Having watched President Trump last night on television, it's easy, especially if you have no greater sense of history, to think that we live in the darkest of times.
Feeling especially disheartened as to Trump refusing to denounce Nazis, I picked up a few days ago John A. Farrel's biography, "Richard Nixon: A Life."
It's a good book to read if you are the anti-Candide, and you believe these are the worst of all possible times.
When Nixon was in Congress, in the Senate, and in the White House, racism, anti-semitism, and general intolerance toward anyone or any group who were not WASPs, was the norm.
Nixon and his peers hardly even made an effort to conceal their disdain for people different from they.
People, of course, don't remember the cruel and unjust levels of bigotry and hatred in this country. They don't know that virtually every public housing project in the United States was officially segregated, and that it was virtually impossible for a black family, no matter how affluent to get a government-backed mortgage.
People also don't remember the level of violence in this country. In the decade of the 1930s, there were over 300 lynchings in the US (download Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" sometime.) And they don't remember that in one 18-month period between 1969 and 1970, 370 terrorist bombs were detonated in the US.
None of this is to apologize for our current feckless state of affairs, or for our Troglodyte in Chief.
Never have we had a such an incompetent in the Oval Office, including Ronald Reagan and Warren Harding.
But as bad as things are, we will not only endure. We will survive.
As my oldest and wisest friend, Fred, wrote to me not long ago, The world has endured far greater atrocities than Donald Trump. The world has endured famine, war, holocaust... the list goes on. And yet you and I showed up on the other side and have lived bountiful, productive lives. Enduring Trump is one of the world's easier challenges. Maddening, indeed. But we'll come out on the other side, and we'll realize, that compared to what others have endured -- this was a cake walk."