Divided We Fall: How Anger Has Become The National Emotion

Despite my best efforts to stay away from politics I find I am unable to pull myself out of the fray. I watched a video the other day of an elderly man in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb located a few miles south of Las Vegas, confront a group of Hispanic construction workers and berate them, calling them wetbacks and demanding to see their immigration papers. The video went viral. When a local reporter went to the man’s home to interview him, the man said he hopes that Trump deports them all when he becomes president. Here are just some of the things the man said:

“Just by looking at him you know goddamn well they’re illegals.”

“I think this asshole is illegal.”

“They’re wetbacks, they’re illegals. Get them the fuck out of this country.”

I can’t explain how angry it made me to see that video. I was shocked and saddened but mostly I was angry. It awakened the inner barbarian. I had an overwhelming desire to punch him in the face. Repeatedly. Until I beat the toxic, racist, hateful meanness out of him. This man’s behavior, and similar behavior by so many others, has been labeled the “Trump Effect.” Trump is an elitist, racist, misogynist and all-around worthless human being with no redeeming value. However, Trump did not create this man’s racist behavior, it was always there Trump just awakened it and blessed it with his vile rhetoric. Trump has tapped into a national vein of anger and what we are seeing today has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with exploiting the human condition.

The middle-class is angry because they feel that they are being over-taxed on the money they have worked hard to earn so that it can be distributed to those who don’t work and who milk the system for benefits they don’t deserve. The rich, Like Trump, want to keep more of their money and resent any attempt to increase the amount of tax they have to pay, regardless that the middle-class and those less able to afford higher taxes bear the burden. Black folks are tired of being harassed, profiled and beaten or killed by police or discriminated against in other ways. The law enforcement community is angry for being targeted because of the bad behavior of a few rotten apples that has put all of their lives in jeopardy. White folks feel they are being held responsible for the past transgressions of their ancestors and have to bow to the wants and desires of minority rule. Many Americans feel disenfranchised and believe the American dream no longer exists, or at least not for them. We now have movements such as Black Lives Matter, Police Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, deport the illegals, build a wall and on and on and on.

I have to admit that until this election, I believed America had finally moved away from racism. We elected our first black president in 2008, which seemed to me at the time to be not only an incredible achievement but a statement on how racism was withering into a distant memory of how we once were and what we have overcome. That we had become better as a people. That the disease of racism had been eradicated like polio and smallpox. After all, our skin color is only 1.5 millimeters (.059 inch) deep. That is all that separates us biologically and racially. Do you hate your spouse or your child or your parent because they differ from you by 1.5 millimeters? Surely not. We are much more alike than we are different. We should all realize this and embrace it but too many of us don’t. So, it is with great sadness that I must report that racism is alive and well. Like the virus that resists the vaccine and comes back stronger than before.

Why do we have to have any movements about which lives or whose lives matter? Every life matters. Every single life is unique and precious and there is no one life that matters more or less than another. Our Constitution states that we are all created equal. If you are a religious person, then you know that Jesus hung out with thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors and murderers because they were more than their transgressions. They were human beings deserving of compassion and forgiveness not condemnation. If you are Jewish, Muslim or any other religion, you will find similar teachings to love and respect your fellow man. I’m not preaching liberal mumbo jumbo but basic human compassion, love and respect. For those of you who are disciples of Trump’s platform of hate and division, explain to me what is so awful about illegal immigrants? Can you tell me why you feel justified at looking at them as less than human beings who differ from you by only 1.5 millimeters? Is it illegal immigrants you hate or all immigrants?

Webster’s Dictionary defines an illegal immigrant as “a foreign person who is living in a country without having official permission to live there.” Hmm. It doesn’t say anything about being rapists, murderers and drug dealers. I hate to tell you this but we are all temporary residents of this planet. The borders we have are man-made. Whether you believe in the Big Bang Theory or the Big Man Upstairs, the earth was not created with borders. We put them there. And every so often we move them around through war, invasion, occupation, good old dictatorship. See Russia. See also Americans Steeling America from Native Americans. Those who live in glass houses and all but you get the point. So, the fact that a person from another country — let’s be honest, you folks really mean Mexicans, Arabs and anyone brown — doesn’t have a piece of paper that legally transforms them from illegal to legal, they should be shipped back from whence they came. Families should be torn apart, parents separated from children, you get the picture. You’re cool with that. Those of us who were so damn fortunate to be members of the lucky sperm club, to be born in this great country and have all the incredible opportunities we are blessed to have should know best why so many people are so desperate to come to the United States any way they can, even illegally. YOU didn’t DO anything special to be born in America. YOU weren’t chosen to be here because you are more special than anyone else. You just got lucky. Likewise, nobody chooses to be born into poverty or war. And when drug cartels, despots, dictators, warlords and other bad actors tear a country and its people apart, what do you want them to do? Mexicans want to raise their children where they will have the opportunity to get an education and become anything they want to become. Syrians want to raise their children in a country where they don’t have to worry about an artillery shell dropping through their roof. How do you tell these people to get out, we don’t want you? What happened to showing compassion to those in need? The only difference between you and “them” is 1.5 millimeters and a piece of paper. Try wrapping your shriveled little mind around that fact.

