Noted theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil…” He explained: “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” He courageously rejected silence and chose to act. The Nazis hanged Bonhoeffer in April 1945, a mere month prior to Germany’s surrender.
Ooooh if we could find even one Bonhoeffer in today’s Republican Party! Third District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, where is your courage to speak and to act? Our nation holds children in cages at our southern border and you speak with deafening silence. President Donald J. Trump promotes hatred as a path toward patriotism, and you speak with silence.
In mid-July you took safe cover among your Republicans clansmen and voted against House Resolution 489 that was a formal condemnation of the president’s multiple racist tweets denigrating four racial minority members of the House of Representatives who opposed his policies.
Your silence lends legitimacy to the president’s new American brand of fear and hatred of immigrants and people of color. Rep. Beutler, your silence is deafening! And your refusal to act is destructive cowardice. We must assume that your silence is a vote for white supremacy. Remember Bonhoeffer’s wise observations that “not to speak is to speak.”
The president inspires enmity and fuels racist violence with his dehumanizing descriptions of nonwhite immigrants. And we cannot forget that he claimed the neo-Nazis marching with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 were “very fine people.”
Trump’s ugly, bigoted rhetoric and hateful policies have provided white nationalists a false sense of validation. His bloviating attacks on immigrants have sparked a significant spike in hate crimes.
FBI statistics show significant increases in hate crimes since Trump entered national politics with his dehumanizing rhetoric.
In fact, hate crimes in 2017 increased 17 percent from the previous year. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there now are 1,020 active hate groups in the United States. A partial count includes 71 KKK, 112 neo-Nazi groups, 63 groups of racist skinheads, 49 anti-LGBT groups. This list goes on and on while you, Rep. Beutler, pretend to stand tall with deafening silence.
The president’s promotion of fanatic and even xenophobic white nationalism easily morphs into thoughtless patriotism that fosters fear of “those others.” Rep. Beutler, your patriot’s response is loud silence.
During his campaign Trump refused to criticize the Ku Klux Klan, even welcoming an endorsement by former Grand Wizard David Duke. Meanwhile Trump finds it easy to tweet tirades against people of color, denigrating Mexican immigrants “… as criminals, drug dealers, rapists.” Rep. Beutler, your silence speaks with a loud and clear voice.
Trump is a racist. It’s OK to say that out loud, Rep. Beutler! Trump’s racism is a damning fact, so go ahead and speak with more than your usual timid silent voice. Robert F. Kennedy said, “When we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom, decency and justice.” The assault rifle now is the preferred tool for lynching. Rep. Beutler, your grotesque silence actually is x-rated speech.
Albert Einstein supports Bonhoeffer’s condemnation of acting by not acting. Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but those who watch them without doing anything.”
In addition to his raging white supremacy, currently President Trump is averaging 20 lies per day, he’s admittedly an enthusiastic grabber of women’s private parts, and he’s a five-time Vietnam draft dodger who mocks war heroes. And all the while you, Rep. Beutler, vociferously speak with silent support. Lift yourself up. Be more than President Trump’s petty acolyte, and consider Bonhoeffer’s words: “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Rep. Beutler, your loud silence provides fertile soil for a growing crop of haters.
You owe your Third District congressional constituents more than loud silence!
Dave Gauger is president of Gauger Media Service, Inc., a print media brokerage firm with offices in Raymond, Washington and Hesperia, California.