Tag Archives: moral cowardice

The Incomparable Leonard Pitts

Among the columnists I admire–and, admittedly, envy for their eloquence–is Leonard Pitts. Pitts, for those unfamiliar with him, writes for the Miami Herald, but his column is widely syndicated.

Pitts recently wrote “An open letter to all you privately disgusted Republicans,” and in it (unlike our demented President) he really “tells it like it is.” He began by quoting former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent, who recently told CNN that his former colleagues continue to support Trump publicly because they fear the base, but “having spoken to many of them privately, they’re absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the president’s behavior.”

Pitts response was acerbic.

As the scope of Trump’s abuse of power grows ever more obvious, as his contempt for the rule of law grows ever more plain, as leaders of your party offer ever more threadbare justifications and rationalizations for that which is neither justifiable nor rational, we receive word that you folks are “privately … disgusted?”

As Rick Perry and others claim Trump as God’s “chosen one,” as a new Economist/YouGov poll finds that most Republicans rank him a better leader than Lincoln himself, as the party grows ever more indistinguishable from a cult, with Trump as he who must not be questioned, he whose wisdom is beyond mere mortal ken, we hear that off the record, you lot are “very concerned?”

One struggles for adjectives to convey how little that means, how insignificant is the comfort it offers.

Pitts is giving voice to the majority of American citizens who are not part of the cult, who are watching with increasing panic as men and women elected to tend the nation’s business violate their oaths of office by elevating their political prospects over the national interest, and remaining silent–supportive–while the administration dismantles and defiles our government.

Indiana has sent people to Washington that I know personally; I know they understand how appalling this President is, and how deeply he is damaging the country. Yet there has not been a peep, not a dissenting vote–party has consistently trumped integrity. (And yes, I used “trumped” intentionally.)

Pitts says it far better than I can:

Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King issued a warning: “If you fail to act now, history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

King was addressing white racial moderates, but it is remarkable — and disheartening — how well his warning fits you, who have prioritized your own political backsides above truth, above honor, above national interest. As the country lurches toward a precipice from which it will not recover, you count votes. In a time that demands every good man and woman raise their voices, you embrace the appalling silence instead….

We are posing for history here, ladies and gentlemen. One day we will be judged by what we said and did not say, the stands we took and did not take, in this moment of peril. And you, the party of Reagan and Eisenhower, T.R. and the apparently overrated Lincoln, are coming up well short. Where is your courage? Who broke your moral compass?

Enough with your private disgust and off-the-record concern. The times are calling. They demand you stand up like American women and American men — stand up like John McCain would long ago have done — and speak what you know to be true, what we all know to be true.

Or else, at the very least, please shut up completely. Let the rest of us mourn our country in peace.