Don Schlenger (Ethiopia 1966-68) Speaks His (and Our) Minds

“Have you no sense of decency, sir?” was the question asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy by army lawyer Joseph N. Welch during the infamous Army-McCarthy Hearing of 1954. A question most Americans might asked today of that loathsome and insufferable Republican candidate Donald John Trump.

It is not a question, however, that will be asked by the news media or 24/7 cable networks. They see Trump’s raging’s as an easy and quick way to increase ratings and revenue.

The pundits say Trump speak of the ‘rage’ in blue collar America, but, in truth, Trump represents nothing and nobody.  Like the Wizard of Oz, there’s nothing behind the curtain. Donald Trump is an empty suit.  He will not win a primary or collect more than a handful of delegates in this campaign season of 2016.  He will, however, try and leverage the ‘support’ he allegedly has to ‘make a deal’ with any of the candidates willing to pay his price.  The unasked question of this campaign is: What’s the price?”

Don and Jackie standing on the porch of their Peace Corps home on a return visit to Ethiopia few years ago.

Don and Jackie standing on the porch of their Peace Corps home on a return visit to Ethiopia few years ago.

Trump is not a real candidate, but his despicable fascist, racist, xenophobic, and sexist diatribes, to say nothing of his outright lies, are real and repulsive. Still, he has not been effectively challenged by any of the Republican candidates. He has, however, managed to set the lowest common denominator for the next campaign’s candidates, creating a political arena where outright rudeness, fear mongering, and  obscenity are an acceptable part of the discourse.

That said, the bar keeps going lower. So what’s next?  Will any candidate or Republican official finally ask  Donald Trump: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Don Schlenger (Ethiopia 1966-68) was a high school teacher, guidance counselor, and basketball  coach in New Jersey.  Don and his wife Jackie live now in Cary, North Carolina, and work part-time with special needs students.


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  • Welch’s irate question was asked in response to McCarthy smearing a lawyer on Welch’s staff at the Army/McCarthy hearings. In that historical context, Trump smears anyone and everyone by innuendos and lies. For example, he has questioned Ted Cruz’s religiosity by noting that he is Cuban American and there aren’t too many evangelicals in Cuba. He has challenged Ben Carter’s religious beliefs by asking what he believes in seems a little weird but he doesn’t know much about his particular religious sect. His performance at the Republican Jewish dinner was so filled with stereo types of Jews through history, his speech could have been written by Joseph Goebbels.

    But let us remember that Trump is merely following in the footsteps of Huey Long, Father Coughlin, Senator McCarthy, Governor George Wallace and many other demagogues who appealed to the baser instincts of Americans. He is not that unusual in our political history and all of the above either never got anywhere or fell from prominence due to their own flaws and the wisdom and perspicuity of the American voters. I agree with Don that Trump will not get very far but I wish that there were more politicians and media types with the principles to stand up and challenge him. Where are the Edward R. Murrows when we need them?

  • Every time I see Wolf Blitzer or Joe Scarborough or George Stephanopolis I long for Severaid, Murrow, Wallace(not the son!), Conkrite, even Dan Rather. God, I’m old

  • For all his fear mongering and racist rhetoric, Donald Trump is no Hitler. Not even close.  To conflate Trump with Hitler, one of history’s most evil monsters, is to trivialize Hitler and the Nazis and puts Trump in a category he doesn’t merit, if merit is the right word.

    Certainly there are parallels that invite invidious comparisons.

    Hitler and Trump are (were) dangerous demagogues, appealing to the worst instincts and prejudices of the German and American people. Both play to emotions, resentments and tribal fear of the “other.”

    Hitler promised to restore Germany to greatness and blamed the Jews for the country’s problems, an easy target in a country with a deep and virulent anti-Semitic strain.   Trump promises to make the United States great again, although compared to Germany’s desperate economic straits following World War I, I don’t know what Trump is talking about. Of course, Trump is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and unless you are an incumbent you don’t win office by talking about how good things are.

    Hitler required Jews to register and wear yellow Star of David patches on their clothes so they could be readily identified. Trump talks about registering American citizens who are Muslim, requiring them to carry papers identifying them as Muslim, for much the same reason. He would also bar Muslims from entering the country until, as I understand it, the U.S. determines that any, all or a given Muslim doesn’t present a terrorist threat, or until “we can figure out what’s going on.” Which ever comes first, I guess.

    Trump has not proposed a “final solution” to the Muslim and Hispanic immigrant problem. Whatever else he is, Trump is not a murderous madman. However, his inflammatory anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim rhetoric, particularly, has encouraged “white supremacist” (although I am hard-pressed to understand why white people consider themselves superior), and other twisted souls to harass and attack American Muslims, mosques, Muslim owned business and institutions.

    Although not an organized group of thugs like Hitler’s Brown Shirts, they are inspired and emboldened by Trump’s intemperate and intolerant speech. Whatever becomes of Trump’s candidacy, it will be a permanent, ugly stain on his name.

    Hitler was a hater whose anti-Semitism was deep and visceral. Trump is playing a cynical game, but despite the hateful things he says I don’t think he’s a hater and I don’t think he cares deeply about anything other than his own self-importance.

    Trump is a shameless opportunist who is willing to say almost anything to get elected. He is no Hitler, but in his own way is a very dangerous figure on the American political scene.

  • Good points. Reference to Germany was prior to 1933, when Hitler took office, but my reference was a reach. Thanks

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