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August 8, 2019

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Corey Booker has been one of several candidates in the last two days to call Trump's rhetoric what it is: white nationalist hate speech. 
Via The Washington Post: Yesterday, while President Trump traveled to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, to comfort the victims and families of mass shootings from last weekend, former vice president Joe Biden gave a speech in Iowa that directly challenged Trump for having “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
While the president started his day stating that nature of the visits he was making were a reason to refrain from attacking his political rivals, within hours he chose to break that promise by tweeting repeated attacks on various Democrats, including the government officials in the states and cities where he was meant to offer comfort.

Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? …It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and defile a person.” — Mark 7:14-23

In his speech, Biden stated that Trump has “a toxic tongue” and has “more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.” Biden structured his speech so that it included a long litany of Trump’s hate filled rhetoric, reminding his listeners that Trump’s racist remarks are not isolated or occasional incidents, nor are they statements befitting the President of the United States. Biden then pivoted to say that there is not a long distance between such words emanating from the highest office in the land and the murderous fruits of those words: the emboldened violence of white supremacists in our country. Investigators believe that, before the massacre at Walmart, the shooter in El Paso published a screed (which police are calling a manifesto) online that used many phrases lifted directly from the president’s tweets

“We have a president,” continued Biden, “who has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation… Trump offers no moral leadership, no interest in unifying the nation, no evidence the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least.”

Other Democratic candidates also spoke out with a new level of candor about Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric today. In a speech at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, candidate Corey Booker said, "He's given the people license to not only hate, but to foment that hateful violence. And this is a time that the President of the United States should take responsibility and he has not done that. That's unacceptable.” Booker also said: "White supremacy is not a mental illness, and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate.”

In a live interview on MSNBC yesterday afternoon, just ahead of the president’s arrival in El Paso, Beto O’Rourke said that he believes the president is a white supremacist.

In response, the president could not refrain from jumping onto Twitter to attack Biden, public officials in Ohio, and also those in Texas. 

Words matter. How we speak matters. In the words of Jesus, “the things that come out are what defile.” Trump has used racist language since the very first day of announcing his candidacy in 2016, when he called Mexicans rapists. Before that, he spent years in his real estate businesses refusing to approve applications from people of color. He was the most prominent supporter of the fallacious birther conspiracy about former President Obama. To all those who said, “He will grow into the office,”: you were wrong. It’s been 2 1/2 years since he took power. He remains the same racist person he was before he was elected. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. This man continues to defile everything and everyone around him almost every time he opens his mouth. 

It is good to hear the Democratic candidates finally using the proper words to describe this president. They have been tiptoeing around for far too long. It is important to speak truth and call things what they are. The president is a racist. He is a white nationalist. And yes, he is a white supremacist. Even worse, he is willing to use his personal character flaws to encourage the worst aspects of our national character. Did Trump invent and start the racism that permeates our national life? Not at all. But he is absolutely willing to use its power for political gain. There is no longer any room for equivocation on this point. Too many lives have already been lost because we have put an overt racist in the highest office in the country.

Just as the Democratic candidates have finally reached the point where they are willing to name things what they are, so too do we, as individuals, have a responsibility to name things what they are in our own lives, especially if we are white. We do not have to be unkind, impolite, or rude when we do so. But we do have an obligation to call things what they are. 

Doubtless, this will cause friction for us with those who are still making the willful choice "not to see” what we all see. But we can no longer tell ourselves that staying silent is a valid option. Too many lives have already been lost because of our collective silence. How many more will be lost even after we do choose to speak? 

When we are in the future, looking back, each of us will remember a point in time when it became clear to us that silence was no longer possible. For me, it was Charlottesville. I hope that for any of you who have been reluctant to speak out, the events of this past weekend are enough to convince you that we are well past the time when we can allow our silence to enable the hateful repercussions of this administration’s hate speech. Be courageous. Be bold. Speak truth. Call things what they are.

Loving God, you sent us the beloved one, Jesus, to teach us how to pray. In his earthy ministry, he showed us the way of Love and modeled for us how to speak truth to power with dignity, honesty, and courage. Help us to follow his example of “naming things for what they are” when we hear hateful and racist speech in our communities, our families, and among our friends. Remind us that when we “go along to get along,” others suffer because of our silence. Give us the will to do this important work that you call us to do, that we may help to bring the ways of the kin-dom of heaven down here to the earth. All this we ask in your holy name. Amen.

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