Friendship with Trump supporter is a deal breaker
To the editor:
I read with interest Rochelle O’Gorman’s recent piece, “Amplifications: Life lessons.” It is a highly personal confessional and, not knowing Ms. O’Gorman, I will not try to assess the emotions or needs underlying the new relationship she is forging with her Republican, Trump-supporting gentleman friend. Her heart is her own. But to the extent that she is sharing her life lessons in an effort to open others’ hearts and minds, her comments are fair game.
The essence of her article is: “I’m a liberal Democrat. I’ve been angry since Trump was elected. I do not like being angry. I met a man who is fun. Even though he initially lied to me about his support for Trump, I’m willing to overlook the lie and overlook his beliefs and just not talk about them in order to continue to have fun.” Well, that’s her choice. But Ms. O’Gorman adds, “Teachers come in all forms…” What I glean from Ms. O’Gorman’s account is that he is teaching the following: It’s OK to lie about your beliefs in order to start a relationship; and if, in dealing with people one-on-one, you appear to be “smart, funny, incredibly generous, and kind-hearted,” then people can laugh off or ignore your support for a president who has none of those qualities, who pursues fact-denying, racist and misogynistic policies, and who cozies up to murderous dictators while undermining American democratic and constitutional norms.
Sorry, Ms. O’Gorman. This is not about rejecting someone because you “did not like the way he voted.” Nothing about Trump is politics as usual and I suspect that, deep down, you know that to be true. The difference is, this is about morality, not politics — namely, giving tacit if not explicit support to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville; mocking a disabled reporter; jailing or tear-gassing women and children and depicting them as invading criminals instead of desperate economic refugees — the list goes on — we all know it. How does a moral person look past all that in order to get a tax cut or a few more conservatives on the bench? How does a moral person support an immoral liar? Trump, like Ozymandias, may come and go. But he has unleashed forces of hatred and intolerance that will not easily dissipate. Ms. O’Gorman takes comfort from the great Shelley sonnet about the impermanence of human arrogance and folly. Certainly, that poem should not be read as a prescription for inaction or for benign acceptance of Trump and his supporters in the here and now. What I cannot get out of my head is the sound of Pete Seeger singing, “Which Side Are You On?”
Recently, I discovered that one of my oldest and best friends, a highly educated and thoughtful person, had rejected a lifetime of beliefs and knowledge and had voted for Trump, mainly over the immigration issue. We had a long, hard talk. It was not without great emotional turmoil that I concluded to suspend my contact with him. I cannot go through the motions of friendship, which is all they would be at this point, with someone who had changed so much, whose heart had hardened and whose judgment had become so severe as to look past the evils staring him right in the face. That’s the “life lesson” I learned. I suggest it as more authentic and more clear-headed than Ms. O’Gorman’s alternative.