As a member of the American journalistic fraternity, Donald J. Trump labels me a “damned dishonest” purveyor of “fake news,” in league with “crooked bad people” who clearly despise the United States. Be duly warned! As Dorothy and Scarecrow intoned whilst traipsing through a scary forest in the Land of Oz, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my…!”
Last month in Arizona, during a rip-roaring rally of his fascistic flock, the president of the United States elaborated on his dim view of the likes of myself: “I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that.” Earlier this year, he denounced us gazetteers as “enemies of the people,” word for word an echo of his progenitors in tyrannical scorn: Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, both blessedly gone to Abaddon—
Speaking of eternal damnation, let us turn back the calendar to that lovely time when Mr. Trump was a dismissible crudity among many candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. As reported on December 8, 2015:
WASHINGTON (CNN) Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s time for Republicans to rebuke presidential hopeful Donald Trump, urging his party to tell Trump to “go to hell.”
“You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell,” Graham said on CNN-Television’s “New Day” program, picking up on the [Republican] front-runner’s famous slogan.
The South Carolina Republican was responding to Trump’s statement released Monday calling for the U.S. to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
“He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” Graham told [interviewer] Alisyn Camerota. “He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. … He’s the [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] man of the year.”
Over these painfully long eight months of the Trump regime, most Americans have come to appreciate Mr. Graham’s prescience. Donald Trump may escape prison bars, but we’re rooting for Lucifer’s brand of justice. Meanwhile, we are taking a sober measure of this very odd and very dangerous president: of his character, his disregard of constitutional law, his damn-the-expense aim to build a continent-wide concrete wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, his passive reaction to murderous street violence last month in Charlottesville (fomented by nazis and the Ku Klux Klan) and his hétéroclite appeal among America’s lumpenproletariat.
Most Americans—those sixty-six percent of us who robustly disapprove of the president’s behavior and policies, according to the latest Gallup poll—now realize the sorry mistake of Mr. Trump’s election. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens suggests that we should have realized the stench of Donald John Trump well before Election Day last November.
“You could smell it in the shyster methods by which Trump built his business,” Mr. Stephens wrote on August 19. “The unpaid bills, the endless lawsuits, the deceitful advertising, the shady business partners. You could smell it in the sort of people drawn, like flies to sewage, to Trump’s candidacy.”
People like Trump enthusiasts Nigel Farage of Britain, racist foe of the European Union; Marine Le Pen, l’esprit fascisme français; President Andrzej Duda of Poland, a Soviet-style authoritarian; Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the far-right Alternative for Germany party; Geert Wilders, chairman of the retrograde Dutch Party of Freedom; David Duke, the Louisiana Republican and former “grand wizard” of the KKK; Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a nazi consultantcy—and Sebastian Gorka, the recently departed Islamophobic foreign policy adviser in the White House who proudly attended Mr. Trump’s inaugural balls last January in his black braided tunic bearing the medallion of the Vitézi Rend, a Third Reich front in Hungary during the second world war.
Now gathers the storm of scathing judgments. Consider merely five:
- Mitt Romney, the urbane Republican candidate for president in 2012, said of his party’s 2016 counterpart: “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are…worthless…He’s playing the American public for suckers…[D]ishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark [along with] bullying, greed, showing off, misogyny, [and] absurd third-grade theatrics.”
- “…Trump’s racist and xenophobic campaign, and his lukewarm condemnation of white supremacists, has heightened racial tensions in America to the point that it’s raising alarms in the global community.” — Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center
- “It’s really quite amazing when you think that freedom of the press, not only a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution but very much something that the United States defended over the years is now itself under attack from the president.”— Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations high commissioner for human rights
- “A person who thinks only about building walls…and not building bridges, is not a Christian.”— Pope Francis, regarding the Trump administration’s insistence on a 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border wall
- “He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.” — Congressman Duncan Hunter, speaking at a meeting of the Riverside County Young Republicans in California
Everywhere in the nation’s newsrooms, computers are clacking up a chronicle of daily outrages that spew from the mouth of Trump, or his Twitter account. Beginning with the “America First” pledge of his January inaugural address, a locution redolent of 1930s fascism on these shores, they are no less noxious at this time. Among them, a small selection of things Mr. Trump has said and done since January:
- Fired James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for refusing to cease the FBI probe of alleged criminal collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign of 2015-16, whereby Russian hackers and propagandists effected the president’s victory;
- Ended American participation in the Paris Climate Accords, chiefly to spite the two European leaders who have supplanted his international suasion—namely, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron—and secondarily to underscore his theory that climate change is a hoax invented by Chinese bankers;
- Accused London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, of being indifferent to terrorism—hours after a terrorist attack on the British capital;
- Praised self-avowed murderer Rodrigo Duterte, sociopathic leader of the Philippines, for encouraging police and vigilante gangs to slaughter whomever they believed to be drug dealers;
- Horrified the world by responding to reporters’ questions about potential U.S. military force against North Korea with, “We’ll see”;
- Accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in Manhattan (which a federal investigation proved false);
- Contrary to a constitutional mandate that prohibits presidents and their families from accepting payments from foreign governments, Trump-owned hotels and businesses—as well as daughter Ivanka’s New York-based company, reliant on Chinese sweat shop labor and Chinese trademarks—are set to reap millions of dollars in defiance of law;
- Revealed highly classified Israeli military intelligence on Middle East terrorism to a troika of Russian spies, invited to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House—attended by Russian journalists, but off limits to U.S. media;
- With his wife, Melania Knauss, signed the Book of Remembrance at Israel’s Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) as if it was a high school yearbook: “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends…So amazing & will never forget.”
