Actions have always spoken louder than words.

But the words on a $40 off-the-rack green jacket worn by first lady Melania Trump spoke volumes — not just about this White House and this Congress, but perhaps this nation.

“I really don’t care, do you?”

We can speculate — as many have — about what the First Lady was trying to convey. Perhaps there are some Navajo code talkers still around who can provide us a clue. Maybe it’s a kidnap victim’s hidden plea for help.

President Trump’s explanation is that the first lady’s message was directed at the “fake news media.” He said, “Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”

His response is no surprise. If he were to drop a large order of McDonald’s fries on the floor of Air Force One he’d see them spelling out a message that decries the fake news media. After a while, the rhetoric becomes tired and meaningless except to the most ignorant.

We aren’t so naive as to think there wasn’t intent behind the first lady’s attire. On her way out of the White House to visit a children’s shelter in Texas she didn’t just happen to mistake this jacket for the one that says, “I care about the kids, do you?”

Neither are we going to pretend that Melania is some deep thinker who is intricately involved in policy about children separated from their parents, about immigrants escaping an unimaginable life in their home countries, about Americans who are struggling to get by from day to day or about too many young people being killed by guns in their schools.

Rather than seeing the phrase as an anagram to a hidden meaning, we’ll interpret the message to be as simple and blatant as it appears.

Melania really doesn’t care.

Why should she be different from anyone else in the White House or in this administration?

She’s married to a man who is accused of committing adultery on numerous occasions.

Who cares? Do you?

We have a Republican-controlled Congress who’s only signature legislation in 1-1/2 years has been to give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while adding more than a trillion dollars to our nation’s debt.

Who cares? Do you?

We have a Russian “witch hunt” which has resulted in 23 indictments and five guilty pleas.

Who cares? Do you?

Maybe the First Lady’s jacket was meant as a distraction from the real plight of refugees and children at our southern border.

And maybe President Trump is a genius who really is a master at manipulating the public and not some spoiled, immature, egocentric, pathological liar who cares only about personal wealth and what it would take to become a dictator with unquestioned authority.

Who cares? Do you?

Maybe it’s time that we did.

If the people we’ve elected to run this nation in a fair, humane and just manner are incapable of doing so, then it’s time to show we care.

The owner of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, refused service to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week. Owner Stephanie Wilkinson explained to Sanders that the restaurant “has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion and cooperation.”

Sanders was asked to leave and she and her party did.

That decision has raised concerns on both sides of the issue from those who feel the owner’s action, while very discreet, was inappropriate. It should be clear that Sanders was denied service because the owner feels she defends an “inhumane and unethical” administration.

This isn’t a discrimination issue protected by law, but a matter of morality measured by one’s conscience.

Not since the civil rights era of the 1960s has this nation been in such a struggle to define who we are and the extent to which we were willing to fight for our soul.

Then, as now, we have options.

We can look away when children are separated from their parents.

We can pretend it doesn’t matter as the wealth gap continues to grow in this nation and the poor are left even further behind.

We can dismiss the unconscionable behavior of a president and his minions who berate young people whose friends died in a school shooting, who attack Gold Star parents and who defend racists as “good people.”

Ask yourself: is this the path that led to American exceptionalism?

Regardless of the cost to herself and her business, Stephanie Wilkinson said, “there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”

In other words, how bad does it have to get before u care?

 

Rod Haxton is publisher of The Scott County Record. He can be reached at editor@screcord.com.

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