The title is a quotation from the estimable Rev. Amos Brown, my friend and teacher. It is the advice he gave the African American community a couple of weeks ago on the occasion of the release of a wise and indignant manifesto from the Progressive National Baptist Convention, home denomination and keeper of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That is what you need to do in this 2018 election -- vote like hell.
This weekend a violent anti-semite opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue where three different congregations were engaged in Shabbat services. At this writing, eleven have died and six or more, including three police officers, were wounded. There has been an avalanche of comfort flowing from rabbis and other clergy who recognize that the tragedy itself has ripped off scars that we hoped had healed -- or at least concealed -- the historical uneasiness of Jews about, well, someone with a gun wanting to kill us.
This is not one of those columns. There are magnificent examples of soothing words in abundance for you to access.
This is a call to action. You need to vote like hell.
And you need to vote against anyone who supports Donald Trump. This terrible man must not be further empowered. I will state my reasons -- which represent my opinion alone -- and, sorry, but I do not want to hear your disagreement. If you vote for those who contribute to Trump's presumed mandate, you are dismantling the democracy and its presumptions that made America great before he sullied that notion with his campaign slogan.
The man who pulled the trigger, like the man who sent the pipe bombs and every other bigot in our society, was not created by Trump's rhetoric. He hated immigrants, hated Jews, hated Democrats before Trump. But before Trump he lived on the very margins of society. The aggressive rhetoric and dehumanizing characterizations of Donald Trump moved the mainstream to the margin and made the real mainstream look like a betrayal. No amount of formalized handwringing from Trump can undo the consequences of his taunting and signaling freewheeling riffs on those he has proclaimed enemies and opponents.
I am watching Trump supporters scramble to distance him from his bad actions. Give it up. He is either responsible for his name-calling and lies, in which case he purposely demeans the office of President, or he is not, in which case he is not competent to occupy the office of President. Either way, those who enable him share entirely in the results of his conduct.
Nobody, of course, is bad all the time. There may very well be things that he has done that turn out to be wise, constructive or admirable in retrospect. But we need to get to "retrospect" as soon as possible, because his damage far outweighs any good he has accomplished, at home or abroad, including in the State of Israel.
Do you think he understands the heart of the angry American? Nonsense. Asked about the synagogue shooting, he complained that the victims weren't protected by a security guard with a sidearm. Aside from the complete lack of understanding about firearm safety -- relying on a gunfight in a venue populated by older adults and children is a recipe for disaster -- he failed to give the response that arose in the heart of every parent. His own children and grandchildren were in synagogue that morning (I presume). "That could have been my child, my babies." In all his scripted responses and lowering of flags, we have yet to hear that he viscerally understands our concern.
His personal pique at the Clintons and Obamas and Bidens (and others) overwhelmed the suggestion that he might seek to allay their concern with a sympathetic call. He has expressed more support for neo-Nazis and Saudi murderers than for Americans who might have voted for his opponent.
I am sure that if you object to Trump, you have your own reasons. There is no shortage of them. If you are a woman, a Spanish-speaker, an African American, an immigrant, a journalist, a liberal, a manufacturer, transgender, non-right-wing-evangelical-Christian or any of another list of the pluribus in our unum, he has betrayed the promise of America to you specifically and smugly lied about it in the process: when he put his hand on the Bible he never studies and promised to protect and defend the Constitution he never consults.
The results have been impolite, impolitic, violent, terrorizing and now fatal. He never should have been elected, and now he must be thwarted in diminishing the greatness of America. Our last chance to minimize his damage is to turn out of office the people who support and explain away the worst occupant of the Oval Office in the history of our country.
This is my personal opinion, and I sum up like this:
Vote like hell.