Login

Lying and bigotry in the land of Donald Trump

Imagine someone distributing a photo of a child being thrown off a roof with the caption, “Jewish mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death” or another alleging, “Baptist destroys statue of Virgin Mary.”

You would reasonably conclude the distributor of this venom is a bigot.

So how would it be different if the word Muslim was substituted for the word Baptist or Jew? How would singling out members of the world’s second largest religion be any different?

As we learned last week, your president and mine tweeted these anti-Muslim images, plus a third, stating, “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches,” to his 43 million followers.

“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” said British prime minister Theresa May.  

I would add it is not only wrong, it is bigotry.

The videos came to the president by his second favorite news medium, the internet. They were first disseminated by Jayda Hansen, the leader of a far-right white supremacist party known as Britain First.  

Last year, a British court convicted Hansen of verbally abusing a Muslim woman who was wearing a hijab, the head covering with origins similar to the practice that once required women to cover their heads in some Christian churches. She is awaiting trial for distributing racist tracts and posting hate videos during a rape trial and is barred from entering any mosque in the nation.  

The Netherlands government quickly pointed out that the attacker of the boy on crutches was born and raised in the Netherlands and is neither a Muslim nor a migrant. The mob on the roof was rioting after a 2013 coup in Cairo and the person who pushed the boy was hanged for murder in that Muslim nation.  The destroyer of the statue was a Syrian member of Isis, whose destruction of statues representing many religions is far from its worst offense against humanity.   Isis has the support of only a small minority of Muslims, according to the reliable Pew Research Center.

We have no way of knowing if the president was aware the source of these photos was the leader of a notorious British white supremacist organization not unlike the Ku Klux Klan, or if he cared.  His spokeswoman said he didn’t know but disseminated the photos as a public service.  David Duke, the notorious former KKK leader, thanked God for Trump.

The Muslim rants were not the day’s only assaults on truth and decency by the president. After it was announced that “Today” show host Matt Lauer had been fired by NBC News, he asked in a tweet when NBC would fire its executives for putting out fake news and called for someone to “Check out Andy Lack’s past.”  Lack, the NBC News president, has had a long career as an award-winning producer at CBS and CEO of Bloomberg Media Group.  

But Trump was just starting down the libelous road, later asking, “When will they (NBC) terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago?  Investigate!”

The “unsolved mystery” is a lying reference to the death of an employee of then-Congressman Scarborough who fainted in his Florida office and struck her head. An autopsy determined a heart condition caused her to faint and she died of the head injury. End of story, except in the cruel heart of Donald Trump. 

“Trump Suggests Scarborough Killed Intern” was the headline in The New York Post.  

A president who boasts he can grab any woman’s genitals because he’s a star can accuse an opponent of murder because he’s the president. Federal employees are exempted by law from legal claims arising from their official duties and the immunity includes “negligent” or “wrongful” acts.

The president’s tweets, using a relatively new medium to communicate with the public, are therefore as much a part of his legal duties as were Franklin Roosevelt’s use of the relatively new medium of radio to reach his audience with his Fireside Chats.  Apologies to Mr. Roosevelt for the analogy.

But Trump is not immune from legal claims of misconduct prior to his presidency. The accusations of more than a dozen women who say he sexually assaulted them are as valid as those made against a federal office holder like, say, Al Franken.

So why is the president engaged in this bizarre behavior?  Why would he circulate these hate videos? Supporters say the tweets are his unique way of keeping in touch with his supporters.  Others believe he is simply and successfully distracting the public from more significant issues like the Mueller investigation or legislative failures.  

Regardless of his reasons or his supporters’ rationalizations, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are burdened with a president who is a liar and a bigot. 

 

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.