By Marguerite Jill Dye
We are beginning to recognize the immense power of Facebook as a forum, and vehicle of propaganda and fake news since learning about Russia’s cyberwarfare and meddling in the U.S. election.
Through Russian Facebook and Instagram accounts, 80 million political posts by fictitious organizations were sent to 23 million American voters and may have reached 148 million Americans. They were created to sway opinions and votes, rile up discontent and distrust, and increase alienation. Each day we are witnessing continuing effects.
I recently shared a post of Jimmy Fallon’s first politically-oriented late night monologue. The discussion that ensued was a sign of the times we’re living through: the polarization of our nation. I deleted the post due to its crude language when an ex-Marine friend was offended by Fallon’s criticism of Trump. As a Marine, he was trained to defend the president, to honor and respect our commander in chief, and asked if I did not agree. I wanted to share the comments and discussion that followed, replacing names with occupations.
Marguerite Dye: A dear friend who served in the U.S. Marines and was injured in Afghanistan and is a true and loyal patriot commented on the post I shared of Jimmy Fallon’s lengthy, highly critical (and a bit vulgar) statement to President Trump. Our Marine friend wrote he’d never seen a time in our history when a president received so little respect. He asked me if I didn’t agree and what I thought.
I believe that the presidential office commands respect, but that the individual in it must do his or her part to uphold a standard of decency, act on behalf of and in the best interests of the American people (and the citizens of the world), be a responsible caretaker of our land and people, do his or her utmost to maintain and promote peace, avoid conflict whenever possible, avoid provoking retaliation or war, be honest, forthcoming, trustworthy, and abide by the office, Constitution, and laws of the United States of America. To be treated with respect, one must act respectfully and be respectful of others in word and deed. Collusion with a foreign power to undermine U.S. policy or alter election results is illegal. Personally benefitting from financial and business dealings in office is illegal. Please, Facebook friends, add to my thoughts so our friend, whose heart is in the right place, can understand why we are reacting with such vehemence. Thank you!
Georgia teacher: It is not that we love our nation less, but that we love it more. We are grieved to see the non-stop attacks on our freedoms and the institutions that are there to protect, but are undermined at every opportunity. His disconnect from reality and his inability to accept facts make solutions impossible. A man who dodged his obligation to serve by claiming bone spurs and said that his struggle with STDs was his own personal Vietnam. We can do far better than this and we must.
Artist/instructor: Is it worthy of our nation to use the gravity that the office brings to lash out personally at others through a public form? Is it respectful to find names that degrade people you have grievances with? Many other presidents have disagreed with their predecessors. Did they call them incompetent and even, if they did, harshly rebuke their actions? Did they undermine all the long standing institutions made up of some of the most selfless people who have served their country for a lifetime? Can you not see the difference between a man who uses these tactics daily and the decency of your humble service? The difference between commanding respect and deserving respect are stark. I cannot give a man respect who does not respect his responsibility to serve the portion of the country he disagrees with, the institutions of our country, or even himself enough to accept the scrutiny that comes with the job. It is not every American’s responsibility to respect the office more than it is his grave responsibility to unite us, represent all of us, our concerns, aspirations and this sacred republic with a proud and dignified history.
Florida publisher: First of all, your friend must have missed the disgraceful behavior leveled against President Obama for eight years. It bordered on outright racism, as Mitch McConnell told his fellow GOP senators to vote “no” on everything Obama proposed. And they did. Simply because he was black. But as for Trump, Teddy Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.” Your friend is mixing up the presidency with the president. We should all respect the office of the presidency. We do not have to respect the man who holds that office. Also, like many, your friend seems to believe Trump is no different than any other elected president. He is very different. To put it bluntly, he is a pathological liar and con artist. But even those flaws don’t compare to his traitorous acts of collusion with the Russians. Putin’s controlled Deutsche Bank will be the key. That was the only bank to offer Trump loans when no U.S. banks would do so. That bank kept Trump in the game … for a reason. Now Putin has his puppet in the White House. So comparing Trump to other presidents is insane. There is just no comparison. Even Nixon had many good qualities. Not true with Mr. Trump. So why do I, or anyone, feel obligated to give this man respect? He sure as hell hasn’t earned it.
Vermont teacher: Discussing religion and politics are supposed to be the “third rail” of concord and harmony. That said, it is very disturbing to so many of us that we have a president who uses his office and a cheap communication tool to spew poisonous venom at anybody who disagrees with him or criticizes him, who has endangered this country in that process, who seems to think that sticking sticks in the proverbial hornets’ nests is how to “Make America Great Again” while undercutting the cabinet office charged with keeping peace: the State Department. As for Hillary, only a third world dictator tries to maintain control over his followers by constantly vilifying his opponents and threatening to “lock her up.” Charges? We’ll make them up. Like that bogus, firmly debunked uranium sale to the Russians she had little to nothing to do with. You’ll notice that he fell back on that, as did his stooges in Congress, when it was looking pretty apparent that his house of cards was about to collapse, thanks to the Mueller investigation. This is a dangerous president and it’s so troubling that so many people are willing to close their eyes to his lying, his history of cheating people, his highly suspicious connections with Putin, his obsessive intent to undo at any cost everything good that Obama accomplished, his class-less behavior, and his disregard for the historical institutions of this country as well as entire segments of our population. I didn’t even get to his sexual misbehavior.
Painter: The office should have respect, but the one who holds the office now is deconstructing and fouling all we patriotic Americans value. If we don’t protest then we will be his puppets and we are being led into a dictatorship. That is why we who seem to realize this are up in arms. DT is causing havoc the world over. And isn’t Trump the puppet of Putin who wishes to bring the U.S. down? So that’s why we are so angry.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between Vermont and Florida.