I am really absolutely the last person anyone would expect to speak out on behalf of Donald Trump, so don’t let my words here be misconstrued in anyway to be in support of this man, his policies, his position, or his very bad behavior.
My assessment of Trump has not changed from the moment he stood before a mic and trashed a Gold Star father. If anything, his behavior following that event has only deteriorated to a low beyond anything normal, decent or even humane.
Now that we have cleared the air on that, I do, however, think that the editors at New York magazine have made a very bad call. Not that the editors give two hoots about my opinion, but still, as a journalist, as an author, as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, as a human being, I think they made a grave error in judgment with their latest cover depicting a close-up of Donald Trump with a pig snout.
It’s just wrong.
When I read articles on Trump, I do so with the intention of elevating the discourse. I want to learn something I didn’t know. I want a fresh perspective. Often, I am seeking a new way of thinking about the troubling things of life. I search for smart writing that challenges me, informs me, entertains me and often makes me revisit an assumption. Perhaps the cover article, Corruption, Not Russia, is Trump’s Greatest Political Liability does all those things. I don’t know because I haven’t yet read the cover story. I haven’t been able to get past the cover.
It’s hypocritical of me to call anyone out for the way they dehumanize Trump. I admit that. Though, in all fairness, Trump fails to give any of his critics reason to be all warm and fuzzy towards him. Still, I think the New York’s cover is every bit as rude and demeaning as Trump’s ugliest behaviors.
Not a day goes by that I don’t marvel over the way Obama was able to maintain his cool in light of the horrific things Trump was doing and saying about Obama leading up to the 2016 election. That whole birther movement thing that Trump started was beyond the pale and racist in every which a’ way. I honestly don’t know how Obama didn’t sucker punch Trump for all that ugliness. But let’s face it, Obama is more Christ-like in his choices than half the leaders of the Evangelical church right now. Faced with a daily barrage of ugliness, Obama rose above it. He continues to rise above it. Maya Angelou would be proud:
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries? …
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
On most every public occasion, Obama has been the better man than Trump. Kinder. Sweeter. More compassionate. More forgiving. In every instance, where Trump sinks lower, shooting for the lowest common denominator, Obama calls us to be a better people. For eight years, Obama modeled grace to us. He showed us how silence can be a more powerful response than cussing someone out. Without repeating Maya’s words verbatim, Obama has showed each and everyone of us how to rise with class and dignity, with good-hearts and intentional actions.
Which is why it is so very disappointing that editors would sink so low.
Such a provocative cover is designed specifically to sow discord among people. While Trump may behave in piggish ways, that doesn’t call for the editors anywhere to do the same. It’s almost as if we all are shouting “Neener! Neener!” over the fence at the fellow rooting in the mud. How is that helpful?
I struggle every single day to find something redemptive about Trump, about this administration. I have cussed more in the past year-and-half than in my entire prior life combined. So I’m hardly the role model for being a better people than this. But even in the midst of all my frustration, anger, and yes, even hatred, I can still recognize what it means to wallow.
My friend Gordon, a true-to-life Appalachian hillbilly, used to talk about the “wallering seasons”. Seems the editors of New York by-passed Spring and headed straight for the wallering season. They might feel justified in depicting Trump with a pig snout on the cover of their magazine, but such a depiction does nothing to elevate any of us. It does nothing to elevate the discourse.
It simply drags us all down to Trump’s level of wallering.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A novel (Mercer University Press).