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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A meditation for the Fourth of July

The United States under President Trump has now violated all boundaries of decency. The absolute silence of the Republican party, the obscene genuflection of many evangelical Christians before the idol in the White House, and the apparent indifference of Trump's constituents to every political and moral standard which this country formerly embraced are all symptomatic of a profound and disturbing decline in American democracy.

Numbed by the daily assaults on truth, we have ceased to recognize the degree to which we have fallen. It makes no difference that children from breastfeeding age to adolescence are ripped from asylum-seeking families and placed in detention -- an evil now part of the status quo. After the latest school shooting, business returns as usual and the NRA, with the complicity of its Republican backers, continues to terrorize our society. Scarcely an eyebrow is raised as the Justice Department claims it will no longer prosecute insurance companies that will not grant policies to clients with medical pre-conditions.

Environmental standards crumble as the world becomes increasingly unlivable. The threat to Social Security and Medicare as a result of Trump's budget-breaking tax cut for the wealthy scarcely registers. The rise of white supremacists makes no impression on the national conscience. Praise of North Korea's murderous dictator and the denigration of our closest allies is tolerated without a shrug, even as Kim Jung Un is praised for his honesty and the American free press is almost daily misrepresented as "fake news." The American embassy is moved to Jerusalem -- a city consecrated alike to Jews, Christians, and Muslims -- in a ceremony presided over by mega-church fanatics who regard the followers of other religions as destined for hell, while Palestinians are being killed wholesale on Israel's border, and fair-minded Jews and Christians wring their hands as their values, like all things touched by Trump, are tarnished beyond recognition. The Mueller investigation, notwithstanding the probity of the investigators and the continued threat of Russian interference in our elections, is accepted by Trump supporters as a deep state conspiracy.

And all of this occurs without a sense of national shame as America descends into a proto-fascist authoritarian regime. This July fourth, we should all take the knee to a flag that has been unconscionably weaponized and in doing so bear witness to a genuine patriotism which recognizes how far we have fallen from the ideals of American justice, compassion and humanitarianism.

Stephen Gurney