I was sitting with my Mom when the reports came in, about the train attack in Portland. If you haven’t heard what happened, The Oregonian has a very detailed account that’s well worth reading even if you have heard reports.
I’ve ridden a lot of trains. I’ve never been in a dangerous situation, but I’d like to think if someone was attacked, I and other passengers would step in. Or that if I was being attacked, others would step in.
It’s a very American way of thinking, but I’m an American. And so were the men on that train: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23; Rick Best, 53; and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21.
These three men represented the best of America in that moment. They did everything right. They tried to deescalate the situation. And failing that, they stood, and two fell for, America.
These three understood American democracy, that We the people spirit that is America. We are Americans, different individuals, but united as one people. Their attacker, Jeremy Joseph Christian, didn’t understand this.
I can’t say that Mr. Christian was suffering mental illness, unless we are counting hate as a mental illness. For the record, embracing hate-filled ideologies can be a manifestation of mental illness. But so far no one has said Mr Christian was mentally ill.
A witness on the train said of Mr Christian: “He was screaming that he was a taxpayer, that colored people were ruining the city, and he had First Amendment rights.”
Can I just point out that Mr Christian didn’t even know what the First Amendment actually said? The two Muslim women riding the train, simply sitting there, one wearing a hijab, were exercising their First Amendment rights too. Freedom of religion is a First Amendment right.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Can I also point out that there are exceptions to the First Amendment? Inflammatory words that are either injurious by themselves or might cause the hearer to immediately retaliate or breach the peace — such as Mr Christian’s statement that “… colored people were ruining the city” — are not necessarily protected “free speech” under the First Amendment.
These three men on the train stood up for the Constitution, for First Amendment right of any person in America to practice one’s religion in peace and safety. These three men stood up for women and for people of color. They stood up for love. This is real American behavior.
Taliesin Myrddin, “a good Welsh name” my father remarked, according to a witness on the train, he held up his phone (most likely to document the events), at which point, suddenly, the hate-filled Mr Christian, hit the phone away and stabbed Taliesin in the neck. Later, on a stretcher, before he was carried away, Taliesin said:
“Tell everyone on this train I love them.”
This is how real Americans think.
Now look at the “tweet” from the so-called American, so-called POTUS, that this horrific event engendered.
“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”
This is the only statement made on the matter, one tweet. Look at it carefully, because the media really didn’t — too much going on with Jared. Really read it
The president’s sole focus is on the white men that died. Who were the victims? The white men. What is unacceptable? Violent attacks on white men. He acknowledges there was hate and intolerance, but only in the context of the white men standing up to it. He fails to mention that everything was initiated because of a white supremicist’s hate for people of color, and intolerance for Muslims.
Our “American” “president” doesn’t attack the white supremacist ideology that created the incident, because many in his base and on the White House staff hold that ideology and normally think in terms as racist as Mr Christian. Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, Session’s minion, all think in exactly such terms.
He doesn’t mention violence again women, because he’s okay with that. He himself is fine assaulting women and has confessed to doing so on multiple occassions. That’s why he said nothing, as an “American” “president” when Putin decriminalized domestic abuse in Russia.
He doesn’t mention freedom of religion under the Constitution, because he doesn’t know the Constitution. He doesn’t believe in a religion or freedom of religion. He doesn’t mention American values, because he has no idea what they are. It’s a tweet solely concocted not to offend his white supremacist base.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Sunday’s NY Times had a story about how Trump stole the heraldic device found at Mar-a-lago. It’s a device awarded too, and solely belonging to Joseph Edward Davies –“a very Welsh name,” said my Dad –and his family. He was the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the socialite who built the Mar-a-Lago.
In Trump’s tiny little mind, owning a property emblazoned long ago with a noble family’s crest, made that crest his to do with as he wanted. So that’s what he did. He illegally began using the crest. He went about replacing the actual family motto: Integrity, with the disgraceful and corrupt name Trump.
Trump thinks he can do that with truth, justice, and the American way too. But he can’t. Real Americans are out there, with phones. They are watching, recording, reporting. Real American are resisting, even unto death. Because that’s what real American do.