Trump: Assassination of Open Dissent and Free Speech in America
I have never maintained any kindred regard whatsoever for Donald Trump. My personal conviction notwithstanding, that those who make their living in real estate are inherently disingenuous perpetuators of values that work against the best interests of humanity, ‘The Donald’ as egocentric pop-culture self-promotor has always left me cold and vaguely repulsed. In fact, it used to suit me quite perfectly to believe that Trump was the tacky, declasse personification of all that is trashy, opportunistic and cheaply sensational about our present American culture.
Thus, when I heard that Trump had declared himself a presidential candidate for the 2016 election, my initial reaction was one of appalled disgust and mild disbelief. The practical effect for me was as if Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Lady Gaga and the entire Kardashian clan had suddenly declared themselves converts to a radical extremist Islamic cult. I was consumed with smug, self-righteous conviction that America had finally come totally unhinged and was about to spin off the planet in chaotic cultural disarray.
Shortly thereafter, Trump began to make various public statements in his characteristically outspoken manner, one of the most notorious being the assertion that illegal Mexican immigrants who were flooding across the borders were ‘…criminals, rapists, thugs…oh yes, and a few who were good people.’
Next, came an attack on Senator John McCain, in which Trump stated that ‘McCain is not a war hero; McCain was captured (a POW). I like people who weren’t captured. ‘
SHAZAM! It was as if the entire Leftist Liberal Media had risen up simultaneously in uniform paroxysms of outrage! The evening news dedicated considerable coverage not just to criticisms of what the media perceived to be inarguably shameful slander against an enshrined hero of the Vietnam conflict, but to the predictably disdainful responses of Trump’s fellow Republican presidential candidates. How DARE Trump drag Senator John McCain off his pedestal of enshrined patriotic glory with this cheap insinuation? It became a palpable contest between the three major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) to see who could cast the most damning aspersions against Trump for his unmitigated temerity. All those glammed-up female news anchors could be seen almost bursting with indignant emotion as they reported on Trump’s latest outbursts.
That caught my attention. Suddenly I realised that I had dismissed Donald Trump as a credible person prematurely. Certainly there’s no arguing that Trump’s statements were poorly framed, badly timed and perhaps could have been phrased better, but it dawned on me that for once in a presidential election someone was telling it like it is! Trump had dared to say what no one else could, constrained as most are by the strait jacketed doctrine of political correctness that demands no one need be offended by a reality they find personally uncomfortable and inconveniently awkward. This WAS refreshing!
Soon the polls started to reflect a rise in Trump’s standing, across the nation. His candidacy now led that of the other Republican candidates by a noteworthy margin, despite the virtual consensus of Republicans that Trump was completely out of line with his ill-considered assertions. Apparently this was something new in American politics: a candidate for national office who was totally unafraid of PC wisdom and who, having his own substantial personal wealth to support his campaign, had little to fear from those anal retentive critics who professed such umbrage over his daring candor.
Regardless of whether Trump was right or wrong in his expressed opinions about immigration issues and/or other ‘sacred cow’ topics (such as Senator McCain), as the antithesis of all that passes for left-of-center liberalism on our contemporary political scene, Trump had managed to reach out to the hundreds of thousands (perhaps even millions) of severely disaffected American citizens who have all but given up on any hope for intelligent, rational and open discussion of the many serious problems we Americans face today. In mercilessly cutting through the political correctness bullshit that holds America hostage and sticking verbal bamboo slivers into the collective quick of our social awareness, Trump appears to have given those many, many individuals who have all but written off the possibility of free and open discussion of ideas in our present society new hope. For many it has come like a breath of fresh air in a virtual room full of stale, fetid halitosis.
All of this strikes me, after some reflection on it, as having astounding relevance to what has been called the ‘silencing’ of free discussion and open colloquy in America, and the vehement, almost violent effort the liberal left has mounted to discredit conservative right-wing opponents. It would be most germane, I believe, to take a few moments to examine how these factors have worked together to threaten one of our most venerable American institutions: free and democratic speech.
In his excellent book, ‘Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change’, conservative writer Jonah Goldberg advances arguments that free speech in modern America has been severely compromised by insidious machinations of the liberal left. The main thesis of Goldberg is that, stretching back to the leftist liberal progressive moment of the early 1900s, institutionalised left wing dogma has gradually embraced and taken on an almost fascistic persona in its efforts to promote the universality of the liberal agenda. At first, such a statement might provoke a blatant rejection of a concept so utterly alien to mainstream definitions as to be near-nonsensical. After all, how could ideas and attitudes so traditionally and totally dedicated to all that is the antithesis of ‘classical fascism’ be misconstrued as fascistic themselves?