Poverty is created by bad politics not lazy people. This may come as a shock to some of you Trump-ettes but most people don’t like to be poor. They like to eat and have clean clothes and healthy environments. People come to America looking for work and opportunity because they don’t have either in their home country. To those who argue that illegal immigrants are taking “our” jobs I say you’re idiots. Truly, you are. Embrace the fact that you’re stupid and then do what you can to fix it. Try turning off the TV and reading a book, one with out pictures. Because I don’t see you people lining up to pick fruit and vegetables. I don’t see you people lining up outside of Home Depot looking for work as day laborers. I don’t see you working as cooks in Chinese restaurants, or cleaning offices or public bathrooms or working at any of the unpleasant hard jobs that illegal immigrants are happy to have because these jobs allow them to give their families something they could never give them in their country of birth — a life. And, according to a March 1, 2016, U.S. News & World Report article by Andrew Serge, illegal immigrants pay $12 billion per year in state and federal taxes, which is $12 billion more than Trump has paid in taxes in the last 20 years.

We have lost our way. We have embraced bad behavior. We have forgotten civility. We celebrate the worst of humanity. Do I need to say more than the Kardashians and The Batchelor? We have become an international joke. So it is no wonder that so many Trump-ettes gleefully embrace Trump’s racism and hate and are not the least bit troubled by a recently released recording of Trump talking about sexually abusing women. Let’s be honest, if there was a tape of Obama saying exactly what Trump said, the outrage would have been something of a different quality. It would be a racist’s wet dream. Are you Trump-ettes ok with your son grabbing a woman’s vagina against her will? Would you be ok with a man grabbing your wife’s or daughter’s or sister’s or mother’s vagina against her will? That would be ok, right? Are you ok with other men referring to your daughter as a “piece of ass” as Trump said to Howard Stern? That’s just locker room jocularity. And don’t give me any nonsense about Hillary’s emails or Benghazi as a defense to Trump’s racism and sexually abusive behavior. You didn’t have a problem with George Bush’s bullshit reason for invading Iraq that claimed the lives of thousands of American soldiers. What weapons of mass destruction? It didn’t bother you when in 2007 it was revealed that the Bush administration and staffers used a private email server run by the Republican National Committee. Hillary Clinton was investigated for using a private email server and the FBI did not bring any criminal charges. I know, I know, it’s a conspiracy. But here’s the reality, it doesn’t matter what party you’re with, you’re going to raise this garbage about the other side. If an investigation results in charges then it’s a witchhunt. If an investigation finds no evidence of criminal wrongdoing then it’s a cover-up. Even that freak show Trey Gowdy couldn’t come up with anything meaningful after investigating Clinton on Benghazi but that hasn’t stopped the Republicans from politicizing the deaths of four Americans.

One final thought. In his October 13, 2016, National Review article, Charles Krauthammer said the following about Trump’s statement the day after the last debate that Clinton should be put in jail:

Such incendiary talk is an affront to elementary democratic decency and a breach of the boundaries of American political discourse. In democracies, the electoral process is a subtle and elaborate substitute for combat, the age-old way of settling struggles for power. But that sublimation works only if there is mutual agreement to accept both the legitimacy of the result (which Trump keeps undermining with charges that the very process is “rigged”) and the boundaries of the contest. The prize for the winner is temporary accession to limited political power, not the satisfaction of vendettas. Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez, and a cavalcade of two-bit caudillos lock up their opponents. American leaders don’t.

The threat of imprisoning a political opponent may score points with his political supporters but it is the language of dictators and political thugs and it should concern anyone who cares about freedom, the Constitution and the rule of law for which Trump has shown very little use.

Trump is stirring the pot and bringing it to a dangerous boil. He will say and do anything to win the presidency and he doesn’t care about the cost. The cost is national divisiveness. Do you Trump-ettes really think America will be better off under a man who fosters racism and division? After all the hard work to heal old wounds and come together not as black, white or brown but as Americans. As human beings. Are we going to let 1.5 millimeters of color separate us again? Are we going to tell someone they don’t have a right to make a life because they didn’t get a piece of paper? What would you do for your children? How far would you go for your family? What are “they” any different or less deserving? We need to see each other as human beings. We need to have compassion and stop making it “us” against “them.” There is no “them,” there’s just people. Anger and hate have no place in this great country and if we give into that we won’t be a great country for long.

About Brian Roberts

Brian M. Roberts is a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor. He has prosecuted virtually every type of state case and has an even broader defense background. He participated in the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as a member of the defense team for the former president of what was known as the Republic of Serbia – Autonomous Region of Krajina Crisis Staff. He is fluent in Serbo-Croatian and conversant in Spanish. Brian appreciates that people who find themselves facing criminal charges literally come from all walks of life. Additionally, Brian is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Connect with him on twitter: @BMRlawyer.