There was a Hans Christian Andersen story I loved as a child. It was called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It was about a pompous and not-very-bright emperor whose tailors play a trick on him: they pretend to make him a new outfit to wear, but they don’t use fabric; they tell him the fabric is invisible to anyone who is a fool. And the emperor says nothing, because he doesn’t want to be branded a fool.
The entire town falls under this spell; no one can see the fabric but no one says so for fear of being branded a fool. Finally, the emperor is paraded through town in his “new clothes,” meaning he is buck naked. Everyone keeps pretending; his tailors laugh and scoff at his idiocy and that of the gullible fools around him. Then a child stands up at the parade and declares that the emperor is completely naked and the whole charade falls apart.
Ever since Trump got elected, I feel like we are living in a version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Many of us are watching with our mouths agape – why don’t other people see what we see? – while those who supported the President seem blind to the problematic decisions and behavior of both the President and those who work with him every day. I feel like that child at the parade, shouting, “Don’t you realize what you’re seeing? Don’t you see what he’s doing and how this makes America look?”
This week, a few things happened that made me feel obligated to react and to call out this kind of conduct, by both the President and his staff.
- Trump announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Accord. So. Here’s the deal. We are killing the planet. Every respectable recognized agency on the planet knows it. Facts don’t lie. People who don’t want to believe it basically fear the government telling them to raise their thermostat more than they fear the death of the planet. Katharine Heyhoe brilliantly discusses this in any number of her talks. Trump pulling out of this accord – an accord among over 190 parties designed to unite the world in saving the world – has thrown the world into yet another chaotic spin because of his ignorance and incompetency. Neither he nor anyone in his cabinet will clearly state the President’s position on climate change, but his actions speak for him. We are the laughing stock of the world yet again. It’s irresponsible, it’s disgusting, and it’s diabolically evil.
- The Kushner Madness is out of control. As an observing Jew, I have been very disturbed by the emphasis on the “Jews in the White House” – both the excitement about it (by mostly wealthy Jews) and the disdain of it (by mostly bigots or people eager to be pissy about Jews running the world and/or the media). Kushner has very disturbing corrupt connections with Russia and is known to have suggested back channel communication with the Kremlin which is bad news bears all over town (forgive the expression). And now Ivanka is being touted as the most influential Jewish woman in America, but at least half of America would likely disagree that she’s any kind of role model. What is going on with this Kushner madness? Shady is shady is shady. I’m over it. I don’t care about them praying at the Western Wall; I’m not interested in them just because they’re Jewish and in the White House. I care about corruption and Russian tampering with the US election that landed us here and about Trump not embarrassing us as a country. The only Kushner news I’m interested in would be if they managed to stop the President from making these colossal blunders. Speaking of which… .
- The President has no decorum. London is attacked and all Trump can do is tweet like a drunk 17-year-old with a million exclamation points and basically try to say “I told you so!”, referring to his ban which NO JUDGE IN THIS COUNTRY WILL UPHOLD. He misquoted the London mayor, implying that the mayor was unconcerned by this week’s attacks . He gets bent out of shape at any comedic treatment or satire aimed at him, but is unbothered that the world is literally holding us up for ridicule because of him on a daily basis?
- Covfefe is a TYPO. I had no clue what was going on with this and I looked it up. The man with the ability to start wars (which he seems to be trying to do with Korea) and fire weapons of mass destruction is sending incomplete tweets with typos. But that’s not even the worst of it. The worst of it – the “Emperor’s New Clothes of it” – is that his spokesperson Sean Spicer literally claimed that the President and a select number of individuals knew exactly what that meant. Why are even trump supporters okay with lies like this coming out of the White House? He totally made a blunder and tweeted it to millions of people. And then Spicer lied about it. If they lie about typos we all know are typos, be worried, America.
This farce of a Presidency is tragic for the environment. It’s tragic for world diplomacy. It’s tragic for America. It’s tragic to have to explain to my children what is going on. It’s tragic that so many people still think this is fun, to have a petulant, volatile reality show star billionaire running our country, which was once so great.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I am scared every day to check out the news. In the eyes of his supporters, the trappings of his presidency are glorious and making America great. But the rest of us have to say something.
Here’s what I’ll tell my kids: if you see something that isn’t true, if you see a leader parading a lie as if it is fact or truth, then say so. Shout it from the rooftops.
My grandparents fled persecution and death to find a country where they could be free and do things they never could in their countries of origin. This country opened its arms for them and my parents went to school and made a life for themselves that could not have had anywhere else in the world.
This is my country and I want it back. I am counting the days until America is great again.