outside ourselves: environment, family, government, anything but our choices. And wrong if it’s called that at all is not sin, which has been replaced by “bad luck” or victimhood or the medicalization of problems, etc.

Calling something sin sounds harsh or condemning, but if persons own their sin, they then can take personal responsibility and in turn have hope of real change through forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation. So, calling sin sin is actually a truthful way to offer hope. But if our bad experiences are always determined by something outside us we can’t control, we have no hope.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

A movement seeking to “erase” Donald J. Trump has emerged since he left the presidency. 

The on ramp for this initiative is Trump’s perceived responsibility for the January 6 Capitol Building riot. 

Today’s wave of purging the public space of sculptures and statues of people now deemed unacceptable is a new form of social repression. 

Cancel culture extends this beyond statues to a person’s reputation, job or potential for being hired, possibility of publishing, doing business of any kindseeking to silence voices through social mediaDo not hire lists of previous Trump administration staff are being created, which Karl Rove said was way too far and compared the blacklists to public shaming

One MSNBC analyst tweeted: “No book deals, no fellowships, no sinecures, no board seats for any of the henchmen and collaborators. No pundit gigs, no lecture circuit, no congressional runs, no professorships.”

Yet, “for over a century, publishers have played a leading role in defending free speech. In the 1920s, they challenged efforts to ban novels that became American classics. Random House defied obscenity laws to publish Ulysses. During the Cold War, publishers and librarians pushed back against efforts to censor “subversive” books and magazines by issuing the Freedom to Read Statement. In 1988, Viking Penguin published Satanic Verses and defended it from the Ayatollah’s fatwa and a worldwide campaign of terror.” Now, publishers are eagerly joining the cancel culture.

What many are now trying to do to people who worked in the Trump Administration is not unlike Amish shunning, an ultimate form of social avoidance for perceived crimes, or in this political instance for holding views not considered aligned with the prevailing acceptable narrative, or for daring to associate with someone now declared persona non grata by media and cultural elites.

Damnatio Memoriae

Then there’s the attempt to erase leaders from the pages of history, something ancient regimes did to the condemned.

Near the end of Pharaoh Thutmose III’s reign, between about 1479 and 1425 B.C., members of his regime attempted to erase the memory of Hatshepsut, his predecessor, co-regent and mother. Statues of Hatshepsut were smashed, her obelisks covered, and her cartouches removed from temple walls. As Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley told the BBC in 2011, Thutmose III could thereby “incorporate her reign into his own” and claim her accomplishment as his own. He could rewrite history.”

Obliterating the condemned in ancient Rome was called "damnatio memoriae," condemnation of memory, to be forgotten in official records, “to remove every trace of the person from life, as if they had never existed.”

Stalin removed the statues of other Communist leaders as he solidified his position in the Soviet Union. Ukraine dismantled 1,320 statues of Lenin after its independence, and renamed roads and structures named under Soviet authority.

Guy Beiner argued that iconoclastic vandalism entails subtle expressions of ambiguous remembrance and that, rather than effacing memory, such acts of decommemorating actually served to preserve memory. In other words, it backfires; erasing history doesn’t work.

The Scarlet Letter

Seeking to brand anyone who worked for or was associated with the Trump Administration is a modern form of the biblical mark of Cain or the Scarlet Letter.

Whatever one thinks of Mr. Trump or whatever one considers his culpability or responsibility for the Capitol riot, this new effort to erase him has more to do with seeking to banish certain ideas and values than it does about January 6. 

Proof of this is the Lincoln Project’s blacklist, pursuing all known associates who were doing their jobs on behalf of the American people, so they will be “held accountable & not allowed to pretend they were not involved.”

This blog is Not about defending Donald Trump; he can take care of himself. This piece is about the well-being of a free, open, and pluralistic society. If groups can “erase” Trump or anyone who worked for or was associated with him, then they can do this to you. 

And the point is, why should this be done at all? Cancel culture is based upon fear not freedom, power not persuasion. Trust the people, the free marketplace of ideas. If people don’t want more of Trump, they can act accordingly in the market. If they don’t want to buy a Trump staff person’s book, then they don’t have to buy the book. But others should not block its publication preventing those who want to buy the book from acquiring it. And so it goes.

Freedom is always the best option.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I appreciated the fact that, despite our culture’s pellmell, ongoing embrace of irreligious values, yet the Presidential Inaugural included an Invocation and Benediction, speakers, including the President, referred to Scripture, and they sang “Amazing Grace.”

At the end of the day, I’m glad for—

—the few hours of moving traditions and celebration of worthy ideals on Inauguration Day. 

—for a peaceful transfer of power. 

—for a day without violent incidents and thus the safety of people in the nation’s and state capitals. 

—for a constitutional democratic republic, rule of law, free opportunity and enterprise, and inestimable civil liberties.

Now, is it possible that—

“With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds...to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations,” Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865, about one month before he was assassinated. 

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.

If I had 3 wishes, I’d wish...

...that politicians rise to the occasion as Statesmen/women jettisoning partisanship and personal aggrandizement in favor of patriotic civic ideals, 

...that the rule of law based on the US Constitution and Bill of Rights would be respected above all else, including the interests of any politician,

...that reason would replace rancor.

Whatever you think of President Trump, or for that matter VP Mike Pence, you should be glad for and praying for Mike Pence this week. With Mr. Trump's expected absence from the Inauguration Jan 20, Mr. Pence becomes the titular head of the outgoing Administration. His presence at the inaugural, thankfully welcomed by President-elect Joe Biden, is a symbol of the blessings of a free constitutional republic, important to a peaceful transition of power, and a personal statement toward dialing down heated rhetoric and actions. 

Of course, Pence and Biden hold different political views and no doubt will debate in the future, but on this day, this is secondary to the well-being of American democracy.

And pray for the safety not only of participants in the Inauguration but also thousands of National Guard, federal, and local agency personnel.

Finally, pray the entire day comes off without incidents.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

If I were Pres-Elect Joe Biden and I was interested in reducing public angst, unifying the country, and beginning to look forward, I would never mention Pres Donald Trump by name again, starting immediately. In this, Mr. Biden can leave campaign mode at the door.

Mr. Biden could still contrast his views with what he considered wanting in the previous Administration, but without making it personal. Given Mr. Trump’s egregious persona, the temptation to hit back is understandably overwhelming. But doing so only digs a deeper hole, and Mr. Trump is not off the hook. He will still have to deal with his own issues.

I earlier made the same recommendation re President Trump’s ongoing, needless blasting of former President Obama. 

Knocking one’s predecessor is an injudicious ego trip and inherently divisive because it implicates all those who supported the former incumbent. It suggests blame and rejection to a group you wish to unify and inspire. Besides, for Trump, being ignored is the greatest possible affront.

This no-name approach makes it easier for the new President to be positive, make conciliatory comments, build bridges, and promote tranquility. Biden’s age, like Gerald Ford’s lovable clumsiness, could help him here, and like Mr. Ford after Watergate and a Pres who resigned in disgrace, reinforce work toward “a time of healing.”

I won’t hold my breath, but I’m hoping Mr. Biden is more wise and magnanimous than partisan.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.