Tuesday, March 29, 2016

At least he didn't say 'Work will make you free."

     "My policy is America first," Donald Trump told Fox News Monday, "and will always be, America first."
     "America first."
     Though anyone in the least bit historically-minded is already cowering in a paroxysm of disbelief, watching this presidential campaign in open-mouthed, Edvard Munch-strength horror, Trump's words have to send a new shiver across our blown-out sensibilities. 
    The America First Committee, the bund of isolationists and Hitler boot lickers that thrived for a year before Pearl Harbor, funded by xenophobes like Robert McCormick, starring sieg-heiling erstwhile hero Charles Lindbergh. It fought to make sure America was as unprepared for war as it could be, under the charmed notion that Herr Hitler and his allies would leave us alone as long as we didn't antagonize them.  Trumpeting safety, it endangered the country, leaving us vulnerable.  
     FDR, whom they loathed, warned them.
     "Let no one imagine that America will escape," he told Chicagoans during a visit in 1937, "that American may expect mercy, that this Western hemisphere won't be attacked."
      This is exactly what Trump et al believe. If we bar immigrants and refugees, we can somehow keep terrorists at bay. It is a theory that imagines all bad things hovering outside our borders. All we have to do is not let them in. When the truth is far more complicated. 
     I can't even insinuate that Trump intended the reference as a dog whistle to his terrified rabble of followers. Even if he weren't ignorant of the past, his supporters certainly are—a chunk of America doesn't even know there was a World War II, never mind sweating the home-front details—and only resent when the obvious parallels between Trump and Hitler are pointed out: the stoking of support based on demonizing already-scorned minorities, the barely suppressed—so far—calls to violence.  
     You really should watch the Fox News clip where Trump says it. They play a snippet of Barack Obama suggesting we should let more refugees in. Then they cut to Trump, who reflexively wildly-exaggerates what Obama has said into talk about "open borders" as if Obama had invited the world in. As if they really don't know that America's current refugee policy is a profile in cowardice. Our country has let a couple thousand Syrian refugees in the past year, while Europe has welcomed millions.  Even if terrorists were among them, pointing to terrorist acts as an argument against immigration is like pointing toward a car wreck as an argument for a 10 mph speed limit.
      Haters see risk in the things they already hate. They can't grasp the risk of America turning its back on its values, on the thing that made us a great nation to begin with, not to mention providing the grease our economy needs to work. They don't see the harm of being a ghetto of white ignorance that feeds the phenomenon in the first place. 
    Perhaps the most galling thing about Trump is that he is not alone. His success is due to his shouting things the GOP has been whispering for years. While Trump is acting as the Harold Hill of haters, high-stepping toward the White House with trombones at full blare, the House of Representatives passed HR 4731 out of committee Monday. The "Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act,"  would reduce and cap our already minuscule refugee admissions, allowing timid state and local governments to opt out of letting any refugees in at all. 
      This isn't "America First." This is "Fear First."


  1. Two thoughts:

    1) Why do liberals spend so much time criticizing Trump NOW? There is plenty of time to do so *after* he cinches the nomination and we can breath a sigh of relief that Cruz is not a presidential threat for at least 4 more years. Why try to sway anyone AWAY from Trump at this point when there is a bigger threat circling the waters, waiting for a chance to attack.

    Trump said something inflammatory? Is that really news anymore? Or are we carrying our dead horse like a war drum and beating glue out of it now?

    2) America should be first, at least when it comes to presidential concerns. When we have innocent people being gunned down by an increasingly militarized domestic police force, our government spying on citizens digitally and continuing economic woes: yes, America first. Secure the mask over your own head before assisting others is not only good airline safety, it is just common sense.

    Our foreign policy is atrocious. We pump billions of dollars into countries which aren't held accountable for those funds, our weapons are now in the hands of terrorists and technologies developed for use on our enemies have now been turned against citizens of the country.

    Where do you see room to put America second in all of this? We're coming to an extreme breaking point if focus doesn't shift inwardly.

