I posted that earlier to my facebook feed, and I’ll be honest… When I did it I was kind of hoping it would encourage my friend who studied the life of Fred Rogers extensively to chime in because I knew he would have something pertinent to say. I was not wrong.
“Fred Rogers had such a huge problem with both Regan (who he programmed his show against) and Bush Jr. (The latter of which is much more complicated as they had a relationship that tested Fred’s boundaries.) that I can’t say “I can’t imagine how Fred would react” I know how Fred would react based on his interactions with the lesser evils of Reagan and Bush:
1. Had he not been retired, he would have themed weeks specifically against what Trump was putting in the news cycle. When Trump mocked a disabled reporter he’d have a week on disability and inclusion, when Trump promoted sexual assault, he’d program a week on respect and physical boundaries, when he bad mouthed women he’d have strong women on for a week. Fred would have travelled to do a week on Mexico and he would have moved in an Islamic neighbor.
I know this for a fact because these are the actions he took with Regan both with his “conflict weeks” and his traveling to Russia for remotes during the Cold War.
2. Fred would have attended events Trump invited him to but he would do so on his terms. He would participate in these events as well as long as it was on his terms. Because Fred would rather speak truth into those spaces then avoid them. But Fred would not accuse, he would just bear truth, refuse to be seen as supporting an evil and exit.
This is what he did to respond to the love the Bush family had for him and his work. He even offered prayer at one of their fundraisers: but it was a challenging prayer, one insisting that those in power and privilege use that for the least of these and especially children. After delivering that prayer Fred exited the building and sat outside like a kid after soccer practice waiting for his ride, spurning the thousands of dollars a plate dinner not even gladhanding with the bushes after.
When asked why he said he had reached the limit of what he could do before becoming an accuser. He wanted to challenge but never accuse as accusation was what Fred associated with the devil.
3. Fred would accept invitations to news programs when those programs allowed him to educate parents on countering the negative things coming from the president for their children. He knew those things affected children so he wanted to spread tools on helping them reject war, violence, hatred, oppression and racism.
He did this during any presidents term if it didn’t prevent him from meeting an obligation to children (he once turned down a spot on Nightline to talk about violence and children, one of his main causes, because he had a visit to an elementary school that same morning and knew he wouldn’t be mentally present for it if he was planning for Nightline in the afternoon.)
So we need to be like Fred. Getting in between children and any normalization of Trumps ways or words. Fred would have been diligently working on how to handle Trump in the land of make believe. Just like when King Friday started building nuclear bombs with money he promised to schools. Yeah Fred wasn’t subtle.” - Rev. Kevin Ireland
So much love for the people who share my love for Mr. Rogers, an actual saint among us for as long as we were blessed to have him.
I don’t believe in angels but I do believe in Fred Rogers.