Patterns matter. Ask any math teacher.
Toddlers see the pattern in separating red blocks from blue blocks (the reds go here, blues over there); grade schoolers learn their multiplication tables by deciphering patterns; high schoolers see that algebra and trigonometry and calculus are all about function, how the pattern of one number logically begets the next.
Patterns help us see how things work.
Last week, President Trump threw his support behind an accused sexual abuser, senate candidate Roy Moore down in Alabama. To this point we’ve had Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly and Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein. We have a pattern.
We’ve even had Donald J. Trump himself, one month before we elected him president, bragging about his pattern of sexual assault on tape: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Now we’ve got Roy Moore, a man banned from the mall and the YMCA because he was known to prey on teenage girls; a man watched by law enforcement at ball games to make sure he did not hang around the cheerleaders; a man who remains tied or ahead in the polls because his supporters would rather vote for an accused pedophile than a democrat.
Think about that. The patterns of these men tell the story, yet we gladly turn a blind eye to their horrific behaviors, so long as we get our own way. Because we’ve established a pattern, too.
If an accused child molester is what it takes to get us tax reform, nabs another Supreme Court seat, and keeps democrats out of office, the people scream, Amen and sold! Show us to the voting booth!
The patterns established this first year of the Trump presidency are alarming. For example, you need only follow Trump’s own statements and tweet-storms to see the pattern of his rages: Stephan Curry, Jemele Hill, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Frederica Wilson, LaVar Ball, Gold Star father Kzhir Khan, Judge Curiel, Muslim immigrants, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Puerto Rican Mayor Yulin Cruz, CNN’s Don Lemon, the Haitians he wants to deport, Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and, of course, his favorite punching bags: NFL players and Colin Kaepernick.
If a toddler sees the pattern in separating red blocks from blue blocks, you could say the president does the same with people. White men like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted in criminal court, gets a pass, a presidential pardon. But the president maintains a long and growing list of disrespectful, ungrateful brown and black people who must be called out in public, and shamed. In Trump’s America, ungrateful is the new uppity.
You could argue, as I’m sure many of you will, that the case of Kaepernick and the NFL is different, a special and offensive circumstance in its own right. But is it?
The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman, in his article on Sep. 26, makes an interesting case: “If you don’t like how Black Lives Matter pursues its agenda, you should welcome the NFL players’ approach. It’s silent; it’s not disruptive; and it’s entirely nonviolent. It doesn’t block traffic, occupy police or frighten bystanders.” And if your issue is that you believe these black players are disrespecting the flag, consider that “no flags are harmed — and it could be taken as a form of respect for the flag to mutely signal your belief that the ideals it represents are not being realized.”
Is there room to consider Chapman’s argument, or have we established such a firm belief-pattern of our own — to never change our minds, even when presented new and plausible information — that we are destined to remain stuck?
This is exactly what has happened down in Alabama. Voters, mostly Christians, long ago made their choices and established a pattern they can live with, and now they must vote for, must elect, the accused pedophile because at least he is not a democrat, and they cannot break the pattern.
Patterns help us see how things work. Ask any math teacher.
Then ask any American: do the patterns of men like Roy Moore and the president define who you are, who you want to be?