What First Lady Michelle Obama gave us was a gift, a way to imagine America differently, a reaffirmation of the American Dream drawn from the experience of those who should have every right to be bitter about it. And she transformed politics from a blood sport about our wants and needs and anger today into a sacred promise we hold with our children to shape their lives and their futures.
That Donald Trump may believe we are living through another 1968 says less about the nation today and more about a man who may be our president. He admits to getting his news on cable, which creates a virtual 1968 with its constant images of unrest, violence, terrorism, and crime. But a virtual 1968 is not a real one, and we must expect any leader of our country to resist the emotional pull of gruesome television images and to think rationally and deliberately about the real state of our nation.
When Donald Trump launched his campaign over a year ago with racist and xenophobic language, a number of different commentators cautioned against the gradual “normalization” of Donald Trump and his viewpoints. There were valid concerns that continued media exposure would mitigate the shock factor, dampening the visceral reactions against the hateful rhetoric he spews.
You hear a gay bar called a “soft target,” and you are forced to confront the inconceivability of hardening the soft targets where you live your life, like the mall you were planning to shop at this afternoon, or the café where you ate last night, which in hindsight could be the twin of the Tel Aviv café where terrorists killed four people a few days before.
Once again, our nation is forced to struggle with the pain and confusion that follows an act of political violence, an act of terrorism. But I hope that an important facet of this attack does not go forgotten: Omar Mateen targeted the LGBT community, and he did so for a reason.