In 1948 Albert Einstein said, “Future generations will scarce believe that one such as this ever walked among us, in flesh and blood.” The man he was paying tribute to was Mohandus Karamchand Gandhi, on the occasion of Gandhi’s death.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi’s close friend and devoted follower, added, “No one had asserted more forcibly in his age that love was the law.”
The world rose up to honor a man whose entire life had been spent working to end oppression, set aside injustice and win independence for the people of India.
The Mahatma was committed to the practice of non-violent non-cooperation, and defeated the entire might of the British Empire armed with nothing more than a walking stick.
Gandhi was killed by a fanatic who belonged to an ultra right-wing organization advocating for Hindu nationalism. The man who had never taught anything but non-violence was shot down while preparing to say prayers with his followers.
Gandhi is a name etched on the monuments of history, for all time to come. He will be revered as long as there are men and women who believe in freedom, compassion and human decency. People like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
And what about Donald Trump? How will the presidency of this man be recorded in the annals to come? And just who will lionize his accomplishments?
Crass terms and profanity sum up Trump’s eloquence, along with “global warming” and the joy of eating “hamberders.” And during one of his ego-centric tirades at the United Nations, he was greeted with a spontaneous eruption of laughter, from the entire General Assembly.
“Liar,” “coward,” “fraud,” “womanizer,” “clumsy,” “incompetent,” “dysfunctional,” “corrupt,” and “moron” are just some of the comments offered by observers of Trump’s ineptness. To say nothing of “racist,” “white supremacist,” “neo-Nazi,” and “Jim Crow.”
For any who hasten to echo Trump’s claim that he’s created a bustling economy, let them remember that Adolph Hitler put Germany back to work and Benito Mussolini made the trains run on time.
The Germans and Italians sacrificed their values for the promise of short-term gain. Americans were offered utopian schemes, too, by demagogues like Huey Long and Father Coughlin. But we never sold out. Democracy couldn’t be given up on the cheap, not even in the face of the Great Depression.
As unsettling as Trump’s behavior is, that’s not the worst of it. The really frightening thing is that there are still people who can’t wait to scream their support of Trump. Witness the frenzied outburst, “Send her back,” at his recent “rally.”
The only thing missing from that crowd were stiff-armed salutes and brown shirts.
The reader may think this a harsh comparison, but it won’t seem so, if you read William Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” or watch Leni Riefenstahl’s film, “Triumph of the Will.”
See if these remarks from an essay entitled, “The Terrible Simplifier,” resonate: “He fed the anger of his own people by spewing out nationalist diatribes” and “gave speeches that were an incoherent jumble of folk sentiment, racist slurs and xenophobia ...”
The “terrible simplifier” was Adolph Hitler.
Perhaps the most horrifying prospect of all is the lack of outrage by Republicans to Trump’s despicable bigotry. It is impossible to believe, except for those of us who remember the worshipful cries of support for Joe McCarthy, until he was finally exposed and censured for lying to the American people and abusing his office.
Then, all you could hear from those same Republicans was a whispered, “Joe who?”
Donald Trump’s legacy? Anger, divisiveness, ignorance, bigotry and race hatred.