A Swedish language version of this article ran today in Aftonbladet, a daily newspaper in Sweden.
Today, Donald John Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump supporters will argue that, as President, he is deserving of our respect. He won the election, we will be told, and he is our leader, whether we like it or not. It will be argued that all Americans (myself included) should honor the position that the President holds.
This respect for the President is one that is ingrained in US citizens from a very young age, and is a part of the idea that the United States is a country different from all others. It is part of the idea that the US is a country shaped and protected by God. And, of course, if the US is a country protected by God, then it is only logical that the leader of the United States must be a person selected by God.
Finally, we will also be told that those who criticize Trump – such as politicians and journalists – will do so only because they are ideologically opposed to him.
These are arguments that both US and world citizens, regardless of their ideology or party allegiance, should resist.
The United States is not a country created and protected by God, it is a country created and protected by laws. Laws written by women and men.
People should not respect the President simply because the President holds the position. They should respect the President because the President acts in a manner worthy of respect.
And, what of the last point? That those who publicly criticize Trump do so only because they are “biased” and are ideologically opposed to his worldview? Let us consider the following about our new President:
- This is a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women.
- This is a man who mocked a disabled journalist in front of a huge crowd.
- This is a man who discussed shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood.
- This is a man who publicly insulted the parents of a US Muslim soldier killed in Iraq.
- This is a man who re-tweeted material sent to him by white supremacists.
- This is a man who for years played upon blatant racism by suggesting that President Obama was not a US citizen.
- This is a man who favored banning individuals from entering the US based on their religion alone.
- This is a man who, at the age of 46, looked at a 10-year old girl and bragged that he would be ”dating her in 10 years.”
- This is a man who called a female journalist a ”bimbo.”
- This is a man who called a Latina contestant in one of his beauty pageants ”Miss Housekeeping” (playing on racist stereotypes of Latinos as domestic servants).
- This is a man who defended the size of his penis in a nationally televised debate.
- This is a man who in 1989 took out full-page ads in several New York newspapers calling for the execution of 5 youths (four of whom were under 16, and one 16), all of whom were later proven to be innocent.
Are these political issues? No. Are they questions of ideology? No. Is being disturbed by the idea of having a President who bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” a sign that a person is politically biased? Not unless you think that being in favor of sexual assault is a valid political position. Revulsion at the list above is a sign of humanity and decency, not political opportunism.
So, as Donald Trump takes office today, let us remember that, in every county, resistance to bigotry and hatred should not be restricted by party lines or ideology. Democracy simply cannot function in an environment of insult and intimidation.
President Trump owes citizens of the United States, and the world, respect. Until that is given, we owe him nothing in return.