My dad Bill Brown was born on December 7, 1913. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on his 28th birthday, he enlisted in the Army to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." A lifelong Republican I guarantee you he is rolling in his grave at what has become of his Grand Old Party and the real and present threat to the American Values he held dear."
I wrote those words in a 2016 Facebook tribute to my daddy on what would have been his 103rd birthday. I re-post them today in the wake of verifiable reports that the current Commander-in-Chief continues his assault on the nation he swore to defend by dismissing the service of those in our military as "losers" and "suckers." And when those reports -- initially generated by the Jeffrey Goldberg feature article in the Atlantic -- are verified by numerous news sources -- including Fox News (no that isn't a typo) reporter reporter Jennifer Griffin -- it is not hyperbolic to contend that the challenges to democracy in general and the American Dream in particular are as dire today as they were in 1941 -- and that the need to enlist to defend our Constitution no less urgent.
Only this time the attack isn't coming from a hostile nation dropping bombs on a military installation created to protect our nation from the outside. These attacks are coming from a White House dropping incendiary rhetoric and destructive policies designed to dismantle the civic infrastructure created to protect our nation from the inside. And this week's shocking revelations about our military are just the tip of the iceberg.
To be clear: As disgusting as it may be, I do not believe this evidence that the current President holds those who serve in our military in contempt is any worse than the evidence that he thinks he is entitled to "grab women by the p****." As shocking as it is, I do not believe that calling those who enlist to defend our nation "losers" and "suckers" differs in substance from calling those who exercise their First Amendment rights through peaceful protest in our streets "anarchists" and "thugs." And so as quickly as I rise to resist this language from the man elected to represent all the people when it is directed at members of the military, I believe we must all rise just as quickly to resist both language and actions directed at any of the people. Overtly racist rhetoric and policies perpetuating White Supremacy. Bans targeting Muslims. Discrimination targeting transgender Americans. Attacks on the immigrant population. Misogynist assaults on women in general and women reporters, governors and legislators in particular. The list goes on and on.
In 1941 when our democracy was under attack, my dad enlisted. Not because he was a sucker or a loser but because he loved his country and believed its aspirational values of liberty and justice for all were worth protecting. That was then. This is now.