Finally, someone is taking Donald Trump seriously and not as “entertainment” in this pre-primary season.
Tom Friedman (“Bonfire of the Assets, With Trump Lighting Matches” – August 26, NY Times) called Donald Trump out as the intolerant bigot that he is.
More than any other political figure since Joe McCarthy, Trump is second to none in his insensitivity and lack of empathy for other human beings.
“You’ve Been Trumped,” is a 2011 documentary by the British filmmaker Anthony Baxter that documents Trump’s construction of a luxury golf course on a beach in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the ensuing battles Trump provoked between the local residents, legal and governmental authorities. Trump effectively destroyed that community for the people who lived there.
Tom Friedman wrote of Trump’s campaign this week:
“And now we have Trump shamelessly exploiting this issue [illegal immigration]… He’s calling for an end to the 14th Amendment’s birthright principle, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born here, and also for a government program to round up all 11 million illegal immigrants and send them home — an utterly lunatic idea that Trump dismisses as a mere “management” problem. Like lemmings, many of the other G.O.P. presidential hopefuls just followed Trump over that cliff.
This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one.
Every era spews up a Joe McCarthy type who tries to thrive by dividing and frightening us, and today his name is Donald Trump.”
I have been asking politically savvy people whether they think Trump could become the Republican nominee for President, and everyone believes this to be impossible, that he is so ignorant and ill-informed about policy and substance that it is only a matter of time before the public realizes that there is nothing there there.
I pray they are right, but I confess to being very worried that they are wrong as we watch Trump’s ratings grow (24% now of the Republican primary voters), and his savvy management of his image as a truth-telling take-no-prisoners business guy whose “politically incorrect” statements of “fact” attract more and more angry, bigoted and frustrated people to his campaign. Yes, the boil that is Donald Trump could be lanced and he could exit the political scene at some point in the near future, but I’m not counting on it.
Tom Friedman was right to reference the Joseph McCarthy era in relation to Trump. It can happen again. As a reminder, here is an account from the US Senate History of the McCarthy hearings of June 9, 1954 when the pivotal turning point of the McCarthy hysteria was finally reached after several years of McCarthy’s attack on thousands of Americans:
“…The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch’s attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy’s career: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
Overnight, McCarthy’s immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.”
Why is this not happening in the Republican Party at the very least?
I’m reminded of what William Butler Yeats said as a possible explanation:
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
And so, what ought we to do about this?
Every journalist, every editorial page of every newspaper in the country, every political leader, every decent American ought to be calling Trump out for the bigot and demagogue that he is before he can do any more damage to the American body politic and American democracy itself.