“I am a nationalist.” That’s what Trump shouted at one of his bullshit rallies recently. All he needed was the brown-shirted “heil” salute. How much clearer could this be? We should understand his latest revealingly dangerous words and actions through the prism of 20th century history.
First he locks Latino children in cages. Then he wants to take away U.S. citizenship from kids who aren’t even born yet. He’ll attempt to rewrite the United States Constitution with a signature, even though every legal scholar (and anyone who has read the Constitution and passed high school history) understands that such an assertion is a total pendejada. Good morning in the bizarre, parallel universe of Donald Trump.
If it weren’t so pernicious, it would be great theater – great farce. But, regrettably this is all too real and peligroso. Civil rights? What the heck is that? The United States Constitution? That’s what I wipe my ass with. Decorum, respect and reason? You’ve gotta be kidding me.
As we all know he lives in a land of linguistic hyperbole. Everything he touches is somehow “the greatest, the most fantastic ever.” Anything he thinks he accomplishes is “the best in the history of this country.” Combine ridiculous gross exaggeration without any evidence at its foundation with a nonstop stream of outright lies and you have a very dangerous situation. Maybe “in the history of this country.” The danger is real. Let’s alienate everyone who is not white. Let’s demonize anyone who looks different (from Trump and his minions). Let’s undo civil rights protections that took generations to solidify. And the latest pendejada? Let’s send15-thousand United States soldiers to the border with Mexico. In typical fashion, he keeps changing the number of troops he plans to station down there “to secure the border.” Secure the border from what? Honduran and Guatemalan women and children seeking political asylum? (Maybe the next time he talks about the issue the number will be a million soldiers. “Biggest, best deployment ever, ever.”)
This dangerous nonsense about troops at the border comes as he deplores the caravan of asylum-seekers as a “threat to national security.” He calls these human beings “an infestation” and “criminal invaders.” We have to stand up to this dictator-in-waiting. Let’s not forget that fascist autocrats in history took a major step toward authoritarianism when they mobilized the army for personal political goals.
The wacko right-wing conspiracy nuts pick up the ball from Trump and run with it. Pretty soon the social media word is out that Jewish humanitarian groups and rich Democrats are somehow “funding” the marchers in the caravan. What a surprise? Wacko followers of Trump send pipe bombs in the mail and murder innocent people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Does Trump bear some responsibility for creating a climate of hate that contributes to this kind of violence? You bet he does. Does he think so? Of course not. It’s the media’s fault. They are purveyors of “fake news.”
Here’s his definition of “fake news.” If the news is something Trump doesn’t like, it’s fake. So, an accurate reporting of his racist tweets is something that he doesn’t like: ergo it’s fake news. Yes, we live in a Bizarro world.
This whole thing will come to a head when the mid-term elections coincide with the final days of the caravan. There will be blood. And more lies. At the moment Trump is claiming he can essentially rewrite the United States Constitution with the stroke of a Sharpie (his writing implement of choice, according to Bob Woodward’s latest book). He thinks he can undo the essence of the 14th Amendment with an executive order.
Anyone born in this country is automatically a citizen. Period. The Liar in Chief thinks he can change that, denying citizenship to babies born here if their parents are undocumented. (Did anybody check the immigration papers of those Brits who arrived on the Mayflower?) You don’t have to be a legal scholar to understand that Trump’s ploy is plain bullshit. It’s just another campaign tactic.
And that’s what’s very scary, especially if you know your history. One U.S. Senator has said, “President Trump has some trouble with the truth.” How polite. A more accurate description is: Trump is a pathological liar. The collision with the truth has very real consequences for the country. He goes on and on about how the mainstream media are “the enemy of the people.” Adolf Schicklgruber said the same thing in 1933, on his way to ultimate power in Germany. The history books remind us that he said: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Trump couldn’t have said it better himself.
But we don’t have to look to Europe for important lessons. In 1918 in the United States, President Woodrow Wilson (what a disappointment he turned out to be; university president and intellectual who was intellectually dishonest) did battle with the truth. The country had entered the World War and Wilson didn’t want any criticism that would hurt the war effort. A major turning point in this country’s history. It’s often forgotten.
Wilson created the Committee on Public Information, basically the office of official censor. One of his advisers encouraged Wilson, writing to him: “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms. The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.” Wilson urged Congress to pass the Sedition Act. A person could be thrown into prison for up to 20 years if he/she were to “utter, print, write to publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abuse language about the government.” The act expressly prohibited any criticism of the war effort. The Act made it illegal to “urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of anything or things necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war.”
Nothing would make Trump happier than to have such a law in effect. Only the punishable offense would be criticizing anything he says or does. The road to fascism is paved with pernicious intentions.
So, these are the latest tonterias from Trump. What do we do about it? Well, I tried yelling at the TV. Very loudly. Doesn’t seem to change anything. Joe Hill reminded us to “organize, organize.” The bold women in this country today are urging us to resist. Robert Mueller is still at work, but remember there is a spineless Republican Party in control of Congress (at least for the moment). Yes, you can rail online on social media, you can write your member of Congress, you can write letters to the editor of your newspaper (assuming your newspaper hasn’t already gone the way of the Dodo bird). Oh, and vote, damn it.
I say do it. Do it all. And if you’d like, you can still yell at the TV. At least if relieves a little bit of the stress and frustration.
Copyright by Luis R. Torres. Torres is an award-winning journalist and author of Dona Julia’s Children, a biography of civil right activist Vahac Mardirosian. He is currently researching a book on the life of political pioneer Gloria Molina.