—As if the foregoing were not sufficiently disgusting, behold how Mr. Trump closed out his summer of shabby conduct:
- In the wake of Virginia’s nazi/klan jamboree—concluded on August 25 when an alleged kluxer allegedly rammed his car into social justice activist Heather Heyer, killing her—the president granted his first criminal pardon. Absolved was ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, whom voters tagged “a bigot with a badge” in ousting him from office last November. In July of this year, a federal judge convicted Mr. Arpaio for violating a 2013 court order to end his practice of targeting brown-skinned people for arrest and detention on suspicion of their having sneaked across the Mexican border into his jurisdiction.
From the August 26 issue of “Current Affairs,” a magazine of American politics and culture: “Joe Arpaio’s actions over the course of his time in office were monstrous and sickening. As Arpaio’s officers were harassing, detaining, and beating citizens and non-citizens alike, with jail employees routinely calling inmates ‘wetbacks’ or leaving them to die on the floor, Arpaio let hundreds of serious sexual abuse cases go uninvestigated, in one case resulting in a child being continually raped. …Some of Arpaio’s acts bordered on the psychopathic: In a deranged reëlection plot, Arpaio oversaw a scheme to pay someone to attempt to assassinate him…so that he could entrap the fake ‘assassin’ and send him to prison.”
- On September 5, a vindictive Mr. Trump shot back at his nemesis, Mr. Obama, by rescinding the former president’s merciful executive order of 2012—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA. Unless the Congress, controlled by Mr. Trump’s Republican comrades, formalizes DACA into federal law within the next six months, some 800,000 young men and women, overwhelmingly of Mexican heritage, could be deported solely because their émigré parents brought them to the U.S. as boys and girls of an average age of six. The life success stories of the so-called DACA “dreamers”—who must submit to rigid qualifications en route to gaining citizenship status—are impressive, according to a study by the University of California at San Diego: 92 percent pursued or are pursuing high school and university educations; 76 percent are employed; 57 percent earn salaries or wages that improve their families’ well-being; prior to DACA application, and to this day, not one of the 800,000 dreamers has committed even the mildest of crimes.
Even Donald Trump could sense in advance the negative reaction to this particular indecency. Thus, he was not man enough to personally announce the DACA rescission. To face the press, he instead he sent forth Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, whose first and middle names are homage to prominent slave-masters of the old-timey South who launched the American Civil War (1861-65), which remains the nation’s bloodiest.
Sure enough—as with public backlash over the Joe Arpaio pardon, judgment on the DACA rescission was swift and stinging. Barack Obama led off in calling it “cruel,” adding: “To target these young people is wrong—because they have done nothing wrong.” Harshest of all was a statement from Steven Goldstein, executive director of New York-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect:
Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions put a grenade in the hands of the Statue of Liberty…Sessions, himself with a racist past, was the perfect person to deliver today’s grotesque announcement of human cruelty and unconscionable prejudice. … Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions will go down in history as among America’s all-time civil rights and human rights villains. And the sick part is, they just don’t care.
To no one’s surprise, Mr. Trump has not seen fit to apologize—for anything. Nor has he ever forthrightly asked God’s forgiveness, despite his professing to be a devoted fan of Jesus Christ. John Calvin “Cal” Thomas, the syndicated newspaper columnist and religious scholar, suggests that this evident lack of humility is antithetical to Christianity, which holds repentance to be a precondition to salvation.
Short of repentance, Mr. Trump told delegates to the Christian-infused Family Leadership Summit in July 2015 that he takes Holy Communion, which he described as “[w]hen I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and have my little cracker; I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness.” Though he lived in the 19th Century, English poet and novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) understood such a character as Donald John Trump. From Chapter 35 of “Vanity Fair,” his masterpiece, Mr. Thackeray presaged an insolent American presidency that soon, we pray might soon see him given warm welcome by Beelzebub:
He firmly believed that everything he did was right, that he ought on all occasions to have his own way—and like the sting of a wasp or serpent his hatred rushed out, armed and poisonous against anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred as of everything else. Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world.
Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag