The tragedy of another terrorist attack on innocent people is once again stirring fear and sympathy as the world struggles to find a solution to this seemingly intransigent problem. And despite the fact that the tactics of these murderous swine proves that they are desperate and losing, the consequences are no less painful.
The responses to terrorist attacks are almost always insufficient. There is little one can say to comfort the victims and their families for their suffering and loss. There is, however, one thing that these events do not need, and that is more bellicose demagoguery of the sort that Donald Trump is wont to engage in. His post-Istanbul comments (video below) were typical of his impulse for impetuous violence and his embrace of ignorance. It’s a study in how a cranky child might react to not getting its way. But when seen in an adult who aspires to lead a great nation and a massive army it is downright frightening. Trump began his tantrum with an appeal to the infantile nature of his base saying…
“Folks, there’s something going on that’s really, really bad. Alright? It’s baaaad. And we better get smart, and we better get tough. Or we’re not gonna have much of a country left, OK? It’s bad.”
Apparently the key to Trump’s analysis is that terrorism is “bad.” What a revelation. If he had more time he might have added “icky” and lambasted the terrorists as “poopyheads.” It’s hard to know whether Trump was speaking down to the level of his followers or if this is just the limits of his intellectual capacity. In any case, it offers nothing useful to the discourse. But he was just getting started. He continued…
“Their laws say you can do anything you want and the more vicious you are the better.”
First of all, who is the “they” to which he is referring? That’s important in order to confirm the status of their laws. To my knowledge there is no legal entity that grants the right to “anything you want,” nor grants unrestricted viciousness. Certainly terrorists have shown that they are willing to be vicious, but rhetoric like this serve no purpose and appeals only to blind emotion. Trump proceeded by saying that…
“So we can’t do waterboarding which is, it’s not the nicest thing but it’s peanuts compared to many alternatives. So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they wanna do.”
The jealousy in Trump’s voice is palpable. Clearly he is miffed that the terrorists can act more heinously than he can. It’s not fair. He is so upset that he veers off into a fantastical imaginary scenario involving a terrorist family supper:
“And you know they eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table, or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about ‘the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop of heads.’ They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership. You have to fight fire with fire.”
I’m sure that’s exactly what terrorists discuss while dining. What could be more appetizing than a discussion of decapitation with the kids while enjoying a tasty siniyah kebab?
Setting aside the cognitive breakdown of Trump’s storytelling, he does actually get to the heart of his philosophy at the end: fight fire with fire. He believes that the United States should adopt the tactics of the terrorists. He is literally calling for Americans to decapitate our enemies or burn them alive because that’s just so American.
It is that brand of vengeful mindlessness that really defines Trump’s idiocy. Not only would it be a violation of our principles, it would be against international law. What’s more, it would validate the tactics of those we are fighting. It would give them permission to continue, and even escalate, their brutality while simultaneously indicting us for crimes against humanity.
Finally, Trump’s rash and irrational proposals would remove any moral authority we have in this struggle and bring into question whether what we are fighting for is any better. Had Trump been around during World War II he would have advocated gassing the Japanese who were being unjustly held in concentration camps. That isn’t the legacy that America hopes to project. It is an abhorrent policy of hatred and vengeance that does nothing to advance our goals. It is the core of the Trump Doctrine and must be rejected in huge numbers. In fact, recent polling indicates that it is already being rejected:
“Clinton leads Trump 50% to 39% on who would best handle terrorism […] Those surveyed also believe presumptive Democratic presidential nominee showed better temperament than her Republican counterpart in response to the attack, 59% to 25%, respectively. Clinton is also favored in confidence that she can handle a similar attack as president compared with Trump (53% to 34%) and that she has better proposals for preventing future attacks (44% to 35%).”
That’s a hopeful sign that the American people are not falling for Trump’s vile campaign of hate. But we must do more than hope that this endures until November. We must unite and work our asses off to avoid the nightmare of a Trump presidency.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.