Abusers Among Us

By Bill Mefford

I, like most folks I have heard from and listened to this past weekend, are deeply disturbed and disgusted by the trump tapes that came out on Friday where he talked about sexually assaulting women as well as his menacing performance at the second debate on Sunday night. We have a candidate running for the office of President who, when caught having said some of the most despicable comments about women I honestly have ever heard (in or out of locker rooms), utterly refused to be contrite or apologetic. Instead, his game plan is now to use this horrific moment in history to batter his political opponent for her husband’s sexual indiscretions in the past. The man is a sexual predator and he is the Republican candidate for the highest office in the land. I have been so disgusted by this man ever since he started his racist campaign that I have refused to capitalize his name when referring to him. He has brought the country to such a moral low it has become more than embarrassing; it is dangerous.

It is dangerous in that we are seeing a man go down in flames with absolutely no concern for the people around him nor for the country whose highest office he seeks. The debate and his total lack of contrition shows that he is toxic and has chosen a scorched earth strategy, intending to tear down Hillary Clinton in the process. He doesn’t really want to win anymore, as he has no discernable strategy to win, but he is intent on causing injury to her and the entire country. Like I said, the man is a sexual predator and he won’t stop until Hillary is crushed. It is sickening to watch.

Perhaps equally as sickening as trump’s inexcusable behavior that he has yet to genuinely apologize for, is listening to all of the political pundits and seeing all of the ridiculous posts on Facebook and Twitter that make Hillary and trump equivalent. Yes, watching the debates has been excruciating and awful, but that is the fault of one person, not both. Yes, this is an awful election, but this is largely the fault of one candidate, not both. It is trump who has behaved like a complete narcissistic jack-ass; feigning persecution from the moderators, having absolutely nothing of substance to say on any of the issues other than everything sucks, and then blaming everyone else, particularly your opponent, for everything you should take responsibility for is the mark of a sick, sick man. He is a predator and an abuser and this is what abusers do to their victims. It is the victims’ fault for the behavior of the predator/abuser.

We are running out of words with which to describe how incredibly harmful trump is both to the political process, but even more, to the specific groups that trump has targeted with his vitriol and hateful rhetoric. Hate crimes against Muslims have been on the rise and I cannot help but wonder if that is because we have a candidate for the presidency who has essentially called Muslims second class Americans and who has called for a religious litmus test to gain entrance into the country. For all the screaming his followers do about constitutional literalism, they ought to try reading it once in a while. Religious litmus tests are blatantly unconstitutional.

But what we are seeing more and more this week now is that trump is the most misogynistic man in the country. donald trump has major problems with women. He is deathly afraid of strong women. He cannot debate them one on one, not face to face, without trying to intimidate them. Like an abuser and predator.

For instance, when an African American women pastor in Flint, MI told trump to stop his stump speech attacking Hillary when he was supposed to be there to thank the church for the work they had done during the water crisis, trump responded graciously to her in person, but then the next day – when on Fox and Friends (where the hell else would he go to let loose a misogynistic tirade) – he blasted the pastor for supposedly setting him up to embarrass him. Why couldn’t he take her on when she was there standing right beside him? And when Megyn Kelly, during the first primary debate, reminded him of all of the cruel and sexist names he has used for women (though he never said any of them to anyone’s face), he refused to challenge her during the debate, but instead, made vulgar comments about her only afterwards. Why did he not go after Hillary when they were face to face during the first debate? And when he did go after Hillary in this second debate, we all noticed that he menacingly stalked her, constantly standing behind her, circling her as a predator animal stalks his prey, trying to intimidate her. Not so surprising she chose not to be intimidated, but the rest of saw what was happening and it frankly made me ill to watch it.

Intimidation doesn’t work when someone decides not to be intimidated. Intimidation also is not effective when countered by good ideas. This is why trump lost the second debate as much as he lost the first one. But make no mistake, trump is a misogynistic bully. He is a predator and an abuser. But more than anything, he is a product of a misogynistic culture where women are continually bullied and treated as less than the worth of a man; as less than human. In fact, perhaps out of all of the words trump used to objectify women on the bus when talking to Billy Bush the most insulting was when he referred to the woman they were about to meet he called her, “it.”

The worst thing about trump might be that because of his outrageous behavior we will forget that long before trump launched his clownish campaign other GOP candidates were saying that rape isn’t really rape and somehow being impregnated during a rape was something a woman could stop by themselves. Idiocy. Further, and more important, the long-standing Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood with the misconstrued goal of ending abortions is something we know would actually end in eliminating access to crucial healthcare services that Planned Parenthood offices provide for many women and which constitutes the bulk of their services. Of course, knowing they will adversely impact women’s healthcare, Republicans have never introduced a bill or described how they would replace those truly crucial forms of healthcare for women that Planned Parenthood provides if they end up defunding Planned Parenthood. The only conclusion we can come to is that they honestly do not value healthcare for women.

But a misogynistic culture is more than just the stupidity of the Republican Party. It is also seen in our churches. We see it in a group of men interviewing a friend of mine several years ago who was going through the ordination process in her denomination and was asked what she would do with her ministry when she finally got married. The insinuation was clear that his ministry was to take precedence.

The misogynistic culture is seen in all of the hateful and venomous attacks directed against the first openly gay woman elected to be Bishop in the United Methodist Church. There are many who disagree with this move by her jurisdiction, but those disagreements have far too often devolved into personal and institutional attacks on her character, her calling, and her commitment to Christ. I have to say, when donald trump incredibly said Sunday night that “Hillary has hatred in her heart, believe me,” my first thought went to Bishop Oliveto and the demonic invective that has been leveled against her by supposedly Christian leaders in the United Methodist Church, simply because she said yes to what God was calling her to do.

And as the predator/abuser trump has done with Secretary Clinton, Bishop Oliveto has been blamed for causing what seems to be an irrevocable split within the church, simply because she was chosen, due to her leadership and calling, to be a recognized leader in the church. It is clear, trump is not the only abuser in our midst.

The Misogynist-in-Chief has not appeared out of a vacuum. He was created. He fits right in. For we live in a misogynistic culture. And the truth is, just as our nation did not become racially healed when Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, we will not cease being misogynistic when Hillary becomes the 45th President.

Each of us has a lot of repenting to do. And we cannot wait for trump to do it. That will never happen no matter how Mike Pence and Fox News spin it. 

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