Charles E. Richardson

Obama and Trump are God’s gifts

For just a minute, I want to be brutally honest, the election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office on Earth has cost me some acquaintances, as did the election of Barack H. Obama. Amazingly, for the same reasons.

Before Obama and Trump, I would have called some of them “friends,” but if there were ever candidates who brought out the true nature of people, it was Obama and Trump. Both are God’s gifts, but in very different, contrasting ways.

This past week, if you didn’t realize it already, Trump revealed what’s in his heart. Those who support or supported him can’t say they were bamboozled. Trump didn’t hide who and what he was during his campaign for president. He made it clear what he thought of immigrants, blacks, the disabled, women, the LGBTQ community and a long list of “others.”

Many bought his honesty, hook, line and sinker. Why? Because something in his words reflected what is truly in their hearts, too. Some supporters held out hope he would change once taking the oath of office. Not.

That heart-felt passion — some would call hate — was on full display during the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it presented the leader of the free world an opportunity to take a stand against the full gamut of white supremacy — from the Ku Klux Klan to Nazis — and Trump blew it.

The Charlottesville riot was over that city’s attempt to rinse itself of centuries of intolerance with the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Similar moves are spreading across the country — even to the little hamlet of Macon.

Unlike the president, let me be crystal clear on my first attempt. Three decades ago I advocated for the Confederate statue at the triangle at Second Street and Cotton Avenue to be destroyed. My view has evolved. I could now care less about Confederate monuments. These monuments are not about me, but they are a reflection of what’s in the hearts of the white community. This is their issue to own. They put them up, it’s up to them — for their own sake — to take them down or not.

The words of their own ancestors in the Articles of Secession and Declarations of Causes make whatever argument moot about the nobility of the “Lost Cause.”

There is no need to recount every broken promise this country has made to the various shades of people of color since its inception to wonder how and why we got to this point. All of the progress made on the legal front from the right to vote to public accomodations to drinking from the same water fountains are just window dressing unless there is a change in the hearts of people.

So why is Trump God’s gift? There is an old song (released 1971) by the Temptations, “Smiling Faces Sometimes.” The lyrics are revealing:

“Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend.

Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within.”

Donald J. Trump tore the covers off the secrets some people have been keeping deep in their souls. He has emboldened the ugly underbelly — the real swamp dwellers — who now feel it’s OK to live out their fantasies and take to the streets in paramilitary gear in places like Charlottesville. But I’m not worried about them.

The lyrics go on to say, “Beware of the handshake that hides the snake,” and the line that has always stuck with me: “Remember, a smile is just a frown turned upside down.”

Trump’s limp response rto Charlottesville lifted the fog from the excuses some have used as reasons they voted for him. They have to realize now they are full-fledged members of the “Yes, But Club.” Other Trump voters are in full-scale retreat repulsed by what they see in him — and in themselves.

I won’t attempt to climb into their heads to examine the validity of their motives, that’s impossible. It is possible to limit my exposure to those who can’t recognize the reflection of their own depravity exemplified in the man they elected to sit in the Oval Office, or fail to realize why they had such a lack of respect for his predecessor.