After watching the recent Republican debate, the conclusion my mind comes to is: Donald Trump. Really?
And for the rest of the mute nine: Really? Not one person present faulted The Donald on stage when he was confronted for his history of misogynistic comments about women? And the audience? Laughing when those hateful comments were directed only at Rosie O’Donnell. Where has common decency gone? When did the courage to confront hatred based on race, sexual preference or gender go out of style?
Some of the nine found their voice days later when they realized that such hate perhaps has a cost, and they’d best get on the right side. Others still refuse to condemn The Donald, hoping to inherit his base of prejudice among the Republican lunatic fringe.
And then, The Donald compounded his depth of hatred by his not-so-vague reference, that perhaps Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s problem was her womanhood.
His reference to “blood” fooled no one. It’s an age-old stereotype that women are somehow less than us “smart men” who always have our emotions under control, so unlike them. It seems that once a month, they somehow lose their ability to hold rational thoughts, while we men continue our juggernaut of rational and compassionate thought processes. Really?
It is a given that biology plays us all. Testosterone has a long history of violence and cruelty attached to it. And I would rather interact with any woman and her “supposed problem” than put up with ignorance, 24/7 as we have suffered so much from lately.
How many women were behind the trigger at My Lai’s slaughtering hundreds of innocent women, children and old men? How many women are the mass murderers who plague our country?
Was it a man or woman who played out the Vietnam War for five extra years so history would treat him kindly? It was a time when more than 20,000 additional American troops were killed, and at least 1 million Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodians were sacrificed on his alter of ego.
And if need be, I’d remind us that it was men who slaughtered four little black girls as they worshipped peacefully in church not so many years ago.
On the hospital ship, I would come out of my delirious coma from malaria to find a kind female nurse addressing my needs. It was she who bathed my feverish head, fed me and gave me encouragement when I so desperately needed it. I remember the male doctor would float it, diagnose and depart. Period.
This nurse was the one with me through my darkest period, and it was she who finally broke the fever that was killing me. It was she who gave me a chance to survive.
Serving the homeless on the streets for more than 30 years, it was mostly women — nurses like Jane Fadden; my wife, Donna; and selfless doctors like Dr. J — who were the ones to dirty their hands and, literally, muddy their shoes to treat the new lepers of our day.
Mostly, but not exclusively, it was women providers who could look beyond the stereotypes and inane bureaucratic rules and regulations to actually see the person before us, and treat him or her with the dignity and respect that we are all deserving of.
I learned a long time ago that hatred is never self-contained. The man who uses sexist comments is the man who uses racial slurs. The man who degrades people because of their gender is the man who is prejudiced against people because of their sexual orientation.
So when a person of black skin is gunned down, or a person of brown skin is abused, and find themselves at the mercy of bigotry and hatred, it is imperative for people who believe in decency to confront it.
I ask one thing. Close your eyes and pretend for one minute that you are a young girl of 8 or 9. Perhaps not the cutest girl in her class or the most popular. Learning to be a good citizen, she sits before her television and watches the debate. She hears words like “Fat pigs, dogs, slob, and disgusting animals” etc. referring to women who are less than Hollywood beautiful.
Now imagine feeling the hot tears run down her face as shame engulfs her.
“I’m not pretty,” she tells herself. “There is something wrong with me. I’m a fat pig …”
Then, a day later, she hears that the body changes that are a few years away supposedly causes her to be less than rational, to not think right.
For fathers, would you want your daughter even in the same room with such a hateful and disrespectful man? Do we rally want to embrace such hate when we confront some in the world who use the façade of their religion to imprison, sexually assault and even kill women simply because of their gender?
There are times we need to stand up and say no. No to the Ku Klux Klan. No to the Confederate battle flag. No to the killing of unarmed black men in our community. And no to the constant, slanderous hatred directed against women.
There is a time for decency. A time for hatred to be confronted. And definitely a time to say no to 24/7 ignorance.
I do have one reason to thank The Donald. I never thought I would come to Megyn Kelly’s defense, we being on opposite sides of the political spectrum. However, Kelly has earned admiration for a job well done.
— Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.