“Trump and issues of courage”

Today two issues converge which seem at first totally unrelated — Donald Trump facing a bigoted supporter at a rally, and the breaking news that the mother of Baby Doe in Boston has been arrested along with her boyfriend.

How many times do we hear this awful news:  a boyfriend kills his girlfriend’s child.

It makes me think:  How desperate was that single mother for a boyfriend that she goes with someone who ends up killing her child?  Was there no hint of rage, no trace of violent conduct to raise a red flag all the time they were together?  Yet — she stays with him.

Dumping him would mean once again being alone.

Staying with him means she has been dragged into his vortex of evil.

Her choices were:  whether to do something painful (like being alone again) or to do something painful (staying with this loser).

This is often the choice we have:  doing something painful vs. doing something painful.

Public officials face it all the time.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Every time I make a decision, I lose a friend.”

Last night we saw Donald Trump arrive at such a moment of testing.  He took questions from the audience at a rally in New Hampshire.  The first came from a man who said, “We have a problem in this country, and it’s called Muslims.”

Trump could have stopped him right there.  But he didn’t.

The supporter went on to say — the President is a Muslim, he was not born in America…

Two more times Trump could have stopped the speaker — but didn’t.

The man continued:  Muslims are running militia camps right here in America.

Trump finally responded:  We’re looking into that.  Some very bad things are happening — and we’re looking into that.

Trump was faced with the moment of testing:  doing something painful vs. doing something painful.  Speaking up to set a supporter straight, Trump risked losing that person and others like him.  But by NOT speaking up, Trump has revealed the scary element of his campaign.  It’s not just about his ego — it’s about appealing to the ugliest that possesses some Americans.  The candidate will now be dogged by this laissez-faire attitude towards racism.

Trump’s unwillingness to stand up to an oaf in a crowd is a character issue.  John McCain knew this when he was campaigning back in 2008 against fellow Senator Barack Obama.  A woman called Obama an “Arab.”  (I suppose she meant calling him an Arab was the same as calling him a Muslim.)  McCain took the microphone away from the woman, shaking his head, and testified to his opponent’s sound character.

Whether that cost him votes from the fringe or not, McCain did it, probably for his own peace of mind.  When Lincoln said that every time he makes a decision, he alienates a friend, the President continued:  He accepted that fate of making tough decisions, because in the end there was only one person he had to please.  He had to be able to live with himself.

 

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