The answer lies in the fact that over time definitions of political definition and doctrinal substance have subtly morphed, thanks not in small part to the fact that the uniquely Soviet form of Marxism (embraced by the Soviet Union) triumphed unequivocally over its mortal foe, German National Socialism, in the mid-1940s.
Consider if you will the progressive wing of leftist liberal sentiment that first emerged in the political philosophy of Woodrow Wilson, back at the turn of the century. Dedicated to the precept of establishing a universally humane utopia and promoting social welfare over all other considerations, ‘Progressivism’ would later be reflected, amplified, augmented and substantially advanced in the administrations of US Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt. Aided by convenient symbiosis with other ‘rationalistic’ theories and new philosophies that arose in the 19th century (such as Darwinism and Malthusian theory), progressive sentiments at various times aligned themselves with more classically socialistic elements with the result that they held that the greater comprehensive good of society took precedence over more individualistically centered schools of thought in the formulation of social doctrine and its associated sociopolitical infrastructure within the United States.
As a nation committed to protect and guarantee the individual rights of citizens, America has a hoary tradition of placing those rights higher in our esteemed regard than the collective rights of those individuals who comprise our society as a whole. Over time, saddled as we are with a (presently) severely dysfunctional two party political system, the left has come to take on a far more socialistic persona, while the American right has traditionally remained a party for social conservatives.
While the right has been characteristically viewed as being more rigidly conservative, that is, dedicated to preserving the class and wealth status quo of the more privileged upper classes, the left has assumed the aegis of being the humanely prompted & motivated protector of the interests of the American masses.
In the 1950s, with the expansion of Soviet Communism, politically spiritual links with European socialistic schools of thought (read: Soviet Communism’s interpretation of Marxist doctrinal precepts) developed that took full advantage of Soviet Communism’s preferred tactic of distorting truth however necessary to suit the convenience and needs of the leftist agenda.This would have a profound effect upon subsequent efforts to portray reality within a given political context.
During the war (WW2), but in fact during all modern wars, absolute truth has become more and more a victim of distorted partisan emotion, in that it has become accepted practice for just about any political state to alter reality in any manner seen as convenient to promoting its centralised proprietary aims. While this dynamic has been uniformly utilized by all antagonist nations & states (and their political parties) through their political propaganda efforts, the trend has become so accepted that today 'absolute truth' is virtually non-existent. Certainly Third Reich Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels embraced this outlook enthusiastically in his efforts to promote German National Socialism, but so did Josef Stalin (and to a large extent all others involved in the war, including the French, the English, the Japanese and yes, even us Americans).
After the war ended, with America’s economy emerging almost entirely intact and booming from its war footing, the incorporation of sophisticated new marketing and advertising techniques into American commercial capitalism helped further distort the already blurry lines separating ‘reality’ from sheer fantasy (and in fact the entire nature of American marketing/advertising today depends utterly upon being able to exploit the 'never-never' element of fantasy to hard-sell consumer goods and other materialistic items). The entertainment industry that is Hollywood goes so far as to institutionalise fantasy as its entire core raison d’etre, and its role in helping aid and enable the use of fantasy as a reality-substitute in contemporary American commercial marketing culture is more than signal.
Due to American preoccupation with the threat of Soviet Communism in the 50s & 60s, the liberal left found that it had to take expedient steps to distance itself from Marxist political philosophy, but despite doing so, an increasing tendency to conveniently subject truth to a very definite & subjective process of formative massage coinmcidentally continued at a time when the first major civil rights events of the post-war period began to shake the White Anglo Saxon American establishment to its core.
Political correctness, soon to emerge as a predominant force in regulating all social interactions within the nation, was more or less born during this period, gaining slowly but steadily over the subsequent decades to eventually assume its present role as one of the most powerful tools (weapons, perhaps?) that the descendants of progressive leftist liberals have in their quiver.
Concurrently throughout this period, a growing conviction among leftist liberals gained ascendance, namely an overweening and unshakeable belief in the self-righteous rectitude of the leftist cause. So strong has this grossly arrogant and smugly sanctimonious belief in the left’s perceived ‘mission’ become that virtually anything is considered fair in its effort to get the liberal message across. ‘Anything’, unfortunately, encompasses & embraces a whole range of tactics that stretch from subtle misrepresentations of truth to the opposite spectral pole of sheer, outright lying & duplicitous, deliberate deceit.
