Hi, I'm Edward. This weekend, I found out I'm sub-human. My wife is too, as are my neighbors and friends. My priest, my local cops and firefighters, the people trying to sell me $3 donuts at the end of the street — sub-human, all.
You see, we live in Seventh Congressional District of Maryland, and the president tells me, "No human being would want to live there."
On Friday, I had a neighborhood that was clean and green and kind. I was a human being with rights and dignity and stuff, living right where I want to live. And by Saturday, I lived in "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" that was "dangerous and filthy” and “considered the Worst in the USA."
Both rats AND rodents!
So, I looked it up. I checked median incomes and didn't see us sub-humans at the bottom. Or second from the bottom. We were 242nd from the bottom. Out of 434 Congressional districts. More or less, right in the sweet spot. We were second from the top among majority black districts. In high school and college graduation rates, we also exceeded the national mean.
Also lost on the president were a few basic civics facts: (1) A member of Congress is not the de facto governor of his or her district. (2) Baltimore and The Seventh Congressional District overlap but are not the same entity. The district includes suburban and rural districts in the outlying community. It includes the planned community of Columbia, for Pete’s sake, which is so safe it’s almost spooky. Heck, 22% of the district’s voters went for President Trump in 2016. Were they as surprised as I to find their humanity questioned?
But these are merely facts. And facts are things that have never gotten in this president’s way. While President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of state, Cordell Hull, famously wrote: "A lie will gallop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on," he could scarcely have imagined what kind of time that lie could make with the wind of Twitter at its back.
Essentially, the president left us damned by a basic logical syllogism:
A. No human being would want to live here.
B. We (my neighbors and I from the Seventh Congressional District) do want to live here.
C. Therefore we are other than human.
It’s perhaps easy to make too much of that.
Maybe President Trump was simply less than careful with his words, and the inference isn't necessary to draw. We can attribute the implications, like so many of his outrages, to a recklessness with language and a thin-skinned temperament that puts him out over his skis when he feels threatened.
But here's the problem: Dehumanization by this president is no mere turn of phrase. Dehumanization in this era can be followed by denial of basic human rights — the Muslim travel ban, the continual increasing crackdown on any and all immigration, the transgender ban in the military, attempts to establish a regime of legal torture, etc. Denial of basic human rights can result in extra-judicial detention — with facilities in every state in the union and due process treated as a quaint notion clung to by the losers and the naïve.
And detention? Detention can lead to death. And the frequency of such incidents grows continually more chilling.
This is the slippery slope toward authoritarianism. And history has shown us that it happens all the time. In small nations forgotten by time as well as great nations that once defined their very age. One day you’re a republic and then Caesar crosses the Rubicon.
I would invite anyone who still supports this malevolent disaster of a presidency to come visit us in the Seventh and see for themselves what kind of communities we have, what kind of humanity we have. I love it here. And I hope when you meet us, you’ll see why we all need to stand in solidarity against this sort of unbridled presidential malice, which is all but certain to marginalize other Americans tomorrow.
The chief executive simply threw us under the bus this weekend, and it's only a matter of time before he does the same to you. He more or less already has. Rarely has resistance been so important in this nation.
Edward Hoyt (email@example.com) is a freelance writer.