THE QUICKSAND OF CRUELTY

In keeping with the bombastic cruelty of Donald Trump, who has no problem going after a disabled journalist, a gold-star family, women, immigrants, and anyone who criticizes him, an aid named Kelly Sadler has now hit a new low by saying that it doesn’t matter if John McCain opposes the nomination of Gina Haspel because “he’s dying anyway.” This, of course, is not the first time Senator McCain has been maligned in this New World Order of Donald Trump. There was Trump’s comment about how he wasn’t a hero because he was captured. Then there was the recent public dig at him because he voted down the health care bill. I imagine that John McCain isn’t really bothered by what Trump or any other little Trumpians say about him. But the rest of us should be.

If we are going to accept that, because someone is in the public eye, they’re fair game for anything, and no level of cruelty or ridicule is out of bounds, then we have not only lost our moral compass as a society, we are already drowning in a wide sea of mud. There is no moral leadership from the White House, so no one should look there. But does that really mean that the rest of us can now abandon all sense of decency, all measure of compassion, simply because the man at the top gets off on verbally slaughtering people? If Donald Trump is now presiding over our morality, we’re lost.

In 1994, shortly after my father announced that he had Alzheimer’s, I ran into a man who at that time was a regular on Howard Stern’s show. I’d done Howard’s show a couple of times and had met this man briefly. I was living in New York at the time, was out with friends, and he came bounding over to me. He said, “I have a new joke in my stand-up routine. What’s the first thing Ronald Reagan forgot now that he has Alzheimer’s — his daughter’s phone number.” Tears sprang into my eyes, I could barely speak, but I managed to say, “That’s not funny.” And I walked away. The next morning, early, a friend called and said, “You have to call into Howard Stern’s show right now. He’s begging you to call in because you need to be apologized to.” Apparently, Howard had been ripping this guy apart on air for being so unkind and insensitive. I called in, got the apology, but I can’t say I forgave the guy. Howard Stern is often accused of crossing lines, but I would submit that he has a really good moral compass and calls out cruelty when he sees it.

So should the rest of us. This cannot become the new normal. Everyone is entitled to civility and kindness, whether you are famous or not. Whether you are white or black, Hispanic or Muslim. Whether you are male, female, gay, straight, transgender. Whether you are Republican or Democrat. Donald Trump doesn’t live by that rule. We can’t let him and those in his administration pull us down to their depths. Because once down there, it’s almost impossible to climb out.

 

2 Responses to THE QUICKSAND OF CRUELTY

  1. Katherine Turcotte says:

    Thank you Patti. I lost my dad to brain cancer, the same kind John McCain has. It was a cruel comment from someone that should have thought before they opened their mouth, alas, we have a President that just spurts off whatever comes to his mind. I would like to think there is karma for cruelty like that. I am sorry about what was said to you also, that would have deserved a smack in the face but I guess I would be too horrified that it was said to begin with.
    We, as a nation need to get a grip on this mentality that is becoming more heartless and compliant to someone that does not deserve it.

  2. David Marks says:

    I’m not so certain I could have been so generous about letting Howard Stern off the hook, Patti, although I respect your decision for having done so. Although hardly your point, it’s true…I’ve seen his operatives engage people in crude and harmful verbal exchanges, as if they worked freelance, and wondered whether Stern even knew about it. Still, I must tell you how very sorry I am that this occurred to you, and yes, of course it saddens me that you experienced such an affront to your own internal emotional universe, and frankly, I’m certain I would have responded as did you. I watched McCain’s daughter discussing her reaction to Trump’s staffer making that cruel comment about her father, a great man, dying from a terrible disease, and I actually wept for her. It threw me back to my own parents, and the way they died, the hours that separated their deaths, and the obvious pain they went through, and by extension, the pain I suffered. I could not imagine the horror McCain’s daughter suffered, and thank God she had a nation behind her, supporting her, not only her tears and her grief, but what may be an eternal level of insurmountable grief. Comments about sick and/or dying parents, people whose lives manifest in the public eye, make the world the coldest of places, and only through the warmest and most supportive hearts, does anyone overcome such agony. I am so sorry for you, and like you, for McCain’s articulate, fragile, yet sound and mature daughter, but let’s be clear: there is no excuse for Trump’s kind of culture reset in America, where comments such as the the one about John McCain, or the likes of the several made to you from a Howard Stern operative, are inexcusable and heartless. Good for you for making this much needed statement now. It is one which had to be made, and it means more coming from a woman of your public stature. I am shocked that any Americans tolerate this kind of repulsive behavior.

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