Trump's Impulsiveness is a Threat to Jesuit Education

By Patrick J. Howell SJ

“Americans have come to rely on the continuous feed of wacky, sad and terrifying White House moments for entertainment, even if the ultimate effect jangles nerves and overloads synapses,” according to Lorraine Ali in a perceptive article in the Los Angeles Times.  We are hooked on Trump’s superlatives, which are more like a Barnum & Bailey circus barker (“Like the World Has Never Seen”) than presidential.

But unlike the normal circus, which entertains and frightens with daring feats and then folds its tent, the circus in the White House endures day after day after day.  Our senses are jaded with the sheer bravado, the defiance of truth, the shredding of dignity, and moral vacuity of the show.

We should not, we cannot, we will not be deluded.  Jesuit institutions, founded on the truth and compassion of the Gospel and the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises,  need to be courageous centers for reasoned, civic discourse and a public, prophetic voice for those who are marginalized. 

This is no time for neutrality or diplomatic silence.   White supremacy, Nazi-style demonstrations, and anti-Semitism cannot be condoned.  There is no equivalence.  There are no good guys among Klan-like racists.

It is a time for courage; not for acquiescence; a time to speak out, not to withhold judgment; a time to risk alienating some university sponsors, not to accede to self-serving calculations. 

Trump’s impulsive demagogic style endangers us all.  He threatens the soul of a Jesuit university.

Patrick J. Howell SJ is a Professor of Theology and Ministry and Seattle University and Distinguished Professor in Residence at SU's Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. He is also the Chair of the Seminar which publishes Conversations Magazine. Currently, Howell is the Interim Director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, CA. 

The cover photo is featured courtesy of John Hain.