Author Kristen Powers, in her excellent book: ‘The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech’ (2015), continues the colloquy started by Jonah Goldberg by illustrating the tactics employed by leftist liberals to staunch any and all dissent (or discussion) that contradicts established leftist dogma. One of the favorite plays in the leftist gamebook is to delegitimize not just the arguments advanced by opponents, but the very character of those individuals. This is typically achieved through slander, false accusations, but above all through insinuation that the opponent is somehow racially or religiously biased.
In the same manner that the mere accusation of alleged wrong-doing permanently damages the credibility of an individual in the ‘court of public opinion’, just the mention of the word ‘racist’ (or ‘anti-Semite’, which is another favorite repressive term) in association with someone is usually enough to bring any possibility of an open discussion or free exchange on a related subject to a complete halt.
By example, suppose that someone is commenting on the recent spate of Black deaths at the hands of policemen. The argument is advanced that ‘profiling’ makes sense in a certain manner, because that’s an instinctual survival mechanism inherent in all human beings. We all engage in profiling every day in our own lives, sizing up others in terms of their possible desirability, threat, intent, attraction, etc., etc. Further, it might be argued, since the overwhelming majority of violent crimes are committed by Blacks & Hispanics, profiling does make sense both on a survival level and a statistical one.
The very minute such arguments are made, the leftist liberal might make the accusation that the individual who made these comments is a racist. The mere use of that word, in an atmosphere dominated by 'political correctness’, effectively delegitimizes ANYTHING that person has already said or might say. It has the functional effect of someone sticking his fingers in his ears, shutting his eyes and saying: ‘La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! I can't hear you!’
Another example relating to discussions about Judaism, or perhaps the deleterious association (in terms of the Arab cause, at least) the United States has with the State of Israel. Anyone who has the temerity to criticize the actions of various stronlyg pro-Israeli factions in connection with their lobbying efforts to influence US foreign policy is thereupon immediately dismissed as a rabid anti-Semite (or perhaps ‘a Nazi’, an even more effective form of end-game aspersive slander).
In both examples, all possibility of a free exchange of opinions and/or open colloquy ceases as soon as this accusation (‘racist’ or ‘anti-Semite’) has been made. The left has thereby succeeded in effectively shutting down the conversation by delegitimizing it as effectively as if had never existed. At that point it no longer matters if there were any truly cogent or wisely considered ideas advanced, since the speaker against whom these accusations have been hurled has been cut off at the figurative knees and obliterated.
In other cases, simple slander (defamation of character) is equally effective as a weapon to close down open discussion and it is often the case that wildly personal assertions attacking the moral character and integrity of an individual suffice to achieve the same result.
As PC racial antipathies continue to complicate discussions involving race relations in America, the unspoken code of political correctness continues to exert deadly force against anyone who dares to raise an argument to the contrary of whatever issue holds the doctrinal favor of the liberal left. Thus when Donald Trump dares to state the obvious (that illegal immigrants pose a threat to the stability of American society in more than just criminal terms and that we need to do what every other nation in the world already does: seal off and establish absolute control over our national borders), he is attacked as both a racist and a bigot, the use of both terms of which effectively and fully delegitimizes any cogency that may lie within his remarks.
With regard to Trump’s admittedly rather unfortunate and ill-considered remarks about Senator John McCain that “…he is no hero; becoming a POW made him a hero”, etc., etc., modern politically correct sentiment that holds that all US servicemen are ‘Heroes’ (the term ‘Hero’, by the way, is so abused and bastardised today in America that it has just about lost all meaning whatsoever) simply by virtue of their having served makes Trump out to be a cad (effectively ‘un-American’). The fact that John McCain has settled comfortably into his role of national hero, basking in constant public adulation for his ‘heroic’ POW experiences, makes such assertions almost heretical, yet the validity of Trump’s point, while poorly expressed and ill-thought-through, is completely lost in the emotionally heated uproar that the insinuation he is grossly disrespectful has created. Another effective victory for the politically correct leftist liberal fascists.
I did not frame these arguments to convey the impression that Donald Trump is truly presidential material. Plainly he is not, since the presidency requires almost inhuman strengths & virtues if it is to be effectively occupied & the nation appropriately served. However, Trump emerges through it all as something that has almost become extinct in present day America: a plain-spoken, daringly candid shooter-from-the-hip who dares to discuss things without worrying whether or not his semantic personal deodorant has somehow failed in the process.
In daring to be brutally blunt, not pull any rhetorical punches and square off against issues that everyone else is scared silly by even the thought of, Donald Trump has gotten my attention…and I suspect the attention of thousands of others who have felt, up until now, that freedom of speech and open exchange of opinions and outlooks have become extinct qualities in a nation that once regarded freedom of speech as the basic legitimising and vindicating process that underlies our most basic American rights.