Actions, not words, will change this country. When President Trump besmirched civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a national hero, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (yes, my dad — so what?) sent a message to Trump: Respect for the presidency is not a permanent fixture. Yarmuth showed what he stands for by boycotting the inauguration of a president behaving beneath the office.
Here is more action: The day after the pro pussy-grabbing, anti-Mexican and -Muslim Trump was sworn in on the Capitol steps, the largest protest in history marched on Washington, D.C. and worldwide, all organized by women and men.
Next week, LEO will publish its Resistance Issue, giving examples of people who resist, and how to organize and do it yourself — all ways to take action.
Trump and the Republicans have been great at telling us what’s wrong, who’s to blame and why we should be afraid and angry. For Trump to be a uniter, however, he needs to show us more than rhetoric — he can’t tweet his way back into America’s good graces. He must take action to close the divide his campaign exposed.
Nationally and locally, our leaders must act, not just talk.
For example, state Reps. Darryl Owens and Attica Scott are taking action, leading efforts to give Louisville the authority to regulate guns and ammunition sales within our city. Mayor Greg Fischer should show us he is behind them… not just tell us.
Speaking of all talk and empty rhetoric, what is Greater Louisville Inc. CEO, Kent Oyler doing for us?
A recent op-ed in The Courier-Journal by Oyler, was so thoughtless and empty that I was actually offended. The head of Louisville’s chamber of commerce — the self-proclaimed voice of business — had a chance to speak out on serious racial and economic issues within our city, on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. He wasted it with highfalutin ramblings reminiscent of a Trump campaign rally.
It was so startlingly devoid of meaning a blank, white page would have said more than the rhetorical exercise he used to clutter the page. He should have more to say on these issues. He, and GLI, should have more to do on these issues. If not, he should not comment at all.
Oyler’s op-ed could have contained actual proposals, demonstrating actual progress, such as: “Here at GLI we have X number of members in The West End, and are doing Y and Z to boost that another X next year. We are working with our members to focus on programs to expand into The West End. We are looking to hold entrepreneurship fairs, for opportunities to invest in West End businesses…”
Instead, he gave us:
“So starting today let’s collectively decide to take the time to reach out, listen and learn. May we commit to that?”
“The first step is to get over the discomfort of addressing tough truths and entrenched stereotypes by listening and learning from each other.”
“Suspicion and stereotyping haven’t taken us anywhere positive in the past and won’t in the future.” Thanks for the feel-good advice, Kent.
There are many ways that Oyler, and GLI, can make a tangible difference in healing the economic divide in our city.
As for Trump, well, he has probably already squandered his opportunity to be a unifying force. I had remained hopeful that winning might at least put a stop to the petulant tweeting. And then we got midnight tweets about Meryl Streep, “Saturday Night Live” and John Lewis. Next, there were the lies about the inaugural attendance, and what about those alternative facts?
So much for my hope.
But Oyler still has time to show us he cares about The West End. Show us, GLI, that you care about the tree canopy, and whether workers earn a livable wage. Mr. Mayor, show us you support local-gun-regulation legislation.
John Lewis showed up… and continued to show up until the arc of history bent and bent, and gave way to change. From D.C. to Louisville, it’s time for our leaders to show us their characters, not just 140 of them.