Never Have I Ever

resisting trump

So, there I was standing in front of a room full of cops trying to explain how this is an era the likes of which I have never seen in my life…not as a journalist, professional political observer, or a preacher. Among those who have sworn to “serve and protect,” a few heads were nodding in agreement. But, too much like the country right now, a few others verbally disagreed and exposed the severe divide that defines the United States in this infant moment of Trump.

I could not help myself as I repeated myself again and again. After all, I was one among the loud mouth protesters in 1968 who stood outside the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to greet President Lyndon Johnson during our opposition to the Vietnam War. It was the War that pushed us to the streets, the curb, outside that magnificent establishment, but it was not the person. He was the symbol and public figure. Our angst was aimed at something more.

President Johnson represented the ugly side of American foreign policy that led to the slaughter of more than 50,000 American warriors and the gross 2 million Vietnamese who died fighting to defend their homeland. Why was there all of that death and mayhem on the ground and from the air? Who benefitted from that war with its napalm and Agent Orange?

For all the noise, protests, and marching in the streets across America back then, it was not against the president; rather, we stood united against the system, the machine, the War. The cause was not personal. It was a moral battle against politics as usual and profiteers. After all, President Johnson was the courageous hero politician who used the force of his office to forge and sign the prescient Civil Rights bills that liberated the country from the stain and strain of a long, extended nightmare that shielded racial discrimination and state sanctioned inhumane policies and practices that denied Black Americans the full merits of their citizenship.

Today, there is a substantial difference as the nation faces an era that draws us back to the civil disturbances that preceded the War Between the States in the middle of the 19th Century. The closely contested campaigns through the recent National Elections for the White House have morphed into a country on the cusp of insanity and banality.

From frivolous attacks on the media to make believe charges against the democratic voting process, we have serious cause to call for concentrated consideration to bridle the President.

From frivolous attacks on the media to make believe charges against the democratic voting process, we have serious cause to call for concentrated consideration to bridle the President. There are growing numbers of American people who publicly express their grievances about the new occupant in the White House. Our system of government gives wide latitude for opposition and protest. We have the right to assemble, to stand up, and to speak out against policies and practices that do harm. But, today, the protests are not only against issues but against the person – the man – who utters incredibly dangerous platitudes and pronouncements.

Never before in my lifetime has there been such swift, immediate, and open disdain for a newly elected President of the United States. Never have I witnessed such rapid repeal of a predecessor’s progress in the tender arena of social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. This is a new era unlike any I have ever seen or even heard about in this nation.

It is abundantly clear these times require much more than speculating and spectating. Now is the time to organize in local communities to protect Sanctuary cities and institutions that have designated themselves as safe havens for individuals and families who have resided in this country and contributed to its well-being and economy without threat. Can you imagine every city across the country declaring itself a “Sanctuary City” and we all stood in solidarity with those municipalities now under threat for showing compassion?

This moment demands the presence of people of faith and goodwill to stand together in prayer and action to preserve the historical progress etched into reality over years soiled by blood, sweat, and tears. Indeed, we must stand together not only in protest but with a keen sense of purpose for the highest quality of life and recognize the true sacredness of every human person.

We must find a way to unify our country for the good of all of us and survival with dignity for our neighbors, friends, coworkers, family members, and newly arrived companions who live with fear because of unwarranted, over-reaching threats from the highest echelon of government. We can and we must do better. Never have I ever witnessed a time such as this in America.

Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs

About Art Cribbs

The Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs is the executive director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a statewide faith-based organization, that advocates for workers and immigrant rights, quality education, and health care.