Donald Trump, elected by deplorables, the ill-informed, the easily fooled, the undereducated and the Russian government, communicates with child-like tirades in short sentences of 140 or fewer characters on Twitter. This forum does not permit reasoned discussion, explanations or enlightenment on any issue. What it does enable, as Trump demonstrates daily, is his compulsive need to insult, malign, bully, lie, obfuscate and attack any who dare question, challenge or, the horror, disagree with his behavior.
Unfortunately, the messages on this medium are picked up by other outlets, giving Mr. Trump dawn-to-dusk, coast-to-coast exposure throughout the land. His banal and fact-free shouts are but bluster and bully talk. He spreads fear, division, anger and uncertainty. He’s already a national disaster; once in office come January 20, he could be ruinous.
A Plan of Action
What can a citizen do, to counter, to some modest degree, the all-powerful communication channels dominated by the near omni-present boom of bombast coming from the presidential pulpit?
Not much, by him or herself, but plenty in concert with citizens around the country. Everyone willing to fight for the character and perhaps the fate of society can devote himself to reshaping, reforming and revitalizing minds taken in November 8 by the Trump illusion/delusion. Resistance to and/or reforming the senses of the Trumpian masses might best be accomplished, in time, not with arms in revolution (forget heroic martyrdom at the barricades ala “Phantom of the Opera” mythology), but rather with pens (and keypads) in resolution. With a mass of counter views, we can balance the banter of the Twitter King. Let’s take back at least a part of the media—and make the media great again. Let’s together flood the opinion pages of newspapers and other communication outlets with reasoned, fact-based and evidence-rich commentaries. Let’s resist this American wanna-be emperor, not just because he’s bare naked—that’s bad enough, but mainly because his messages, if not massively challenged and effectively countered, are ugly and pernicious to our secular and democratic Republic founded on Constitutional safeguards for all.
Two letters to the editor, neither focused entirely on Donald Trump, the Twitter President, illustrate the kind of citizen communications that might help many Americans think a little differently about issues. On occasions, a single letter might change a few minds. The first letter, below, was published in a Texas newspaper. It was written by the co-president of a national organization defamed a few days prior in the newspaper; the second letter-to-the-editor appeared after Christmas in response to a story about whether little children should be encouraged to believe in a seemingly harmful lie, namely, that Santa is real.
(Full disclosure: The second letter was written by yours truly.)
Letter Number One – Regarding An Outside Group Butting in on Local Matters
We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation would like to respond to a recent Amarillo Globe-News editorial. (History, facts should matter, Dec. 27, amarillo.com.)
Separation of Church and StateFirst, we aren’t an outside group in Texas. We’re a national group of 25,000 representing more than 1,000 members from all around the Lonestar State.
(The writer) dwells on the absence of the phrase “separation of church and state” in the U.S. Constitution.
President Thomas Jefferson actually coined the descriptive metaphor in a carefully crafted letter to the Danbury Baptists on Jan. 1, 1802, when they asked him to explain the meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have repeatedly invoked his phrase in major decisions.
It is true that the exact words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the U.S. Constitution, but neither do “separation of powers,” “interstate commerce,” “right to privacy,” and other phrases describing well-established constitutional principles.
When it comes to our censored display in the Texas Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott’s action not only violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by offering preference to a Christian nativity display, but also infringed the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Once the state opens up a venue for speech by citizens, it cannot suppress it merely because the governor does not like the content.
Last week, a federal judge ruled that FFRF’s case against Abbott had legal merit and could proceed. We’re confident we will prevail on the merits.
(The above letter was written by Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder/co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation based in Madison, WI.)
Letter Number Two – The Delicate Claus Question
This article asks if encouraging belief in an adipose man in a red suit delivering presents in one night to billions of kids around the globe is naughty or nice. In my view, it’s not nice, but it serves an important purpose in families that teach even more preposterous beliefs to children. In such cases, children usually don’t discover that these other beliefs are equally false — but more pernicious.
However, to look on the bright side, teaching the Santa myth can serve a beneficial purpose if children later come to realize that other beliefs pressed upon them when young are just as foolish but more damaging. It is good to discover that there are no goblins, ghosts or gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. Santa is a harmless myth, but religion is a myth that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.
These letters did not change minds, policies or prevailing customs in either instance, but that was not the goal. The idea in writing letters is to contribute to the dialogue, locally and otherwise, introduce a new perspective on issues and correct erroneous statements. If tens of millions of citizens regularly write letters to newspapers, politicians and other venues as never before, perhaps the influence of the Twitter-in-Chief can be diminished and the damage of his reign may be tempered.
After all, as Ingersoll so beautifully put it, “hope is the consolation of the world.”