When is it Too Much to Tolerate? If Ever, Now.


Given the craziness of U.S. politics over the past several years, I avoid addressing the topic very often in my writing. This doesn’t mean I ignore what’s happening in our country; frankly, it’s impossible to.  However, I try not to “take sides,” and I strive to look at issues from a “balanced perspective,” seeking to understand ALL sides. I give people the benefit of the doubt and avoid jumping to conclusions. Nevertheless, I recognize that in our increasingly polarized political environment even an attempt at a balanced view can be misinterpreted, and so I tend to keep my opinions on political matters to myself. However, there are times when I simply cannot keep quiet.

Take the current situation with President Trump. Despite his nonstop name-calling and racial and misogynistic comments, I have tried to focus on the fact that, for better or for worse, he is our elected president at least until the end of 2020. However, President Trump’s statements in the past several weeks have made it impossible for me, especially as someone who teaches values-based leadership, to remain silent. The fact that he told four freshman Democratic women in the U.S. House of Representatives (Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib, and Omar) to “go back to where you came from” is totally unacceptable. It is interesting to note that three of these women were born in the U.S., and the 4th is an American citizen. This was clearly a terrible, unacceptable racist comment. However, I resisted making a judgment on whether it was an “unfortunate verbal mistake” by Trump or whether it was truly evidence of a racist ideology, and instead, I sought to evaluate the facts. The fact then that he did not apologize for his statements was STRIKE ONE. The fact that several days later he did nothing to stop his supporters chanting “send her back” in reference to Omar at a rally in North Carolina was STRIKE TWO. The fact that after the rally he posted —

— certainly sounded like he was doubling down and endorsing the racism: STRIKE THREE.

When reporters asked President Trump for his reaction to people describing his comments as racist, he replied, “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.” Referring to the four congresswomen, Trump added, “All I am saying is if they want to leave, they can leave now.”

Wow! That says it all. Thank you, Mr. President, for leaving no doubt in my mind where you stand. A Values-based Leader would care deeply about the example they set for the people they lead.

Given the debate over whether the word ‘racist’ applies to President Trump, I thought it would be helpful to remind myself of its definition:

President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior certainly meet the criteria.

What I also find shocking is the reaction of most Republican congressmen. In a vote to reprimand the President for his outrageous comments, 187 Republican congressmen out of 191 in the House of Representatives refused to acknowledge the President’s statements as inconsistent with what our country stands for!!!!

What’s going on? Are our leaders more focused on simply getting re-elected than doing what they stated when taking the solemn oath of office? Where are the values-based leaders that stand up for what is right? How can we, as Americans, make clear to our leaders that their behavior is inconsistent with our beliefs of “one country, under God, with liberty and justice for all!!!!” And think of the example they are setting for all Americans.

I find it remarkable that despite his overt racism, Trump’s approval ratings have actually increased!! Is it really possible that more than 40% of the American population believes this behavior is appropriate??!

What does this all mean? Well, if we are truly “those guys” — that is, men and women who want to make a positive difference in the world — I believe we have a responsibility to let our current leaders know that this is unacceptable and that they will be replaced in our democratic process with values-based leaders who act and lead consistently with what we stand for as Americans.

One final comment: The acts of terror committed by white supremacists in Texas and Ohio last weekend cannot be dismissed as being disconnected from the rhetoric and behavior of President Trump. Our nation is hurting, and whether he likes it or not, as President, Trump has a duty to help heal and unify our country for people of all races and creeds — at least until 2020, that is.

10 comments

  • Harry, to believe this and be able to articulate this line of thinking is an important thing to do right now. And to share your beliefs in a forum like this is even more important.

    Knowing you, this took time and thoughtful reflection privately and with trusted others.

    Some philosophers have written the greatest value of all our cherished human values is courage. For your students and your clients in the US and around the world who are NOT needing to be cleansed like vermin, and NOT from sh_t _le countries (they are not), you serve them well with your courage.

    We are stronger together, all of us, when we have a shared appreciation and compassion for each other. E Pluribus Unum.

    For what it’s worth, I stand beside you and intend to be one of “THOSE GUYS” as well.

    Like

  • Harry. Thank you for leading with values, outlining the facts that support your opinion and then stating it succinctly.

    Like

  • Professor Kraemer,

    It is disappointing, even appalling, that you needed to count 3 strikes before outing the President on “evidence of racist ideology.” When we talk of privilege, this is exactly what we mean – the privilege of getting 3 strikes, the privilege of counting 3 strikes.

