I’m not one of those who grew up “in” Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but our kids did. The place always seemed friendly and welcoming, and everyone was, well, neighborly.
Now prepare yourself for Mr. Trump’s Neighborhood. It’s going to run a bit differently, at least according to yesterday’s speech on security in America. Mr. Trump’s neighborhood will have some special features that we haven’t seen around here in quite some time.
For example on the average day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood one might walk down the street and, oh let’s say, bump into the lettercarrier. He’s a man of Middle Eastern descent but wears traditional postal employee clothing. You exchange pleasantries, maybe ask about each other’s children, discuss the weather, then move on.
In Mr. Trump’s neighborhood, one might walk down the street and, oh let’s say, bump into the letter carrier. He’s a man of Middle Eastern descent but wears traditional postal employee clothing. You exchange pleasantries, maybe ask about each other’s children, discuss the weather, then move on.
On the following day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, you repeat the process. In Mr. Trump’s neighborhood, however, the following day is different. You bump into a different government employee—a nicely dressed man with a CRI badge. He’s from the Commission on Radical Islam and he means business. It’s your first encounter with a CRI agent, but you know enough to be respectful, even deferential. He, and others like him, have already witnessed people like you conversing freely with Islamic Americans, and people like you have lost their jobs, lost their homes, and lost their sense of well being.
His questions seem innocuous at first—how long have you known the lettercarrier—but soon the so-called Pence questions begin. How often do you associate with your gay neighbors?—why was your wife recently observed at a Planned Parenthood office?—when did you stop attending church regularly? —how come you didn’t fly the American flag last Fourth of July?—why was there a menorah on display last Christmas in you house? It was Christmas, after all. Have you something against Christmas?
You try to answer honestly; after all, what can go wrong? But the CRI agent keeps making marks on his checklist, and he frowns more than he smiles. Some neighbors have mentioned things, but that’s because they are no longer your neighbors. Instead they’re part of a network—a kind of neighborhood watch run amok. By the time that CRI agent has moved on, you know that you’re on a blacklist, one that will be used against you when you can least afford it.
Such is life in Mr. Trump’s neighborhood.
Regarding yesterday’s campaign speech: it’s only natural for parents to praise a child for good behavior. That’s pretty much how I reacted to Donald Trump’s “serious” foreign policy speech—it was a bratty kid trying to impress the grown-ups. There’s so much wrong with it that I’ll leave the line-by-line criticism to the experts whose understanding of history and foreign policy far exceeds mine, but that particularly onerous section stood out: even I know that anyone who promises he will expose networks in our society must be taken seriously and must be challenged from the onset.
Remember “blue 16?,” the wild-eyed Trump supporter I referred to from that video?
Now imagine the Commission on Radical Islam coming up with a series of “warning signs of radicalization” and imagine that guy, or the one carrying a sign that says Muslim ain’t no religion—handling enforcement.
It’s not going to be a wonderful day in anybody’s neighborhood unless you’re a straight white patriot—and your neighborly network can verify it.