Words from Howard Thurman for Trump’s America

| September 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Undoubtedly, we are currently in a truly extraordinary time in American politics. The President has become, to many, a symbol of hate. He spends his days hurling insults and blaming society’s problems on various minority groups—Latinos, Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists, transgender people, the list goes on. All this is in the name of “Make America Great Again,” as if deporting the Dreamers or banning transgender troops from the military is what America really needs.


When I was online the other day, I came across a Howard Thurman quote that seems particularly applicable to America right now: “During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it often has to masquerade under the guise of patriotism.” While America isn’t exactly at war with all of these groups, the country is facing many other socioeconomic battles. Unemployment is still too high, wages are not keeping up with inflation, and the gap between the rich and the poor is ever-widening.


This quote by Howard Thurman is just as applicable to these types of battles as to actual war. Trump, like so many other terrible leaders throughout history, picks a group to be the enemy and creates his own figurative war. We’re poor because immigrants are taking our jobs, for example, so we must fight against them. He’s constructed a war that these groups are not actually waging against us, and uses that as a way to let hate through. When he and his supporters chant “Make America Great Again,” this is frequently the real meaning. The patriotism is nothing more than a hatred for (and fear towards) the other on whom they have pinned America’s problems.


It’s easy to be susceptible to this kind of manipulation. People who we don’t understand scare us, and it’s so much easier to find someone to blame for a problem rather than sit down and deal with the complexities. But we have to be conscious of what Trump’s brand of patriotism really involves, and remember another quote by Howard Thurman: “Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.” We must remember, if our society rejects everyone who is different like Trump asks us to, we will be nothing.

featured photo credit: mitchell haindfield divided via photopin (license)

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Samantha Troll

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