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Sunday, October 16, 2016

On Thailand, Trump, and Defending the Underdogs

Last week, the king of Thailand died. CNN called him "a revered figure who helped unify the nation in his 70-year reign."

When I lived in Asia, I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, every year for a conference. It's a beautiful country. The beaches are some of the best in the world, the sun is warm, and the people are warmer. However, it's well known that sex crime is common in Thailand. Wikipedia details the practice of trafficking Thai women and children into sex slavery and notes that Thailand is rated by the U.S. State Department as a "tier 3" country, one of a couple dozen countries that isn't doing nearly enough to combat trafficking. The sex market is driven both by local men seeking prostitutes and by Thailand's reputation as a sex tourism destination. And when I say "sex tourism destination," let me remind you that this means (among other things) that men from other countries are traveling to Thailand so that they can pay money to rape Thai women and children.

Once, while I was at my conference in Thailand, a colleague made an offhand comment about the king: "They love that guy. If he would speak out against this stuff, it might get better. But he doesn't."

I don't actually know if the king of Thailand ever tried to do the hard work of cleaning up the sleaze in his country. But I was struck by that comment because it reminded me that a single leader can have amazing influence for good or for evil among his people.

I want Thailand to have a leader who stands up for the 80,000+ women and children who have been trafficked into the Thai sex industry since 1990. I want Thailand to have a leader who is willing to turn away tourism dollars if it means its most vulnerable people are better protected. I want there to be someone in the highest levels of leadership who will speak for them.

One measure of a good society is that it is good to the weak. Psalm 82:3-4 summarizes God's heart on this topic:
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Defend the weak.

This leads me to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has lots of things to say about people he perceives as weak. His insults to the disabled, the grieving, the unattractive, and the vulnerable are well documented and I'm not going to repeat them here. (His boasts about trying to seduce married women and kissing or groping women without consent are also well documented and have been recently corroborated by more than one of the women in question. He is clearly no defender of women.)

When I think about my country, I want the same things for us that I spoke of for Thailand. I want the most vulnerable people in our society to be protected, valued, and built up. I want the oppressed, the weak, the poor, the very young, the very old, and the very new members of our society to have advocates. I want there to be voices speaking on their behalf in the highest levels of our leadership. Additionally, as a woman, I want leaders who make it clear that sexual crimes against women will be prosecuted, not celebrated.

I want a leader who will set the standard for defending those who most need defense. Not mocking them. Defending them. A single leader can have a remarkable impact on how the least powerful people in a given society are treated.

Based on all that you have now heard from Trump, can you really imagine him defending anyone other than himself?

Post Script: For many months, I've intended to write out my thoughts on Donald Trump, and explain in detail why I am not voting for him. I intended to try to persuade you to join me in saying, "Never Trump," and especially I intended to try to persuade any of you who, like me, are lifelong Republicans and conservative Christians.

But so much has been said about Donald Trump and by Donald Trump already that the case against him has been made. I'm not sure I can add anything to the pile of reasons against him. My thoughts here are only one small reason why I don't support him for President, and I chose to write from this angle because I thought I could bring something new to the table by sharing my thoughts this week when I heard about the Thai king's death.

If you want to call, e-mail, visit, text, or message me to delve into the many other issues at play (character, experience, temperament, national security, abortion, immigration, foreign policy, Supreme Court, Clintons, Obama, religion, or anything else), I would be glad to share more of my thoughts with you. Please keep it civil if you comment here; I will delete comments that are off topic or unkind. And please, don't vote for Trump!

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