The Problem With Selective “Liberty”

Michael Gerson has a way with words.

His descriptions of Donald Trump are dead-on; in a recent column in the Washington Post, for example, he considered Trump’s recent attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who came to the United States as a Somali refugee, using the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and an out-of-context quotation.

It is cruel because Trump essentially delivered his political rant while standing on desecrated graves. The images he employed not only included burning buildings but burning human beings, drafted into a sad and sordid political ploy. Is nothing sacred to Trump? When said aloud, the question sounds like an absurdity. Trump has never given the slightest indication of propriety, respect or reverence. His narcissism leaves no room to honor other people or to honor other gods. Both the living and the dead matter only as servants to the cause of Trump himself.

In the remainder of the column, Gerson documents what we all know–Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot. (Not that his hatred of Islam is exclusive–like all White Nationalists, he also manages to find room for racism and anti-Semitism.)

Gerson goes through the ugly characterizations, the anti-Muslim rants.

Trump has a long history of animus — raw animus — against one of the Abrahamic faiths. He has said, “We’re having problems with the Muslims.” And: “There is a Muslim problem in the world.” And: “The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguisetheir massive Muslim problem.” And: “Islam hates us.”

The Koran, in Trump’s scholarly opinion, “teaches some very negative vibe.” He has claimed: “You have people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes.” He once called for a “total and complete shutdownof Muslims entering the United States.” He has variously and publicly considered the closing of mosques, warrantless searches and the creation of a national database to track Muslims. In Trump’s view, “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before.”

Then Gerson gets to the point: liberty is all or nothing, and Trump’s version of liberty as  “freedom only for the faiths he prefers” threatens every religion. When government has the power to “award” liberty to some and deny it to others, the people who are favored aren’t free; they simply have been granted privileges that the government may choose at some future point to withdraw. That isn’t genuine liberty.

As Gerson writes,

Religious freedom is either rigorously equal, or it becomes an instrument of those in power to favor or disfavor religions of their choice. And those believers who are currently in favor may someday discover what disfavor is like.

As a wise person once told me, poison gas is a great weapon until the wind shifts.


  1. Well, when the wind shifts, as it always does, those initiating their bigoted rants against others, will once again claim, “Christianity is under attack.”

    Media enterprises like FOX will belch out repeated story after story to show how “current leadership” is attacking Christianity in favor of ___________.

    Yep, it’s boring.

    In fact, all religions are boring. Fairy tales. Attempts at teaching morals.

    Can atheists have morals?

    The problem is the Ego which says, “I AM CHRISTIAN.” or “I AM JEWISH.” or “I AM________.”

    When we become attached to anything external, we are setting ourselves up. Nobody can take away liberty, but I can sure give it away.

    Oh, and whether you believe in it or not, Karma is a bitch. 😉

  2. Trump’s personal characteristics are well known; have been pubic news for more than four decades, along with his lack of morals and illegal business deals add up to Trump himself being “out-of-context” with the world at large. My original views regarding impeachment agreed with those still calling for this action until I realized it would be a futile endeavor and another win for Trump. Watching CNN this morning and Liz Warren’s repeated calls for impeachment, even after the released information in the Mueller Report as proof against that action, brought another solution to my mind. Keep adding to the many lists of reasons those calling for impeachment are compiling but keep in mind the process for a successful impeachment action which WILL FAIL as long as McConnell is leading the Senate. Keep in mind that a “sitting president” cannot be indicted and on the afternoon of January 21, 2021, indict Trump on the combined total of those impeachment lists which will add up to RICO charges. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO).

    “As a wise person once told me, poison gas is a great weapon until the wind shifts.”

    With or without those cancer causing wind towers; the wind will shift on Trump on January 21, 2021. The DOJ will have the “Liberty” at that time to take legal action against a former president, he will again become a private citizen.

  3. “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller.

  4. Peggy Hannon you pretty well said it all. However, because I can not keep my mouth shut I will add to what you said. First, we all know this country is in between a really dangerous rock and hard place. Elizabeth Warren and all those who, albeit being aware impeachment process would fail at this time because of Congressional division, also realize the process is merited. I too have strong feelings toward that process, however, I also know robbing the country of their right to vote/choose their own president would be unsettling if not even more devisive. The danger here is the damage that can be done between now and the election may be more than this country can bear. In addition, with all the fiddling that goes on with the election process, how certain can we be of a legal and pure process? Not just one but many rocks and hard places I see before us.

  5. With the Senate the was it is, there is slim chance that Trump will be impeached. That is fine with me. Aggressive investigations by the various committees of the House and of the SDNY will have Trump swinging and swaying and squeezed and squealing until the day he leaves office. Further exposure of his misdeeds will not enhance his favor with the public at large.

  6. Forget impeachment!!! Do you realize what a nightmare we would have with Rev Pence as president? He would actually get things done – BAD things – very bad things!!! And probably get re-elected in 2020.

  7. I recently heard a presentation on climate change. A key point was that we look backward in understanding what will happen such as 100 year flood levels when we may, in Indiana, see tremendous rainfall that will not only cause flooding but fields that are too wet.

    When I think of Trump I similarly think we are used to thinking things will be okay or the future will be good because our parents raised us that way. “This too shall pass”….I’m scared. Trump is really pushing the boundaries. I don’t have faith that we will be “okay”.

