September 3, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Call Out Trump’s Immorality
Sure, it's obvious. Call it out anyway. Lives depend on it.
My goal here at the Editorial Board is to say something new every business day for citizens seeking to actualize the ideal of self-government. That means I’m choosy about topics. I avoid things that are self-evident in what they teach us about us.
But there are times when I have to set aside that standard to say what’s so obvious to everyone but so in need of being said. For instance, that it’s wrong for the president to cancel a trip to Poland—in order to memorialize World War II dead—so he can play golf; that it’s wrong to say he’s canceling his trip so he can monitor Hurricane Dorian but, actually, so he can play golf; that it’s wrong for the president to play golf on his own properties hundreds of times since taking office; that it’s just so wrong for the president to have played golf on his own properties hundreds of times while having spent his pre-presidential days savaging the previous president for playing golf.
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The moral wrongs are myriad: hypocrisy, fraudulence but especially plain-old corruption. Donald Trump told the vice president that instead of staying in Dublin during his overseas trip to Europe that Mike Pence should stay at Trump’s golfing resort on the other side of the country. Why? It’s so obvious I’m a bit embarrassed pointing it out to you: he’s bilking the American people. It has cost the Secret Service alone more than half a million dollars just to rent golf carts at his properties.
It’s also completely obvious that Trump doesn’t care about these myriad moral wrongs, because, to him, morality is for suckers. This president wears his belief in social Darwinism on his sleeve. He glorifies the notion that the strong must eat the weak for the benefit of the human species, and that any counterargument is just another form of fraud. The difference, in the president’s mind, is that at least he’s honest about it.
Survival of the fittest, which is what social Darwinism is, is surely what motivated the administration’s recent decision to deport immigrants, some of them children, with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. (About a thousand people a year are given “deferred action” as a form of humanitarian relief.) It doesn’t matter that they’ll suffer after leaving. What matters is that they don’t belong here. If they die as a result, well, so be it. As Fox News’ Tucker Carlson once said, in a different context: “You’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country—it means killing people.”
Survival of the fittest is surely what motivated the administration’s decision to deport Jimmy Aldaoud. Aldaoud was born on a refugee camp in Greece where his parents fled to escape religious persecution in Iraq. (They were Chaldean Christians, an oppressed minority in the Middle East.) He arrived in the United States when he was about 1 year old. He was a diabetic and a paranoid schizophrenic. A minor criminal record—e.g., disorderly conduct—was probably attributable to that mental disorder. (The government said Aldaoud’s criminal record was the reason for his removal order.)
Though he lived in Michigan nearly his entire life, spoke no Arabic and did not know Iraq from Mars, the administration deported him. He was a pauper living on the streets of Baghdad when he died. He could not find insulin. Aldaoud was 41. The administration knew all this. Everyone involved did. It deported him anyway. The administration’s actions were the near moral equivalent of premeditated murder.
The administration has allowed Aldaoud’s body to be brought back to Michigan to be buried alongside his mother. It wasn’t OK for Aldaoud to be here while he was alive. It’s OK now because he’s dead. “You’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country—it means killing people,” Carlson once said. Dying is what the weak do.
The president isn’t strong. That’s obvious. (He certainly isn’t the fittest. That’s obvious, too!) Also obvious is that social Darwinism is how terrible people rationalize doing terrible things. Not so obvious, perhaps, is the social Darwinists are in on the con.
If they really believed the strong must survive for the benefit of the species, they would not back down from deporting sick immigrant children. But that’s precisely what the administration did Monday. It would “reopen the process that helped some seriously ill migrants to defer deportation while receiving life-saving care” per NBC News.
Trump’s belief system isn’t worth defending, not when push comes to shove, and that’s because it’s nothing of the sort. When you don’t believe in anything except power, there’s nothing to stand on when motivated opponents who do believe in something, like protecting the weak and caring for the sick, bring their power down on you.
There’s a lesson here for me, perhaps for you, too. Call out immorality. Every time.
Even when it’s obvious.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.