Today, I am focused on Donald Trump. He’s The Other in our midst.
My 21,556 days here include four significant “I remember where I was when …” events. I was just six on 11/22/1963, almost 12 on 7/20/1969 (when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon), and three days shy of 44 on 9/11/2001. Finally, there’s April 19, 1995, the day on which Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirators toppled the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bombing killed 168 people (including 19 children), injured many hundreds, and caused $600M+ in damages.
April 19, 1995 stands out for me because of the confluence of three events. There was the bombing. And in my little world, I spent most of the day in depositions, listening to lawyers questioning young hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS from bad blood products, administered to them to help clot their blood. A cruel outcome, made worse by the fact that my clients’ co-defendants’ counsel were a crew of young punks with absolutely no empathy for the plaintiffs. These young men—the plaintiffs—were born with a genetic abnormality, Pharma gave them hope, and a lack of care killed them. Co-defendants’ counsel, 21 years ago, went low, treating the young men as if they were lying cheats, daring to question the deadly health care they received.
And the third event? During a short lunch break, my best friend / law partner—one of several—told me he was leaving our firm.
I think about April 19 from time to time. My friend has been a judge for almost 18 years. The plaintiffs have surely passed on. And the baby lawyers who made their day miserable? Happily, I recall none of them, and can only hope their empathy genes have kicked in.
That leaves the really horrific part of the day. Timothy McVeigh is dead. The United States of America took care of that on June 11, 2001. It will shock none of my readers that I have no regard for the death penalty, but if I got to choose a final recipient, I’d pick Timmy.
The co-conspirators got convicted too. Terry Nichols got 161 consecutive life terms. Others were sentenced and released, on account of good behavior and … whatever. (As an aside, the government attorney who did the painstaking work which resulted in the convictions is a fellow—a guy who could have made millions doing the bidding of Donald Trump and his ilk—called Merrick Garland. Maybe you know his name? He’s the nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the United States Supreme Court. The one who can’t get a hearing or a vote because of … well, for no good reason at all.)
Several searches identified no comments from Donald Trump about the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. He was not a politician 20+ years ago, but he was a public person, and not the least bit shy. Alas, like many others who focus on Moslems now, he was silent in connection with what has ended up being the second greatest terrorist attack in our national history.
Timothy McVeigh, alive and free today, would surely be a Trump-er. So, too, would, would be co-conspirators Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier. In fact, these three men were no less dangerous to our homeland than anyone with a different religion or a hard-to-pronounce surname. Yet, in 2016, only 21 years after what was then the worst terrorist act in America, we look outward, as if our only threats come from The Other.
Donald Trump lacks any understanding of or appreciation for American values. No, Donald, in a campaign rooted in your repeated, disgusting, pathetic false claims about President Obama’s birthplace, you don’t get to say “never mind” and claim credit for resolving a non-existent issue you created and maintained. No, Donald, you have no right to stir up violence at your rallies, because it makes them more exciting. Yes, Donald, our legal system depends on representation for defendants, even those who try to kill us. No Donald, Muslims in America are not our enemies, and Christians weren’t either, when a misguided believer blew up a building on April 19, 1995. You are The Other, Donald Trump. You don’t “get” America and its institutions and values. Go away, please!