No one does a take-down better than Charles Pierce. Yesterday he took aim at a discussion on Morning Joe (he calls the hosts “Squint and the Meat Puppet”). Apparently while pontificating about President Obama’s “tepid” response to the events in Paris and San Bernardino, the group engaged in some pearl-clutching about how the President’s response had failed to calm their children’s fears about terrorism. Pierce’s point was that “it is the height of journalistic cowardice to attack the president behind your children.” By way of contrast, he offered this:
Every day, there are kids on the west side of Chicago who go to school with gunfire in the background. There are kids in the Mississippi Delta who go to school hungry, and who are sick with preventable diseases. There are kids in Appalachia who are sick because good dental care is unavailable to them. There are kids in Israel, and on the West Bank, in Somalia, and all over the world who get up every day with actual war being made all around them.
The juxtaposition of the pundit’s “journalistic cowardice” with children who actually suffer from fear and deprivation every day reminded me of a Charles Barkley skit on SNL a few years ago about “White People Problems.” I don’t mean to make light of the pain and suffering felt by the loved ones of those killed and injured in Paris and San Bernardino. But perhaps the hosts and guests on Morning Joe could point out to their children that they are no more likely to be killed by a terrorist than they are to be crushed to death by collapsing furniture.
Seriously, this fear-mongering has gotten out of control.
Kareem Abdul-Jabar captured it all really well.
The terrorist campaign against American ideals is winning. Fear is rampant. Gun sales are soaring. Hate crimes are increasing. Bearded hipsters are being mistaken for Muslims. And 83 percent of voters believe a large-scale terrorist attack is likely here in the near future. Some Americans are now so afraid that they are willing to trade in the sacred beliefs that define America for some vague promises of security from the very people who are spreading the terror. “Go ahead and burn the Constitution — just don’t hurt me at the mall.” That’s how effective this terrorism is.
I’m not talking about ISIS. I’m talking about Donald Trump.
This is not hyperbole. Not a metaphor. Webster defines terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal; the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”
If violence can be an abstraction — and it can; that’s what a threat is — the Trump campaign meets this definition. Thus, Trump is ISIS’s greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian Candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic policies, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS’s job for them.
The only thing I’d add is that it isn’t just Trump. It also comes from other Republican candidates who tell us lies about how the “the world is on fire” and it “has never been a more dangerous place.” And it comes from pundits who wring their hands about a President who hasn’t bought into the fear-mongering enough for their tastes (and ratings).
What we’re witnessing is the collapse of an entire political party that has run out of ideas and is holding on to the last shred of itself by blowing up as much fear as possible. Donald Trump is merely the one lighting the fuse.