We strive in this town to develop positive attitudes through social-emotional learning programs for our youth, and increased awareness of the less fortunate. Kindness programs abound in our schools and adults flock to events hosted by Hearts of Hope and Ben’s Bells. It is with the hope that we are building a culture sensitive to the needs of others and one that will lead to a harmonious future that we examine our words and actions, that we care about the face we present to those outside our borders.
So when the Commander in Chief denigrates through coarse language the homelands of hundreds of thousands of people who live in the United States, it is an affront to our community and the whole country.
Stating a preference for the people of countries with strong economic and social governments to those that struggle under impoverished circumstances is not only unfair, but emphasizes an inability to finesse difficult situations and a lack of world knowledge — and smacks loudly of a privileged attitude. It is a chilling preview of a future when the lamp of Lady Liberty is extinguished, her back turned on the ones she once beckoned to a better life. It is not hard to believe that her hands might fall to cover her ears and that she might march right off of her pedestal in disgust, and wade back to the country of her origin.
Name calling less fortunate countries (and by implication, their people) is inappropriate and creates embarrassment for all Americans. We are ridiculed by allies and enemies alike, who see a country led by a schoolyard bully as an alarming situation. The BBC reported on January 12 that African Union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told the Associated Press “… the statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.” Haitian activist Rene Civil demanded an apology.
“I am sickened and appalled by the reported statements,” Governor Dannel Malloy said in a statement issued last week, a sentiment echoed by numerous other leaders. Senator Tony Hwang released a statement denouncing the president’s words. “For me, it’s personal. I am an immigrant… Our diversity and inclusivity makes America the greatest country in the world. When our President says such hurtful and disrespectful things, it minimizes our standing in the world and nationally you have to wonder, When is the next group going to be singled out and maligned?”
The President denies the actual words reportedly used to describe various nations; but using any language that causes those present to recoil is more than regrettable; it is unacceptable. The leader of the United States is expected to model an attitude of respect toward other nations.
It would do our President well to take part in some serious self examination and ask himself “What does it mean to command a people?” Citizens of the United States must demand that our leader command in a manner faithful to the tenets of this country — and be respectful of our community and those who mirror our efforts.