Letter: Republicans Silence on Trump’s Hate Speech Emboldens Worst Elements of Society

Letter to the editor submitted by Jonathan Perloe, Cos Cob

To say President Trump’s condemnation of assassination attempts on prominent Democrats rings hollow would be the understatement of the political season.

No sooner than Trump decried that “threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy” did he deflect attention from his culpability to that of his favorite target, the news media.

Just a few moments later — at the Wisconsin campaign rally on the day of the attacks—his astounding insincerity was revealed, when he joked, “And by the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight? This is like – have you ever seen this?”

Let that sink in. The President of the United States made light of assassination
attempts on two former presidents, not to mention a former Vice President,
Attorney General, Secretary of State and Directors of the FBI and CIA.

His tweet the following morning accused the “mainstream media” of stoking anger in our society through “purposely false” reporting “Fake News.” This, according to the Washington Post, from the man who has lied to the American public more than 5,000 times since becoming president.

When the level of racist, xenophobic, misogynistic intolerance rises to the level that we’ve seen from Donald Trump, it shouldn’t take much courage to condemn the behavior.

Yet for two years, Republicans in Connecticut have remained silent. When asked to publicly respond to Trump’s characterization of white supremacists in Charlottesville as “fine people,” they demurred. The Republican candidate for governor, Bob Stefanowski, gave Trump an “A” on his job performance.

Why does this matter? Because when hate speech from the president of the United States goes unchecked, it emboldens the worst elements of our society to take it as license to act on the provocations. And they do. Across the nation, hate crimes and incidents of hate speech have been rising since Trump was elected. It’s hardly a coincidence that the pipe bombs were sent to people who Trump routinely denounces as political enemies.

While Connecticut Democratic elected officials have been calling Trump to account since he was elected, it’s easy for Trump supporters to dismiss the critiques as partisan attempts to weaken the president. It would be more difficult to toss off appeals for civility, tolerance and unity were they to come from members of the president’s own party.

It’s no exaggeration to say our fundamental rights as Americans are threatened. If our elected officials don’t have the moral fortitude to stand up to the bigotry and mendacity so often on display by the president, how can we count on them to stand up for us when the instruments of power are turned against our citizens?

It’s happening now. The Trump administration wants to define transgender people out of existence. The Department of Justice is not defending our well-being against a lawsuit brought by Texas to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, which would take with it protection for pre-existing conditions.

President Trump sides with Vladimir Putin, against his own intelligence agencies, in refusing to believe Russia interfered with our elections (about which John McCain remarked, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president.”)

Trump routinely attempts to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the matter, calling it a “witch hunt.”

That’s hardly inconsequential considering Mueller’s team has secured six guilty pleas (four against Trump associates), a jury verdict and has 26 indictments pending. Trump’s voter fraud commission was exposed as a front to validate his unsubstantiated claims of rampant noncitizen voting, part of his ongoing effort to undermine confidence in our elections.

It’s disingenuous to say, as Republican state legislators frequently do, that this has nothing to do with Connecticut. I’m a resident of Connecticut and a citizen of the United States.

What Trump is doing has everything to do with me.

That’s why I want state legislators who will stand up to threats to our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, no matter where they come from.

Jonathan Perloe
Cos Cob