Truth Be Told

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

It's Not Just the Emperor Who Has No Clothes*

It doesn't really matter what political party you align yourself with. For most Americans the past week has been somewhat surreal. Our President publicly criticized Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the nation he was then visiting. He labeled one of our closest allies and trading partners, the European Union, as a foe. And on Monday he publicly suggested that he believes the "strong denials" of Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding Russia's meddling in U.S. elections, over the broad consensus and conclusion of the entire U.S. Intelligence community. And then he faulted the previous administration, once again stated his own innocence regarding collusion and finally, complained about the fact that some people still question the legitimacy of his victory over Hillary Clinton. All of this, at a press conference on foreign soil and while standing only a few feet from the leader of the nation charged with ongoing efforts to disrupt our democratic elections.

I would dare say, that at some point over the past week, nearly every American felt some sense of shame regarding the spectacle President Trump was making of our nation.

What was most difficult, was that President Trump aired our country’s dirty political laundry in a space, the international stage, that for centuries both parties have worked to exclusively, in fact nearly religiously, reserve for bipartisan demonstration of American exceptionalism.

Our collective tendency is to try to counteract the narrative which President Trump put on display. And this is exactly what most Democrats and even many Republicans are doing. Vehemently arguing that Donald Trump is misrepresenting us, because we want to believe, we need to believe, that we are exceptional. Senator John McCain, as he so often does, stated this argument best when he wrote, "speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad."

But remember, Senator McCain is talking about us, the nation that separates families at its borders. The nation that has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. The country where people of color get arrested for sitting quietly in a Starbucks. A republic that annually celebrates a Declaration which dehumanizes its indigenous population as "merciless Indian savages."

As someone who has spent the past decade of my life studying the Doctrine of Discovery and the past year uncovering and lamenting the blatant white supremacist views and vile genocidal policies of the man we celebrate as our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. I recognize that the way I felt this past week, is the same way I have felt many times prior.

The pain is not that President Trump is misrepresenting our country. The pain is that President Trump is representing our country quite accurately. Our history is colonial. Our most beloved leaders were brutal. And our stated foundational beliefs regarding who deserves freedom, liberty and justice is extremely exclusive.

And there lies the pain. Not in the misrepresentation. But in the honest reflection.

The temptation is to say, “the emperor has no clothes.” But the truth of the matter is, it is our empire that is naked. It is our belief in the mythology of American exceptionalism that is being exposed. President Trump is merely a reflection of our nation’s history and character. And when we see it on full display, so blatant and public, we feel ashamed. As a country we now have a choice to make. We can either begin the humble process of acknowledging and covering our collective nakedness, or we can increase the resolve of our denial and continue parading ourselves around the globe as if we were dressed in the finest of robes. Fooling no one, but ourselves.

I believe it is time we stopped senselessly arguing about when we were last great, or how soon we can be great again. And instead committed ourselves to having an honest conversation regarding if we truly want to be a nation where "We the People" finally means "All the People."

Mark Charles
#TCC2021, #AllThePeople

*In reviewing the responses and comments to this article on social media, I realized the larger point being made in the body was getting lost due to the title and the final paragraph, both which stated "the Emperor Has No Clothes." Therefore, I have updated the title and final 2 paragraphs.
Updated July 18, 2018 at 11 AM EDT.

7 comments:

Morning Glory K said...

Powerful words and a very compelling stand. He's right, it's time to honestly look at our history, as a nation, and collectively decide to right our wrongs, not by denying them, but by committing to correct them and create a truly great, inclusive, non violent, respectful of all people country! ... Starting now!

Gary Eddings said...

Thank you Pastor Charles for another insightful message. Shalom

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