  8. We hear that people are born Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim etc. I think not; I think people are born people, a Cartesian-like tabula rasa product in wait for a religious view that families and the general society will impress upon them. I think of religion not as inbred but rather like joining up with a voluntary association, like joining up with the Masons, the Daughters of Isabella, the Rotary Club et al. Which Christian church to join, liberal or conservative synagogue, Sunni or Shia mosque, for instance, is shaped in the case of Christians by what slant a particular denomination may have on the story of this Palestinian Jew shaped for us by medieval monks and by historical differences among Jews and Muslims leading to their own slants.

    I recall vividly asking an associate in the practice years ago how he could be a deacon in a Christian church, and his reply was: “Well, Gerald, you just decide whether you believe or don’t believe, and I chose to believe.” I did not respond out of concern for the delicate subject matter, but thought to myself that those were not the only alternatives in such connection given all shades of agnosticism available. I also silently concluded that while the First Amendment guarantees the right to choose and practice religion it does not give any religion the right to tell those who choose not to choose and practice a religion how to live based on such views; nor does it give any religion the right to take tax money from non-believers or different believers for public purposes (which we are seeing in today’s public schools).

    Jesus would agree as one of the first believers in separation of church and state with his red letter admonition to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” I have to wonder if church-going legislators in Indiana and elsewhere have read and considered the implications of that statement or for that matter, others, such as his help the poor and the sick etc. – and that’s my Easter sermon this day before.

  9. Will we even get to vote in 2020? We didn’t need the Mueller report to reveal to us that there is widespread corruption and disregard for the rule of law in the White House. Mueller simply affirmed what others have pointed out as they walked away from this Administration. In the face of it all, Trump declares “No Collusion and No Obstruction” and McConnell mocks calls for justice and reform as being “laughable.”

    The nation has been overtaken by those who openly scoff at our democratic institutions and who regard our Constitution as nothing more than words on paper, to be ignored at will. Who believes that the 2020 election will be anything more than a sham election, with blue districts gerrymandered into insignificance, millions of Brown and Black voters blocked at the polls, the outcome predetermined by wealthy puppeteers who grow richer by the day with Trump in office?

  10. “‘Pubic’ news” is the delightful chuckle and the perfect Freudian slip of the day! It’s just so fitting. Thanks for the laugh, JoAnn.

  11. Here is an article on the “Liberty” to pour Industrial Bleach down your throats from the Guardian.
    A group calling itself Genesis II Church of Health and Healing plans to convene at a hotel resort in Washington state on Saturday to promote a “miracle cure” that claims to cure 95% of all diseases in the world by making adults and children, including infants, drink industrial bleach.

    The “church” is asking attendants of the meeting to “donate” $450 each, or $800 per couple, in exchange for receiving membership to the organization as well as packages of the bleach, which they call “sacraments”. The chemical is referred to as MMS, or “miracle mineral solution or supplement”, and participants are promised they will acquire “the knowledge to help heal many people of this world’s terrible diseases”.

    The FDA issued the blunt advice: “Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away.”

    A couple of decades ago another “Church” convinced their followers to drink the “Kool Aide” as the comet Hale-Bopp raced through our solar system. From Wiki: March 1997, 39 members of the cult Heaven’s Gate committed mass suicide with the intention of teleporting to a spaceship they believed was flying behind the comet.

    These examples along with Jim Jones demonstrates the extent of self destructive extremism. The question I ask myself is how do people delude themselves into following these Messiahs. One key component is the “Leader” must maintain control at all costs over the flock 24/7/365 via indoctrination. No spare time is allowed for someone to entertain rational thoughts. The zealot followers will continue to reinforce the message constantly.

    In the case of President Agent Orange he knows he must constantly create an atmosphere of chaos and his followers believe President Agent Orange is the only one that can bring order from the chaos. The followers of President Agent Orange do not see him as the epi-center of chaos, rather he will deliver them from evil, whoever, or what ever evil maybe.

  12. As much as I would love to see Trump removed from power to spend many years in a place where he doesn’t dare drop a bar of soap in the shower, I believe Linda’s comment above that he needs to remain in his current residence for the rest of his term is spot-on. From the time his holiness Pence signed on to run for VP, I am convinced that he’s just been biding his time until Trump is out of his way. He’s tried to keep a low profile which is easy to do when your boss demands the spotlight; and if he were to ascend to the presidency as a result of Trump’s removal, I agree with Linda that white smoke would billow from the White House chimney in November of 2020 as his holiness retained control for another term.

  13. As other have said, we’ve already determined that Trump is one or all of the following: MALIGNANT NARCISSIST; SOCIOPATH; PSYCHOPATH; CRIMINAL; MISOGYNIST; BIGOT;…

    He’s been getting away with being these things because he is totally abnormal to all norms of our society and the society of man. Those 62 million fools who voted for him, most of whom will NOT and NEVER admit they were wrong, are him. He is them. They aren’t going to change for anything including a nuclear holocaust that Trump might perpetrate out of pique.

    The civilized solution is to get the independent voters to vote this bastard out and all of his Republican club members in the Senate, Congress and the state houses at the same time. Other methods are for other discussions, but impeachment now is folly. Senate Republicans are simply too corrupt and spineless.

  14. Vern – The good news is that he has dropped 3% to 37% approval since Mueller’s report surfaced, suggesting that independents now know he has gone a bridge too far. I hope for another drop amongst independents as his financial dealings of money laundering and fraud are investigated by various congressional committees and states as well as perhaps (one can hope) a point or two from his base,
    Parenthetically, what he has done (and is still doing) is against the law, not some DOJ policy, i.e., he broke and is breaking the law, not some agency’s policy, and I think he should and can be prosecuted whether a sitting president or not. He can have a seat in Leavenworth, too.

  15. Liberty is noncombatable with fascism. Selective soon becomes complete exclusion. Long past time to take the word off our coins.

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