30 July, 2017
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Re: Right Speech
My Facebook “friend,” the distinguished painter Eric Fischl—you may know of him?—posted a request yesterday regarding that speech your president gave last week to a graduating class of police cadets on Long Island. I watched that speech with as much dismay as did the artist. Here’s what he asked his many friends to communicate to their congressional representative:
It was foolish and irresponsible for President Trump to have so cavalierly joked that police shouldn't worry about being so careful with their suspects when physically arresting them. He is tone deaf to the hyper-sensitive issues that have been swirling around police brutality against the black and latino communities for years. You need to distance yourself from him on this issue. Unless, you actually believe that it is OK?
For myself, I don’t think it’s OK. First, I don’t think it’s OK for the president* of the United States to engage in this kind of rabble-rousing. Like the infamous Boy Scout speech, it’s a particularly venal use of the so-called bully pulpit. It’s the way Trump goes about begging for the approval, if not the adulation of large crowds of people, as he did so successfully in his campaign rallies. It is certainly beneath the dignity of the office that he occupies.
As to the content of the speech, it reflects the cynicism and the cruelty that lie at the heart of this man’s character. We are a nation built, as we so constantly reiterate, on the rule of law. It is not simply immoral but unlawful for police officers to treat suspects—even proven criminals—with anything but restraint. Your Trump, as I recall, in the same tone, called for the resumption of torture in a campaign speech. This is not only un-presidential, it is fundamentally opposed to all the values that we Americans claim to hold dear.
"Right Speech" is a Buddhist concept. It means, essentially, "speak no evil." The president makes a mockery of such common decency My Facebook friend is right: you must distance yourself, publicly, from the president on this issue.
Peter Clothier, Ph.D.