I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.
This stanza from Bob Dylan‘s song, With God On Our Side, kept playing in my head this week following President Donald Trump‘s meeting and joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
At the press conference, Trump told reporters something like he trusted Putin over our own American intelligence when it came to Russian interference in the last presidential election.
The reaction shocked me and many Americans. Democrats and some Republicans pounced on Trump as siding with the enemy. There were words of treason echoed in the marble halls of power.
But after the emotion settled down, I began to think about this country’s collective reaction.
Have we become so divisive that rather than stop to think about what is said that we react with a lynch mob mentality? Do we think so small of ourselves and the American mentality to freely elect a president that we believe that Russian hackers influenced our very thinking on who should lead this country? Does the internet have that much sway in our thinking?
Now, I’m not defending Trump here, treasonous itself in the political correctness of New York City. But I am questioning how reactionary we’ve become. Instead, it might be wise to question our thinking.
Can Donald Trump be such a boor, yet be an agent for positive change? Can we judge him issue by issue on what he does instead of paint him with a broad brush of love or hate?
And this thinking extends to other things.
We hate Kanye West because he made comments about slavery and freedom of thought, and because of that do we now have to stop listening or liking his music. It doesn’t make sense. Can we love and accept the art, but hate the artist?
Should we stop laughing at Louis C.K. or stop reading Junot Díaz because of their #MeToo moments? Are we entering our version of China’s Cultural Revolution?
Is Russia really our enemy or are they our competitors as Trump says?
But that’s not how we roll in this country. Maybe its human nature. We need to hate Russians. We need to hate Democrats. We need to hate Republicans. There’s always somebody to blame, to scapegoat.
It all brings me to think about the last verse of Dylan’s song:
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.