What Will Happen When Threats Are Met with Reason, When Cruelty is Met by Kindness, When the Call for Humanity Confronts the Reality of Inhumanity?How Will Trump Respond to Mexican President Lopez Obrador’s Letter?
We very often speak of “speaking truth to power.” It is both a powerful and a dangerous thing to do. Julian Assange is suffering both physically and mentally because he has done so. It is, what all socially conscious people, revolutionaries and reformists, writers and poets, and most certainly, journalists must and should do. However, the question of how we should speak this truth has never been properly addressed. Very often “speaking truth to power” has meant throwing out facts. At other times it is accompanied by anger and vulgarity. I think here of Robert DeNiro’s statement “Fuck Trump.” However, President Lopez Obrador has given us a profound and beautiful lesson on just how we can best speak truth to power. It is to be learned from studying his recent letter to Donald Trump in response to Trump’s threats to impose sanctions on Mexico if it does not do something to stop immigration. This letter does not attack or insult trump, it does not threaten him with retaliatory actions or countermeasures. It does one thing – IT REMINDS TRUMP OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AND ACT LIKE A HUMAN BEING.
We must wait and see how Donald Trump responds to it. In his response, he will define himself not as The President of the United States, but as a human being. He will stand as naked before the world as the famous Emperor who had no clothes. If his response does match Obrador’s calm, kind and rational letter he will shame himself. If he does not respond to this open call for a show of caring and compassion, he will reveal himself….and his nation, as grotesque monstrosities. It seems the President of Mexico has given him only one way out….to be humane or not.
First Obrador draws out the positive relations that have existed between the great leaders of Mexico and America’s greatest presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He praises Roosevelt in particular as a “titan of freedom who proclaimed the four fundamental rights of man”: freedom of speech, of religion but also, the right to live free from fear and from misery. These indeed were Roosevelt’s principles and on these principles he saw that the workers of America had the legal right to form unions, that those without work had work and when they didn’t, that unemployment insurance would be made available to them, that the aged had social security insurance. He reminds a nation that under his watchful wing they had “nothing to fear but fear itself.” In my judgement if there was ever an American President who governed in the interest of the poor and working class it was Roosevelt. One could not think of a better oppositeto Trump.
He then places himself in this tradition. Just as Roosevelt protected the rights of that one third of a nation “ill housed, ill clothed and I’ll fed” – those masses of Americans who wandered from one part of their country to another looking for work, he too sees human well being as his primary goal. “Human beings do not leave their villages for pleasure but out of necessity.”And so he calls not for an end to immigration, but “cooperation in development and aid for Central American countries” in order to “resolve this painful situation.” Not fences, but jobs and food.
He goes a step further when he speaks of his own nation, reminding President Trump that soon “Mexicans will not need to go to the United States and that migration will be optional, not forced.” When corruption is eradicated “Out countrymen will be able to work and be happy where they were born, where their families, their customs and their cultures are.” Then he reminds Trump of the inhumanity of his tariffs and policies:
“President Trump, social problems are not resolved by tariffs or coercive measures like turning a neighboring country overnight into a ghetto, an enclosed place for the migrants of the world, where they’re stigmatized, abused, persecuted, and excluded and the right to justice is denied to those who seek to work and to live free from want. The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol.
With all due respect, although you have the sovereign right to say it, the slogan “United States First” is a fallacy because universal justice and fraternity will prevail until the end of time, even over national borders.”
That his letter is beautiful and passionate; he places himself in the tradition of Roosevelt, of all leaders who govern not in the interests of the 1% but the 99%; great leaders of the people, elected by the people to govern for them. He reminds the world that humanity is one, and so that we all must act humanely.
The only question now. The question the world is waiting for, is how Trump will respond. Will his response be rational, kind, humane or will it be irrational, cruel and inhumane? Of course, there is always the possibility that he will not respond at all.
Read the letter HERE
Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.