We Are Both Klingons

My wife and I had just finished our afternoon prayers when she said, “Oh, no.”

I turned to see her staring at her phone.


“Trump has just tweeted out a warning to Iran against attacking any Americans. He told them we had 52 Iranian sites targeted.”

Oy, vey. The Child President, he of much bullying and bluster, strikes again.

I can see him as a sixth-grader, hair swept back even then, taunting and glowering at the kindergarteners.

The thing is, we can be sure that Iran is quite aware of his hatred and also aware that many Iranian sites are targeted by the American military. It is the way we are. We have targeted hundreds if not thousands of sites across the world. I’m primarily looking at you Russia, China, and North Korea, in addition to Iran.

To be fair, other countries have hundreds or thousands of sites targeted in the United States. See countries named above.

We like to think we are a people of peace, reluctantly drawn into war, but such is not the case. The United States has been involved in roughly 80 wars, give or take, in our short history. We are not pikers when it comes to the war. We are Klingons. We have clearly instigated several wars, most notably the war with Mexico and the Spanish-American War. We also have conducted a genocide. You can ask any Native American about that. Let’s not even get into the violence of slavery.

And if you believe that General Sulimeini was the first leader in another country that we have assassinated, please think again. By most counts, we are well into the double figures. I am including Osama Bin Laden in my list, but it also includes democratically elected leaders, such as Chile’s Salvador Allende.

And, our killing of Suliemani was not the first time we have been involved in having our way, so to speak, with an Iranian government.

In fact, some people date our present discord with Iran as being rooted in our 1953 overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government, thus ending democracy in that country.

Mohammad Mossadegh was elected in 1951 as the thirty-fifth prime minister of Iran. He remained in office until 1953, when he was overthrown in a coup d’état orchestrated by the CIA and Great Britain’s MI6.

His sin against the Western powers was that he had nationalized the oil industry. The end result was that the power of the Shah was solidified and popular rule undercut.

Of no small import is the fact that the United States became the Big Dog in Iran, heavily subsidizing the Shah and his government, which in turn kept the oil spigots open and Big Oil happy. As the Shah become increasingly despotic, general resentment toward the United States increased.

That resentment exploded in 1979 when the unpopular Shah was deposed and the United States embassy invaded and many of its staffers imprisoned. Although they were later released, Iranian-American relations remained poor for decades.

Now, the Child President has precipitously upped the ante and, if possible, increased the hostility between the two.

Openly assassinating the leading general of Iran was an option rejected by both Presidents Bush and Obama.

It is hard to say that those were more prudent times, but such are the days in which we live. Those were more prudent times.

The Child President can kill and disrupt peace one day and threaten to make things even worse the next.

To be sure, Suleimani was a bad actor and present-day Iran openly kills its own citizens and instigates troubles across the Middle East. It is hard to cry for them.

Let us not think in this, however, that the United States has the moral high ground.

My thought is that we are both Klingons.

Woe be to those who get caught in between.

And let us pray that the violence end now. Suleimani isn’t worth it.

In the Name of All Decency, Donald, Please Shut Up

For maybe the last month or so, I’ve had an increasing urge to avoid news, especially political news. Television, radio, internet, newspaper, you name it, I have grown tired of it and run away from it as fast as I can.

This is unusual for me because one of my passions is politics. I used to work in the Texas legislature. Now, if you have heard any bad things about the Texas Legislature, they are most likely true. It is conservative, hard-hearted (in Texas terms, George W was a compassionate conservative.), dominated by special interests, and often mean, petty and venal. However, I worked in and around it for over twenty years and loved doing it. My biggest thrill was researching various policies and getting to be a small part of the state legislative process. My interest in policies and politics not only continued when I went into the ministry but it intensified because I was able to see first-hand the impact of government on people.

As Republican policies took hold in our state, it often angered me to see the miserly turn an already miserly government took. It was crushing to see Texas health and human services get worse. How could that happen? Legislators seemed oblivious to the human toll that their budget cutting took. The hardest hit were poor children. Over the last decade, they have seen a reduction in speech, occupational and physical therapy services; their schools were the first to lose programs and teachers; and, their parents often failed to qualify for needed medical services. Needless to say, no state policy was adopted with the aim of truly reducing poverty.

Politics is important. Now, my interest has run into the Donald Trump phenomenon and been flattened by it. His jingoism, bigotry, fear-mongering, and demeaning comments are like catnip to news organizations. Good God, he covers the news world. He made the news today for having a Muslim woman removed from one of his rallies for apparently standing in silent protest. There is no need enumerating his long list of repugnant comments and actions.

Early in the gospel of Mark, in chapter 1, verse 25, Jesus tells an unclean spirit to, “Be silent.” That Greek word that biblical interpreters translated as “be silent” or “be quiet” can also be translated as, “Shut up!” In other words, Jesus commands the unclean spirit to “Shut up!”

I pray for the day when news organizations and the American voters command Trump or whatever unclean spirit that inhabits him to “Shut up!” And, he has to because he has been defeated. Meanwhile, a lowly Methodist pastor may not be able to do much more than this, but I will do what I can in joining millions of others to hasten the coming of that day.