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Pocketbook vs. Moral Values

Author: Naishadh Saraiya It is said that money isn’t everything, it is the only thing. People who believe this and worship money should remember that the root cause of societal ills and individual downfall is also greed and ego.


Greed, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (usually money) than is needed.” Normally this behavior is applied to relatively wealthy individuals.


One of the most important attributes of moral values is to be able to distinguish between right and wrong such as fairness vs. greed or the wellness of society vs. self-interest. Ethics, honesty and truthfulness round out the rest.


Focusing on the pocketbook while ignoring moral values is a pure form of greed. There is no other way to explain it.


Let us look at the present moral fabric of the society under President Trump.


Trump has shown a complete disdain for truth, fairness and civility. He is prone to corruption, nepotism and dishonesty. His ego has no bounds. If we look at the moral values mentioned above, he has proven himself to be a completely immoral and selfish individual. One may even say he is unfit for any position of power, let alone the Presidency of the United States. The President sets the tone for the whole country and his actions affect the whole world. When a leader of the country is immoral, it affects the whole society. It is a slippery slope towards the decay of moral values.


Now let us look at his record since taking the oath of the Presidency to “Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States”:


Attack on free speech in violation of the constitution Amendment 1 Attack on freedom of press in violation of Amendment 1 Tacit approval of aggression on the opposing viewpoint Tacit endorsement of white-supremacist groups Politicizing financial institutions Politicizing judicial system Openly racist rhetoric and ideology Misuse of Presidential power Attack on the environment Voter suppression efforts Personal insults on opponents and lack of civility Disregard for the truth Downgrading women’s worth Ignoring the separation of state and church,

… And the list goes on


And yet, he enjoys the steadfast support of 34 % or so of the voters.


Why? One of the most talked about arguments in his favor happens to be a tax cut. A tax cut that was passed on the back of poor and disadvantaged. A tax cut that heavily favored very wealthy individuals and big corporations. This is also a tax cut that is designed to undermine social safety networks and raise the burden of the deficit to be borne by the future generations: our children and grandchildren. Obviously, this is an immoral action by its very definition.


To my Indian Republican friends who are staunch supports of Trump and presumably have benefitted from this tax cut and who are willing to ignore issues mentioned above, one can ask if the financial gain outweighs their sense of morality. It’s a little harsh to say but as Dante Aligheiri, an Italian poet, has famously said “The darkest places in hell are preserved for those who maintain their neutrality in time of moral crisis.”


Out of the long list of negative attributes of Trump policy, the racist rhetoric and tacit advocacy of racism ought to be the most concerning issue for the Indian Americans. Racism raised its ugly head because Trump propagates it. The danger is that the racism may creep slowly into the mainstream of society if unchecked.


Regardless of our socio-economic status, we, after all, have a brown skin. As Jessica Arce very nicely articulated in her Time magazine article (8/19/19 issue), “our brown skin makes us the target of hate”. It is not a question of if we entered this country, per President Trump, the “right way” or per our Republican friends, “legally”. Under the Republican extremism of late, America has become a country where color of the skin is the most important factor. If you are a “person of color” (black, brown or non-white ethnicity), it means you are a target of hate.

The shooter in El Paso, TX, did not ask the people he shot dead if they were there “legally” or the “right way”. The common factor was the brown skin, because, as Trump puts it, they were invading the country.


Talking about the “invasion”, Fox News, the mouthpiece of Trump and the “alt-right”, has recently hosted guests (Mark Steyn and others) who advocate and promote the theory of “invasion” of non-white (aka browns) and predict dire consequences to Anglo-Saxon, western civilization if unchecked migration takes place. One of the more incendiary discussion revolves around a very racist book called “The Camp of Saints” by Jean Raspail, a French author. It was originally published in 1973 and is now in its sixth American edition.


In this book, the author dreams about a mythical flotilla of boats from the river Ganges carrying “uncivilized” Indians and invading the shores of France. The book goes on to describe the horrors created by this invasion of people of “inferior” culture.


This fear-mongering can have a lasting effect. While historically, all immoral people are losers, they can create lot of damage in between.


Back to moral values. How moral is it to separate the children from their parents? What moral person can condone the brutality at the borders? What moral person subscribe to the notion that it is OK to kill people simply because they are “brown”? How do you look the other way when the alt-right faction mows down people who are demonstrating against their policy?


Does economic gain outweigh these factors and issues?


The same system that allowed us to migrate to this country and prosper is under attack. If our democratic infrastructure is taken down, who is going to protect us from being treated similarly to migrants from Honduras or Mexico?


One of my favorite quotes was given by Hungarian Methodist Minister, Martin Niemoller on the subject of rise of the Nazi party and Hitler:

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.”

What goes around, comes around. You are NOT immune.


As is said in Latin, “Caveat Emptor”, let the buyer beware. When you buy Trump’s tax cut, you also buy his policies and immoral values. It is a package deal; one cannot choose only one element and ignore the rest.


So, my Republican Indian-American friends, let us work to defeat this slippery slope of racism and his agenda of hate.


Let us vote them out of their power and send them to oblivion.


To quote President Obama, “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

Naishadh Saraiya

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To quote President Barak Obama, “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

Author: Naishadh Saraiya

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