A letter from… the US
John J Thatamanil reports on life in the US under President Trump
Living in the US in the time of Trump is, I find, to be at a loss about how to love across chasms of difference. There is no denying it. Americans no longer live in a shared nation; for that matter, we no longer live in the same world. Some Americans live in a world in which we take as true global warming, the inviolability of every human being and hence the blasphemy of torture, the preciousness of every human love regardless of the gender of the beloved, the equality of women and men, healthcare for many if not all, and the notion that the US is a nation of immigrants between whom bridges of trust and solidarity must be built. A good many among these also support movements of resistance like Black Lives Matter.
But a great many Americans seem neither to care about nor believe in global warming, want to deny the rights of marriage to LGBTQI couples ‘on Christian grounds’, are openly hostile to Black Lives Matter, want to keep out Muslims, and love walls more than bridges. From fear and insecurity, the latter group voted for a man who openly boasted about sexually assaulting women, threatened to jail his political opponent, and now, after assuming the presidency, is launching daily assaults, with his party, on clean air and water, on financial regulations meant to protect against a second global recession, and on the core US commitment to the separation of Church and state. Trump’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, is an avowed white nationalist who claims to believe in a Judeo-Christian form of capitalism and so is dead-set against Islam – the entire religion, rather than a tiny fringe element thereof.
If to be Christian is to love – to love the neighbour but also the enemy – then we who belong to the former group are called to love the latter. Such love seems especially urgent because many of Trump’s voters will bear the brunt of his policies. Studies have shown that the US’ red states are more dependent on Obamacare than blue states. So, the very principle of love for the poor, the marginalised, and the vulnerable requires a love for those manipulated by wealthy elites, right-wing talk radio and Breitbart News to vote against their own interests. …
This is an extract from the March 2017 edition of Reform.