Hating Trump isn't hysterical, it's a rational response
Feb 16, 2017 at 3:39 PM
Trump seeks to destroy the American Dream, Mr. Plank
On Wednesday, a week after praising President Donald Trump as "passionate" and an "asset for the country" who "wants to build things" versus "think, think, think," Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank issued an open letter to Baltimore intended to "clarify to our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand" ("Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank responds to Trump tempest with letter to Baltimore," Feb. 15).
Mr. Plank's letter reads like a position paper on the American Dream. It is replete with inspirational words and promises such as "We will continue to stand for equality, diversity and opportunity for all." President Trump is never mentioned in the letter, and Mr. Plank expresses no intention to resign from President Trump's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.
To some, this letter should presumably lay to rest the "overblown" controversy regarding Mr. Plank's respect for President Trump. In a recent commentary ("Plank controversy overblown," Feb. 14), Douglas MacKinnon states that "For a growing number of activists on the left, President Trump is a lightning rod for their anger, hate and rage like no president in our lifetimes. For them, there is no compromise. There will be no dialogue. You must line up with them exactly on every single issue or else. For them, there can be no greater crime that to say something nice, rational or even neutral about President Trump."
In other words, Mr. MacKinnon sees the public outcry against Mr. Plank's praise of President Trump as an irrational or — to borrow a word that has been leveled against the left with greater frequency of late — hysterical reaction motivated by blind emotion against "Republicans and conservatives, as they see them as the enemy."
Mr. MacKinnon proposes an alternative course of action. Inviting Mr. Plank to see this as a "teachable moment," the author suggests he "host a conference on his Under Armour campus and invite those under contract to the company who have condemned him and his Trump statement to openly engage in a dialogue on the issue. Additionally, he should invite a select number of journalists to cover the event."
The response to hysterics, in other words, is a space for rational discourse. What could be more democratic than that?
The problem with Mr. MacKinnon's proposal, as with Mr. Plank's own letter to Baltimore, is that it denies the fundamental rot at the core of the Donald Trump presidency.
We are not living in a time of hardball politics. This is not like that time when Congress openly decided to obstruct the president every step of the way, no matter what the proposal. Neither is it like the time the president pushed for controversial legislation over the cries and objections of significant sectors of Congress.
This is like that time — this time, the only time in American history — when the president purposefully engaged in a campaign to undermine truth itself in order to erode the basis of our democracy to be able to exert his power as he deems fit, unfettered by the institutions our founders devised to protect us precisely from such a danger. This is a president who has entrusted the Oval Office to people whose entire professional lives have been dedicated to dismantling the progress we have worked so hard to achieve.
This is not a political disagreement. This is not about whether Republicans or Democrats will get to dictate the direction of the country. This is an ideological assault on America itself, engineered by a few powerful people on the fringes of society, thrust into power by an election rife with corruption and a targeted campaign of misinformation we thought was only possible in the Third World.
And so when Mr. MacKinnon expresses disbelief that Torrey Smith might actually "hate" President Trump, this disbelief is either disingenuous or deeply ignorant of what is really happening right now in America, of what the difference is between real and fake news. I, too, hate President Trump. This is not because of a political disagreement but because he has told us unequivocally in words and actions that his office stands for destroying the America I have come to love and call home.
Because of this, it is not good enough to say that Under Armour has values that align with the American Dream. You cannot say such a thing and praise the person committed to desecrating that very thing. And, sadly, this is also why the proposed open dialogue is an insufficient solution. Dialogue, as the word itself implies, is predicated on a logos, a common language, an accepted logic, a commitment to truth. I also pray for a space when we can have difficult conversations but we will only be lying to ourselves if we think we can have conversations with someone unwilling to speak or hear truth.