Old Man Trump

March 12, 2016

We live in a time with great need for prophetic poets and bards. As Republican frontrunner Donald Trumps preaches racism, bigotry, violence, and hatred, we need voices to help people see the dangers. Fortunately, one voice speaks from the grave with quite a fitting message: Woody Guthrie.

A singing hobo prophet, Guthrie amazingly wrote about the racism of Fred Trump, Donald's father. Guthrie referred to Fred as "Old Man Trump," which allows the lyrics to perfectly fit the new 'Old Man Trump.'

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project

I suppose Donald 'Old Man Trump' knows exactly what he's doing. Trump's stoking racism and deliberately playing with fire. His racism is not new and it lays the foundation for his rhetoric on immigration and other topics that echos the old lines of the KKK. He even dodged on national TV when asked to repudiate the KKK and other white supremacists. Too often it seems that when he says he wants to "Make America Great Again" he actually means "white again." And the people cheer.


Another Guthrie lyric on "Old Man Trump" hit the message again while also noting financial issues. Guthrie set this part to his classic song "I ain't got no home." Guthrie lived for awhile in Beach Haven, one of Fred Trump's properties.

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just cain’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!

Two decades later, the U.S. Justice Department took successful action after learning what Guthrie noted - 'Old Man Trump' discriminated against minorities in his housing complexes. The new 'Old Man Trump' appears to have inherited more than just money from his father.

As Trump stokes racism and violence at his rallies, the events are becoming increasingly dangerous. A white supporter punched a black protester in the face during a rally in North Carolina. And a black protester in St. Louis left a rally quite bloodied. At other rallies, black attendees have been shoved, called names, and even forced to leave when they hadn't done anything wrong. I noted the latter type of incident in a recent Red Letter Christians column I wrote on What Would Jesus of Valdosta Say to Donald Trump?

Just as I imagined in my column what Jesus from the Cotton Patch Gospel by Clarence Jordan might say about Trump, it would be interesting to imagine what Guthrie would say. I suspect he'd be glad his native Oklahoma voted against Trump. And he'd be even more excited Democrats in his state voted for fellow socialist Bernie Sanders (who even visited the Guthrie museum while campaigning in the state).

As 'Old Man Trump' continues to poison our politics and divide our nation, we need more voices willing to speak - or sing - truth to power. 

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