An(other) Open Letter to the President of the United States of America

20170824 ESAAugust 25, 2017

The President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mister President:

I learn today that you have pardoned Joseph Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for his conviction related to violations of citizens’ civil rights in defiance of federal court orders.

Further, I learn today that you have issued a directive to the Defense Department which will ban transgender persons from serving in the United States Armed Forces.

And, of course, I have listened to your words and your tone over the last two weeks since white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and one of them killed a young woman. Your initial response made a false equivalence between people attempting to preserve their civil rights and people who seek to take those rights away from them. Your second response clearly condemned the racist and violent agenda of white supremacy. It was late, but it was clear. But the very next day you returned to that false equivalency again.

Let me be clear with this, sir: there are no two sides between those who would dominate and those resisting domination. We are not talking about plain bigotry. We are talking about who makes choices for other people. The white supremacists claim that they should make the decisions which impact those of darker skins, or who are women, or who find love differently than they.

They are wrong. They should not. And you should not encourage them as you did last week in Phoenix, as you have done today with the pardon for Mr. Arpaio, and as you have done today with a ban on transgender persons.

Fortunately, there is a remedy for this. It is called repentance, and it is an ancient religious tradition. Here’s how it works:

You acknowledge the wrong.

You apologize for the wrong.

You do what can be done to undo the wrong. Now, you can’t revoke the pardon for Mr. Arpaio, but you can clearly order ICE agents to refrain from the racial profiling activity Mr. Arpaio engaged in.

And you strive never to do that wrong again.

Sir, you owe it to the American people. We need to see that you serve all America’s citizens, and not just those with light skin.

If you cannot, there is another remedy. It’s also very simple. It goes like this:

You address a letter to the Secretary of State, which reads:

“I resign the office of President of the United States.”

Because, sir, if you cannot apologize for these words and actions, you should not hold this office.

Peace to you,

Eric Anderson

An Open Letter to the President of the United States after Charlottesville

Downtown Charlottesville 201708

Downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 14, 2017. Her name was Heather Heyer. Photo by Bob Mical. Used by permission under Creative Commons license.

The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mister President,

I listened to your words on Saturday, August 12th, responding to the racist and white supremacist rally and riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. I heard you lament the violence and I heard you cast blame on “many sides. On many sides.”

Mister President, you must choose a side.

On the one side, there are those marchers: all white, mostly men. These are the ones shouting, “You will not replace us,” and “Blood and soil.” Do you recognize those words, sir? Do you recognize that the latter was a slogan of the Nazi Party in Germany? Do you recognize that the former implies a race-based rivalry between American citizens?

Do you recognize that you have fed both of these?

On the other side, there were the other marchers. Their skins were white, and brown, and deep brown. They were men and women. Many of them stood with arms linked wearing the vestments of religious leaders. Those people sang songs of peace as those others, carrying clubs and guns, shouted their slogans of division and hate.

These are the people mowed down by a speeding car, driven into them in an act of terror.

Do you recognize that you have failed to heed these voices of justice and peace?

The white supremacists know. They heard your words. They recognize that you have not condemned their false doctrines or their belligerent slogans or their evil purposes.

Until you condemn their ideals, until you condemn their goals, until you condemn their actions, they will know. We will all know.

I call upon you now to fulfill your oath. Be President to the United States to the entire United States. Repudiate the voices of white supremacy; reject their affirmation of racism. Make it clear. Make it certain. Make it forceful.

If you do not: the citizens of this country are listening. And we will know which side you have chosen. So will all the world.

I await your repentance and your amendment.

Sincerely yours,

Eric S. Anderson
Pastor, Church of the Holy Cross United Church of Christ
Hilo, Hawai’i

Ego without Wisdom

I sent this letter on Sunday, August 13th. I had not yet decided whether to post this after the President’s statement on August 14th condemning racism and white supremacy. His return to rhetoric blaming counter-protesters on August 15th, however, prompted me to make this letter public.

To the Attorney General of the United States

IMG_2103Dear Mr. Attorney General,

According to your statement in an interview, you do not feel that a judge on “an island in the Pacific” should be able to review a federal executive order.

Apparently, Mr. Sessions, you haven’t heard that federal judges do, in fact, have the power to review executive and congressional action and evaluate them for constitutionality and adherence to other relevant federal law. Or, I suppose, you haven’t heard that the judge in question is, in fact, a federal judge.

I’ll assume that you know that this island in the Pacific is a full member of the United States of America.

Well, Mr. Sessions, this is one of several islands in the Pacific, it’s true. Islands, it seems, where we can read an executive order and spot its inhumanity, its injustice, and its betrayal of American values. Islands, it seems, where we understand the processes of American jurisprudence. Islands, it seems, where we will stand for the best of America when others will not.

Mr. Sessions, you are an officer of the court. You owe a federal judge an apology. Mr. Sessions, you are a cabinet member of this administration. You owe an entire state (some of whose citizens voted for your principal) an apology. Mr. Sessions, you are a human being. You need to examine your heart, abandon these policies of racial and religious discrimination, and start over.

Mr. Sessions, you need to repent.

Sincerely yours,

Eric S. Anderson, Pastor
Church of the Holy Cross United Church of Christ
Hilo, Hawai’i