Beyond November 8, we must ask what community produced Trump.
Wolfram Kistner reminds us, “The society and the religious or ideological community or cultural group which has contributed towards shaping the mind of the offender shares in the responsibility of the offence and is in need of repentance on its part and forgiveness on the part of God and the victims with the view of facilitating a process of healing and taking precautions against a religion of the offence.
I thought of these words of Kistner as we in the last day before the 2016 USA presidential elections pondered on a Trump candidacy. I have elsewhere contended this 45th presidential contest was one of firsts. Americans will in less than 24 hours know who will occupy the White House and whether it’s 45th president is the first female or another pale male.
Beyond November 8, upon America rests the burden of looking at itself and asking tough questions if it has any dream of freeing itself from what truly divides it as this election have shown. As a society, America remains a highly polarized community and a denial of this is simply a dishonest analysis.
Much has been written opined and shared on a Trump candidacy from the most lewd to the most ridiculous. However what baffles many is why Trump for having blatantly offended many African Americans, Latino’s, Mexican, Africans, women, the disabled, veterans and the poor in stereotypes of racist and misogynist utterances coupled with a known opaqueness of clear policy remains popular.
It is as if America in this election is afforded a chance to look in the proverbial mirror and see what stares back at her. We heard throughout the period of this contest be it in the primaries and ultimately as GOP candidate people support Donald J. Trump because he tells it as it is, he is not part of ‘the establishment’ he speaks their mind, and he is not a politician but a businessman. What cannot be disputed at this late hour is Trump has more than traction in the USA to the extent that the election is polled as an undeniably closely contested race.
If we in the least are offended by Trump, if we bear the marks of his utterances against our collective humanity and if we have been hurt by Donald J Trump we must accept Trump is not alone. It would be a grave mistake to assume Trump stands in the shadow of himself.
Trump stands on the shoulders and finds meaning in a community, a society, an ideological and cultural context that has produced him and has shown and acceptance of his candidacy despite it protesting everything in opposite of conventional elections.
Trump’s thoughts actions and articulations represent the sum-total of a particular community’s persuasions.
We know that all communities form values, we also know that these values over time take the form of norms. Yet, these values and norms assume and define definite choices for what is desirable. In a sense, we can therefore consider these choices as informed by a class struggle if the Marxist philosophy holds sway, motivated by Maslow’s psychology of a hierarchy of needs and underpinned by what cultural theorists determined as ideologies of race and or gender.
We can today accept the community Trump represents has made a choice for a form of separateness. This choice is made despite 250 years of a Declaration of Independence a choice for separateness. That choice is on the one hand a choice to be separate from, whilst it also is a denial of, an equality of others to share the identity they claim for themselves.
Not only is theirs a choice, by extension a norm for this community, but also it is contextualized with race as its premise and departure point and final destination. We know race, as a classification of humans into confirmed immutable biological categories with qualitative differences among them is a discredited enterprise.
We must therefore ask again as Dexter Gordon reminds us why race and its attendant and chromatically inaccurate color descriptors especially black and white enjoy almost universal usage today, though often with the pernicious assumption of the innate physical, mental and moral superiority of one group over another.
Not only has this community made a choice which is a norm in race but it equally extended that to a religious setting, in which it’s choice for separateness affords it in an alienable right to deny others their faith as first amendment right in the USA. Their choice for their separateness finds expression in their choice of denial of equal humans to practice and share their faith in an environment of true equality.
For it is now a norm to see the Muslim faith as its enemy, therefore this community is naturally unnerved by and proves intolerant of this faith out of that confirmed choice of their separateness. This community then thrives on the rhetoric of fear to engender an impending Muslim faith reality that threatens their livelihood as that which must be stood against.
This community of religious expression therefore thrives on an intolerance of other faiths only because they choose to accept their own faith as sacrosanct and thus by extension the true faith that must count when they know America is a secular state with many Christian believers.
This community’s choice of separateness is anchored in racism. Rachel Dolezal in her 2015 TEDx interview helps us conclude ‘…it is racism that gave race meaning.’
To appreciate Dolezal here is to appreciate that race is not a benign worldview that somehow was twisted and led to racism. The belief that some humans are biologically and behaviorally superior or inferior to others created the idea of race. Therefore, it was the very hierarchical worldview of white supremacy that mythologized race. The need to control, dominate, discriminate, etc, justified itself by manufacturing a worldview of the race hierarchy.
One therefore sees an umbilical chord that starts with race and courses through religion and ultimately finds expression and resonance in a gender to define this separateness. Never before is America so plagued by the reality of an articulated non-acceptance of a woman to lead, this is done in line with the mind of otherness that otherness in this season is evidenced in a Hillary Clinton being a woman.