  2. 1) Because we don't operate in the calculating manner you seem to think people are capable of operating. That's an unrealistic suggestion, like those who said the media should ignore Trump. 2) But isolationism doesn't put America first -- that was the point of the post, which obviously sailed past you. The billions of dollars we "pump" into foreign aid is a rounding error. We exist in the world. China certainly does. People such as yourself who urge otherwise would put America on the road to ruin. It isn't patriotic. It isn't wise. It's just fear in action. Glad you asked.

    1. It seems to be "common knowledge" that the United States doles out its millions and billions with a free hand, whereas most aid must be used to buy American goods even when that policy undermines native industries and all too much of it goes to armaments that we can only hope won't some day be pointed our way.


  3. Nice video, hilarious, Trump's grandson is named for the man of many mistresses, Ted. That is the quintessential definition of a rebellious daughter, so sad, he's pathetic. Will more people start adopting Trumpisms in their speech patterns? But seriously, there may be one possible positive outcome from a Trump presidency. For the past fifteen years pundits, partisans ones in particular, have been whining, rightly, about the creeping overreach of executive power. Congressman may be more inclined to work together in legislating limits on executive authority that are more in line with The Constitution. Boy am I a dreamer

    1. Bite your tongue for suggesting that any good whatsoever might come from electing Trump. I've lived too many years and seen too many times when the crackpot got elected under the false hope that upsetting the status quo would ultimately restore sanity to the system. It never works. It only leads to disaster, and people get hurt.

    2. Well John, I guess you're probably right. Trump will re-hire Craig Livingstone, who will fill his office with thousands of FBI files. Then he'll start with the torture and rendition of anyone who looks like a usual suspect, with a few if any peeps from Congress. And so it goes, the wake-up call will occur when the Capitol Building is burned to the ground, but then it will be too late. I'll nominate you as the leader of notre groupe de résistance. I'd be willing to hide a few Muslim families in my attic for the interim.

  4. Yes, it's sad when even some college students barely know a WWII let alone WWI and it's players.

  5. Where President Obama is so right,and Trump so wrong, is in asserting that we can't win against Islamic terrorism without the help of American Muslims and robust cooperation with other countries, including such otherwise bad actors as Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. World War II was no different in that respect. Most Americans believe we defeated Germany, but that is, at best, a gross oversimplification. The Russians killed more Germans at Stalingrad alone than we and the Brits did in the campaign to liberate Western Europe. And the the Russians, in turn, might not have won the greatest tank battle of the war, at Kurst, without the aid of intelligence supplied to them by the British.

    That's why Trump's ill-informed comments disparaging international cooperation through NATO and other alliances are particularly disturbing. If "America first" means "America alone" we would face a bleak future under President Trump.

    As far as heeding the lessons of history, it's unlikely that many Trump supporters are well informed about events leading up to the last World War, or much of anything else of consequence for the future. As Marcus Tullius Cicero had it "To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain ever a child." Let's hope we are not in for another children's crusade.

    Tom Evans

  6. We certainly did plenty of bombing in German cities and rightfully so.

  7. From Daily Kos today
    There are a number of statements in Trump’s speech that make a kind of sense.

    My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first. Has to be. …

    America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration. …
    And of course, any American leader would consider the needs of America ahead of other nations. What kind of presidential candidate would not? What kind of candidate would admit it if they didn’t? But there’s a problem here, a detail, particularly when paired with the statement that Trump uses as his immediate follow-up.

    In the 1940s we saved the world. The greatest generation beat back the Nazis and Japanese imperialists.
    His grasp of the details doesn’t extend to the idea that the phrase “America First” calls directly back to the wide use of this slogan in the 1930s, and to the America First Committee, where “America First” was a call for non-intervention in either Europe or Asia. It was a call for nonintervention; to not participate in that world-saving that Trump brags about a paragraph later.

    And while Trump doesn’t get this, people in the rest of the world do. They hear the phrase America First as a call to isolationism. Which… maybe it is. Because there are several other points in Trump’s speech that point right back to Trump being Trump, and to Trump missing a pretty big detail.

    The rest is good too. http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/4/28/1521034/-Trump-First-foreign-policy-from-the-guy-who-grasps-all-the-details?detail=facebook


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