Last Tuesday opted not watch the State of the Union, If I wanted to see a bunch of racists publicly clap and hoot, I would have attended a different university in Texas.
The press’s reaction to the speech has been rather trite. The pundits shower praise upon the president, because evidently, now the highest bar we can expect from the man with unilateral power to launch nuclear weapons is capably reading off a teleprompter for an hour without using expletives or showing overt signs of cognitive decline.
But what set me off more than anything else was an errant column in the National Review that criticized Democrats for not standing to applaud when the President listed off the motifs of Republican America: Church, the military, the police, family values, et. al. How dare the Democrats not voice approval of such moral centers of Americanism, the author contended.
This offended me more than it should have, precisely because of the era of my own upbringing.
The Houston — and Texas — of my youth was Bushland. Where the greatest focus was on on themes of patriotism, moral values and family. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, politics and patriotism collided with rife allegiance to the flag, The Troops and jingoistic ideas of patriotism sacrosanct.
I internalized and continue to respect those ostensible principles. The US’s response to 9-11, from the prayers at football games and national guard troops in the streets of major cities, are images that impressed the centrality of American values upon me. I diligently wear an American flag pin on the lapels of all my jackets and suits. I take great pains to stipulate my respect for military or religious institutions, no matter how much I may personally disagree with them. These have been hardwired into me because perception is reality for a child, and that was my reality as a child.
The last eight years have taught me, however, that such conjecture on the Republican’s part is nothing more than opportunistic BS.
The old white men standing and clapping for religious morality and family values obsequiously bow down to Donald Trump as their leader. Trump, of “grab ‘em by the pussy,” dragging the mother of his children through the tabloids by trumpeting licentious reporting, cheating on all three of his wives—including most recently reported by paying hush money to a pornographic actress—and having a child out-of-wedlock, calling his daughter a “piece of ass” and being accused of myriad sexual assaults.
This fearless advocate of the military mocked a victim of torture in the Vietnam War for being captured. The party clapping for the police, and the vapid line of “Blue Lives Matter” are foaming at the mouth at the opportunity to crush the pensions of police officers.
The right does not hold the moral high ground on any of these topics. They discarded it when they discarded the rest of their principles by hitching their stars to a fascist, white supremacist demagogue.
It is hard to come to grips with the idea that the moral values I watch be paraded around as a child were all bull. But they were. They rang hollow by the alliance with that most unholy travesty of our time.
I do not think that morality, family values or patriotism should be discarded because an odious politician attempts to use them. Far from it, in fact. What I do strongly and sincerely believe is that the hypocrisy of the man so cynically using our revered national motifs for his gain ought to be pointed out. And when the Jim Crow apologists at the National Review attempt to use it as a bludgeon, the not-so-silent majority of America that rejects this cancer upon our country bludgeon back.
Horwitz is a second-year law student from Houston. He is a senior columnist.