The community that produced a Trump wrestles with the audacity of a woman to have lifted her hand to contest. Their judgment of her is not her known skills, her undeniable three decades of administrative experience, and her technocratic abilities to steer international processes and initiatives.
They struggle because the value of being woman, the evidence of a choice has long been defined and is now a norm. The content of that value intrinsically denies any woman an inalienable right to run for high office more so in the world where patriarchal dominance claims an eternity of presence. Therefore, their trapped ideology and disregard for women as equals protest this this season against the reality of the hour.
This very same community produced and ultimately gave the USA a Trump as its face of separateness in this season. It therefore cannot be that we afford this society, community, and religious and cultural groups to be given a free pass as if Donald Trump is a freak or a phenomenon in his own right.
This community however defined must own up and warrant being held responsible, since it offended African Americans, Latino, Mexicans, and Africans and all those who identify with the aforementioned. It consciously insulted women, mothers, and daughters by reducing them to objects of lustful desire, sum-totaling their common humanity as objects.
This community owes the minorities an unreserved apology borne from nothing less than a repented heart. We therefore cannot blame Trump as an individual in ignorance of denial of this community.
The trouble in the USA is not Trump but the community that finds complete salience and resonance in him. America has at least 40% of people if the polls are anything to go by that makes up this community.
A community of intolerant, racist, sexist bigots who desires time slavery. A community that truly assumes its livelihood is threatened by the presence of minorities be it the African American in Chicago or the Hispanic in Texas. This community undeniably understands America’s problems through the prism of race as the premise and base. This community believes America will be great again after an African American was in the White House one whom they blame for the problems in the USA.
When Trump and this community remonstrates in shouts of a slogan “make America great again,it’s in the undeniable sophism of a pretext that at some stage America was great. It’s on the populist rhetoric frame of a claimed believe that America must be brought back to what it was in greatness of claim as advanced by Trump and this community. They fail to tell us when and where this greatness of America existed and under whose political leadership.
Hearing Kistner is to appreciate the fact that we are not deceived to isolate a Trump for these offenses, we must prove more conscious to appreciate the wider reality of a racist America.
An America that has in the last 5 years experienced the murdering of hundreds of African American young men and women at the hands of police brutality. A reality of hardening attitudes of intolerance towards migrating others despite the fact that everyone in America shares a history of migration to the land.
Another interesting dynamic with Trumps surge for high office is the public role of the evangelicals who have shown their unreserved support, tolerance and love for a Trump. This community of religious definition must own up to the statements of Trump.
This religious group cannot disown themselves from Trump when he calls women ugly and fat, when he takes the latitude in stardom to claim a right to grope them and assault them. This community must own up when Trump calls Latino’s murderers drug peddlers and criminals. This community must own up when Trump says of African Americans you lazy, useless and know only how to make babies.
The proverbial gun may be fired from the weak hand of a Donald Trump but the gun and ammunition came supplied by this very community. The identified object and target for the shot is equally that of the same community’s target and object.
This community dare not in a sense of convenience perform attempt, the Pontius Pilate ritual, in washing their hands as if they innocent, we say to this community you are as guilty as Trump in fact you produced a Trump, you are Trump.
Russel Botman in his piece “Offender and the Church” in reflection on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission unequivocally warns us “one of the great ethical dangers of South Africa’s process of reconciliation is that it may leave us with the impression that the atrocities of apartheid were the deeds of ” the disturbed few. The most crucial of acts, however were done in public, and under the approving eyes of many Christians in the Afrikaans and English speaking churches. Perpetrators were also members of these communities. But the TRC faith hearings did not adequately explore the way the consciousness of the perpetrators was shaped therein. ”
Therefore if we want to write Donald J Trump off as what is deemed the “disturbed few” we will commit a grave error since he stems from an approving community comprising those defined as religious, ideological and cultural a society.
It is this society that we must red card, it’s this group we in this season must sent to the proverbial sin-bin of reflection. It’s to this group of religious in particular evangelicals we must prognosticate the wrongfulness of their choice for a separateness informed by that, which is oppositional to the claimed governing supreme scriptural text of their lives namely the Bible.
We must call this community out for what it is and thus allow them time to reflect in the ambience of hopeful conviction and pray penitence to let new values count.
Yes, values and norms of an inclusive, equal and same humanity actualized in an atmosphere of tolerance where the appreciation for difference is celebrated and not as oppositional but as a mosaic of diversity.
When we advocate for a new set of values and new norms it is not out of myopic judgmental adjudication but from a deep and sincere conviction that all of us are equal before our creator and we share the believe that humans can transform into that which serves the greater good.
It is also in stark awareness and acceptance that the American society is incomplete without all and daily must live and share the geographic space they are assigned to as determined by history.
It is in that environment Americans must seek to eke out a living for a common humanity free from the toxic race and gender laced identities for such humanity.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine