As an agnostic teen, I used to participate in the local BYF – Baptist Youth Fellowship. Several of my friends went (hi Ned), and some very attractive girls. And it was run by two hip Yale Divinity students, Walt and Ron (hi guys if you are out there), who were into Simon and Garfunkel, toga parties, and having fun. BYF was by far the best option for a Sunday afternoon. And in the process, I learned more about humanity and about myself than I had been picking up elsewhere.
One afternoon, Ron was directed by the church elders to lead a canned group discussion of “who am I?” Ron seemed embarrassed by the topic and after a few tentative questions, he stood silent before us, engaged in his own intensely personal struggle. Suddenly he threw his offending program notes on a chair with the exasperated exclamation, “Hell, I don’t even know who I am!”
And Walt – who taught me to my everlasting surprise that I could actually sing – taught me something else. Walt had a pet jokey phrase that he kept pulling out, “I resemble that remark.” I didn’t get it at first – there was a joke there somewhere, but where? Then one day he said, mumbled really, “I resemble that remark” in response to a particularly insensitive comment I made. I forget what I said – but I do remember the epiphany, the sudden awareness that he was letting me know that my criticism, my insensitive remark, applied best to myself. “Oh.” I don’t know if I blushed in that moment, but I still remember how it felt. Oh- that’s who I am.
So Donald Trump, at his press conference, refuses questions from CNN, and calls them “fake news”. He further invokes the image of Nazi Germany in castigating the press on their nerve in reporting on his Russian connections and possible personal misconduct. Mr. Trump, who led the fake news “birther” campaign to discredit the legitimacy of President Obama. Mr. Trump, who led chants of “lock her up”, falsely claims a landslide victory, and classifies his opponents as enemies. Mr. Trump is projecting – accusing his opponents of precisely those flaws in character to which he is most prone. Trump is the liar, the master of fake news, the demagogue invoking policies of a Nazi fascist. He is, I am afraid, beyond any possibility of self-awareness. And our time for stopping his consolidation of power may be running out.
We need to stand up, speak out, and resist.