    Why is it that you needed 3 more facts to see how vily racist the statement of “go back to where you come from” is? It is a statement that aims to strip the sense of belongingness in those who look different from the President, and in so doing strip the sense of somebodyness, as Dr King put it in 1967, in the soul of minorities. It is deeply hurtful.

    And, why is it surprising that 40% of the population are unfazed by this latest behavior? Why were you unfazed by past similarly racist behavior? Was calling Nazis good people on both side not a strike? Was the Muslim ban not a strike? What about behaviors before the election? Was a total shutdown on Muslims entering this country not a strike? Was the birther conspiracy not a strike? Isn’t there the same attempt here at stripping the sense of belongingness, the sense of somebyness in these target groups?

    Please reflect some more.

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    • Hi Ray
      Thanks for taking the time to leave me a message. I truly appreciate any and all feedback.

      You clearly were surprised by my comments that I was being so “tolerant” of the President’s behavior. Well, we all have weaknesses. One of mine is to try to give people the benefit of the doubt, or as St. Francis would say, “seek to understand before you are understood.” I find it interesting to read the range of reactions to my post. While you clearly believe I did not go far enough, here is another perspective I received:

      “Your comments are entirely inappropriate. The Left is out of control, full of vitriol and hate. This president is the best we have had in decades. You should be ashamed!”

      Regards,
      Harry

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  • Our President’s rhetoric is disturbing to say the least but what is even more disturbing is the fact that 40% of Americans agree with his way of thinking about immigrants. In my 28 years in this country I have never experienced this kind of anti-immigrant sentiment…even during the dark days following the tragedy of 9/11. Having said that, I still believe in America and what it stands for. Thanks Harry for demonstrating that being silent about these things is not aligned with value based leadership.

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    • I should probably not waste my time replying to this, but people entering our country illegally are not ‘immigrants’. Are you really so incapable of understanding this?

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  • Your comments are entirely inappropriate. The Left is out of control, full of vitriol and hate. This president is the best we have had in decades. You should be ashamed!

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    • Hi King Vidor,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave me a message. I truly appreciate any and all feedback.

      You clearly were “surprised” by my comments regarding the President’s behavior. Well, we all have weaknesses. One of mine is to try to give people the benefit of the doubt, or as St. Francis would say, “seek to understand before you are understood.” I find it interesting to read the range of reactions to my post. While you clearly believe my comments were inappropriate, here is another perspective I received which my guess is you will not appreciate:

      “Professor Kraemer,
      It is disappointing, even appalling, that you needed to count 3 strikes before outing the President on “evidence of racist ideology.” When we talk of privilege, this is exactly what we mean – the privilege of getting 3 strikes, the privilege of counting 3 strikes.
      Why is it that you needed 3 more facts to see how vily racist the statement of “go back to where you come from” is? It is a statement that aims to strip the sense of belongingness in those who look different from the President, and in so doing strip the sense of somebodyness, as Dr King put it in 1967, in the soul of minorities. It is deeply hurtful.

      And, why is it surprising that 40% of the population are unfazed by this latest behavior? Why were you unfazed by past similarly racist behavior? Was calling Nazis good people on both side not a strike? Was the Muslim ban not a strike? What about behaviors before the election? Was a total shutdown on Muslims entering this country not a strike? Was the birther conspiracy not a strike? Isn’t there the same attempt here at stripping the sense of belongingness, the sense of somebyness in these target groups?”

      Regards,
      Harry

      Like

  • No matter the political party, I’ve always had such a deep level of respect and admiration for the position of President of the United States. When I know the President is in Chicago and I then see the 3 military helicopters flying overhead, I would look up in awe and it would put a lump in my throat. I remember once watching the Presidential Motorcade pass me and having such a sense of pride and feeling of patriotism. Every President of course has their faults, but to watch them lead our country and be a fixture of leadership for the free world, made those faults seem rather insignificant.

    And then along came this ignorant bastard. He makes me ill. He makes me sad. I recently saw what I’m pretty sure was the Presidential helicopters fly overhead, and I had to physically turn my head and look away, in disgust, Perhaps this is indeed Putin’s greatest attack to date in democracy, if he did indeed impact our elections. And I agree with the other response post – what is really disturbing is he does have a rather significant following of American people, and that is sad to me. Because as far along as it seems our country has come in breaking down discrimination and hatred towards people that are physically different from us, perhaps it is instead just really well masked.

    Thank you for writing this and look forward to continuing to think about what we could do to really make a difference and improve on this.

    Like

  • Thank you for such a thoughtful post!

    Like

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