As he took office near the beginning of the Civil War – a conflict that would kill by one estimate 750,000 Americans – President Abraham Lincoln concluded in his first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Lincoln was the first Republican president. I wish his Republican descendant – Donald Trump – would look back at his predecessor and follow his advice. Lincoln tried to unite the country. Trump has done nothing but divide it.
I won’t list all the ways he has done this the past three years. The most recent example will be good enough. Monday, June 1, I watched on television as police and military moved peaceful protesters further away from the White House prior to his address on the lawn. In that speech, Trump threatened to use the U.S. military to “quickly solve the problem.” Unlike some other countries, the United States does not use its military to put down protests. States have used their National Guard in emergencies, but deploying the active-duty military is another matter.
“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement offices to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said in his speech.
Trump did not mention that police and protesters in cities across the nation have reported that much of the looting and other violence has been committed by opportunist criminals and outside agitators. The focus should be on the criminal troublemakers, not protesters, whose actions are protected by the First Amendment. It’s not a matter of police vs. protesters. In some cases, police officers have knelt in support of the protests or have hugged protesters.
We’ve all seen it. A police officer kneeling on the neck of a man that already was handcuffed and restrained by other officers. The death of a man in Minneapolis may be the incident that finally will cause us to deal with the holocaust that is the African-American experience in this country. It’s been the advent of social media that finally has forced us to look at what’s been going on for too long.
Sadly, our current president is not the man to deal with the country’s current crisis. Although I haven’t agreed with all of their actions, there have been several good Republican presidents – Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump isn’t one of them.
The writer is a retired reporter for the Sidney Daily News.