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An open letter to President Trump

November 25, 2018

Mr. President, your statement regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is an affront to the core values of our nation embodied in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Mr. Khashoggi’s unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was alienated by an authoritarian government with no regard for freedom of speech.

Your thin attempt at citing Saudi Arabia’s efforts against Iran as justification glosses over the Saudi’s indefensible human rights violations in Yemen while simultaneously revealing your belief that we are not strong enough to curb Iran on our own. You do not waste much time talking about abstract ideas like terrorism, however. Your primary justification is economic. You entice us to go along with you by waving dollars in front of us. In doing so, you have clearly communicated to the world that at least on your watch, America’s founding values can be bought if the price is high enough. Saudi Arabia has demonstrated to the world how to get away with murder and crimes against humanity — buy off the only independent actor with the muscle to stop them.

Your response to this tragedy underscores a belief that our core founding values are more akin to the Pirate’s Code from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise — more like guidelines. Guidelines freely discarded at the whim of economic advantage or convenience. That is not how our founders viewed them. These rights were self-evident and unalienable. They were not to be compromised. Your economic arguments regarding Saudi Arabia echo some of the Loyalists’ arguments for not breaking with Great Britain in the first place, valuing economic stability over right ideals. Our founders viewed economic gain as worthless, however, if attained by sacrificing human dignity. Our founders viewed the ideals embodied in our Constitution as worthy of paying the ultimate price, whether in blood or treasure. Many did.

It is the Constitution, Mr. President, not Wall Street, to which you took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend.” Our very survival depends on our Constitution. You made two decisions last week that, I’m afraid, show your true view of our constitutional ideals. You employed troops to our border with Mexico to defend us from the ravages of economic migrants and refugees from violence. People who are poor, unarmed and desperate. People with no ability to fight back. Simultaneously, you failed to offer even a mild censure of Saudi Arabia over its role in the egregious murder of Mr. Khashoggi, deferring your leadership role to Congress.

Your stated reason for doing so was Saudi Arabia’s ability to fight back economically. You are making a show of strength against the defenseless while cowing before the strong. In both cases you have failed to preserve the ideals of our Constitution. This is cowardly behavior. The strength of our nation is found in our Constitution, not Wall Street. Our ideals are still worth our sacrifice.

Otto Gallaher describes himself as a middle-aged, Constitution-loving, married-father-of-three, gun-owning, lifelong registered Republican, an Eagle Scout and a law student.

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