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Cognitive Without Conscience

President Trump took a cognitive test, and touted his performance as “amazing.” The test: he repeated “Person, Woman, Man, Camera and TV” in that order. It is a dementia test that measures memory, not morality, the capacity to recall, not intelligence. Seventy-four-year-old Trump proposed that his 2020 presidential opponent, seventy-seven-year-old Joe Biden take the test — an effort to paint Biden as cognitively impaired. Trump’s own fear of dementia is believed to be seen in his preoccupation with his own cognitive functioning. He said about his score: “They say. ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’ I do it because I have a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.’ ” (“ ‘Person. Woman. Man. Camera.TV.’ Didn’t Mean What Trump Hoped It Did,” By Peter Baker, New York Times, July 23, 2020)

It is what President Trump chooses to remember and fabricate, and what he chooses to be ignorant of and distort, that are not measured by the cognitive test – and are most dangerous. He supposedly said “Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV” in the right order. But he has completely failed morally to demonstrate any empathy for or moral wisdom about the rights of persons, women and men, and any responsible used of the media.

A “USA TODAY exclusive” reminds us that many ordinary “Persons” sued Donald Trump for refusing to pay them for their work in his hotels and casinos. “Dishwashers in Florida, a glass company in New Jersey, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, forty-eight waiters, dozens of bar tenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, from coast to coast.” (“USA TODAY exclusive: Hundreds allege Donald Troup doesn’t pay his bills,” By Steve Reilly, USA TODAY, April 25, 2018)

Donald Trump created a fraudulent for-profit university that bilked “Persons” out of thousands of dollars, with the promise that his “expert” faculty would teach them Trump’s secrets of financial success. A federal court approved a $25 million settlement with the defrauded students. And Trump’s so-called “University” went defunct. (“What Trump University was really like — according to a former professor,” By Noah Friedman and Allan Smith, Business Insider, April 21, 2018)

In the 1970s, the FBI found racial discrimination in Donald Trump’s apartment rentals.. “Some of the records,” as reported, “recount the stories of black “Persons” who said they were told no apartments were available, while whites sent to check on the same apartments were offered leases.” (“Under the Radar,” By Josh Gerstein POLITICO, 2/15/2017)

In an unedited “Access Hollywood” tape, the real Donald Trump revealed his inappropriate compulsive sexual behavior toward “Women.” “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. . . . Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” (“Transcript: Donald Trump’s Taped Comments About Women,” The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2016)

Numerous “Women” have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. He has repeatedly called all of them “liars.” Who are you going to believe: the women, or the documented liar with the “magnet” hands, who said, “No one has more respect for woman than I do?” Tell that also to the “Wall of Moms” in Portland, who have been tear-gassed and pummeled by Trump’s federal officers as they sought to shield younger, peaceful protesters from the officers.

Tens of thousands of “Men” and “Women” and young people across the country have repeatedly filled public places to protest the brutal killing of George Floyd and other black persons by police. They are declaring that all Black Lives Matter. Their ongoing demonstrations, demanding police reform and redirecting certain police funds for social programs, threaten President Trump’s re-election campaign. He repeatedly called them “anarchists” and “agitators.” His aim is to send in federal troops to sow chaos in Democratic-governed cities with “law-and-order” crackdowns, which also serve to divert attention from his failed leadership in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Washington Post, during his three years in office, President Trump has looked into “Cameras and TV” and “has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims.” His negligence and lies about the seriousness of the coronavirus have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans – the total has now surpassed 157,000. One lie after another: “When we get into April, in the warmer weather,” he said, “that has a very negative affect on that, and that type of virus.” “It’s going to disappear . . . like as miracle.” Also, “Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere.” The pandemic is “getting under control.” And, when 130,000 Americans had already died from the virus, Trump falsely claimed, “We have tested almost 40m people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless.” (“All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus,” By Christian Paz, The Atlantic, July 13, 2020)

The pathological liar who repeatedly calls mainstream media “fake news.” Classic projection.

President Trump is an existential threat to our country. One prominent faith leader has called for his removal: an evangelical leader, not a mainstream faith leader. Mark Galli, then editor-in-chief of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, saw the threat Trump represents. Galli editorialized that Trump’s “immoral actions in business, . . . his relationship with women, about which he remains proud,” and his “mischaracterizations, lies and slanders, reveal a man who is “profoundly immoral . . . a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused” and “should be removed” from office. (‘TRUMP SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE,’ Dec. 19, 2019)

Mr. Galli’s editorial was severely criticized by a hundred evangelical faith leaders, and by President Trump. Galli’s response, “A Lot of people were feeling alone, and they’re not feeling alone anymore.” He added, “Given what we know of now about what the president has done, we need to speak out more directly on this.” (“Editor of Christianity Today Laments ‘Ethical Naivete’ of Trump Supporters,” By Nichola Bogel-Burroughs, The New York Times. Jan. 2, 2020)

Author, social critic and political activist Noam Chomsky spoke out even more directly. In an interview with Michael Brooks, “Chomsky said, ‘Trump is the worst criminal in history, undeniably . . . There has never been a figure in political history who was so passionately dedicated to destroying the prospects for organized human life on Earth in the near future.. That is not an exaggeration.’” (“ ‘Gangster in the
White House’: Noam Chomsky explains why Trump is undeniably ‘the worst criminal in history,”
Written by Alex Henderson, AlterNet, June 23, 2020)

Mainstream Christian Faith leaders do well to criticize certain of President Trump’s blatant anti-immigrant, racist and xenophobic policies. But they now need to respond to the grave threat his authoritarianism represents to the country itself, and follow Mark Galli’s example and Noam Chomsky’s assessment by calling for Trump’s resignation and prosecution for his crimes against the American people and others. The voices of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, the president of the Universalist Association, the Catholic Council of Bishops, the Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran and other leaders need to be heard. They are called to be prophets of the people, not merely chaplains of the status quo.

If President Trump had taken a morality test, he would have failed with these measures:

Racism Sexism Classism Narcissism Truthfulness.

He has moral and spiritual dementia.

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His newly published book, The Minister who Could Not Be “preyed” Away is available Amazon.com. Alberts is also author of The Counterpunching Minister and of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review of the book in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.  

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