From the last Morning Jolt of this Thanksgiving Week:
New Kasich Web Video: Donald Trump Is Pretty Much a Nazi, Right?
Yeesh. John Kasich’s campaign takes its biggest shot at Donald Trump, featuring a former U.S. prisoner of war, Ret. Col. Thomas Moe, adapting a famous quote about the Nazis, and applying it to Trump.
“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims should register with their government, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s okay to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you. And you better hope there’s someone left to help you.”
Pastor Martin Niemoller’s poem has many variations, but the most famous one is this:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
See what you’ve done, Governor Kasich? Now you’ve got me, Trump hater extraordinaire, forced to defend Trump from charges of crypto-Nazism.
We still don’t know whether Donald Trump really wants Muslims to register with the government. He’s never directly proposed it. He’s given a half-distracted, loosely-worded affirmative answer to a reporter when it was first brought up by the reporter. Every time he’s asked since, he gives an answer about Syrian refugees. Chances are this is a deliberate strategy. When the media writes denunciatory headlines about his comments, Trump wins over the support of the Americans who think a national registry of Muslims would be a good idea. But he also has plausible deniability, as he’s never actually proposed it or explicitly said he supported it.
Mr. Moe himself engages in frustrating verbal slipperiness, claiming Trump says he’s “going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants” when he’s done nothing of the sort. He’s proposed rounding up illegal immigrants of every race, creed and color. We deport illegal immigrants every year and deported roughly 400,000 in 2012 – a policy that is Constitutional, legal, and morally justifiable. Trump is proposing an expansion of existing law – nothing Nazi-ish about that.
Moe charges, “Donald Trump says it’s okay to rough up black protesters.” Here’s Trump’s comment:
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel on Sunday morning. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble.”
Moe is most accurate here; the crowd reacted thuggishly to the protester, piling on and throwing punches. Ideally, when somebody starts heckling a speaker and creating a disturbance, event security will quickly and firmly remove him. Unfortunately, #BlackLivesMatter protesters who attempt to use the heckler’s veto don’t make for particularly sympathetic figures. But does anyone think the crowd would have listened politely to a white heckler or protester? Moe unfairly attributes a racist hatred to the motivations of Trump and the protesters.
“Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists.” I presume Moe is referring to this:
Lewandowski threatened to pull the press credentials of a CNN reporter, Noah Gray, last week after Gray sought to leave the press pen during a Trump campaign appearance in Worcester, Mass. Gray, an “embed” for the network who has covered Trump for months, recorded Lewandowski’s threat to “blacklist” him and posted it online.
Reporters clashed again with Lewandowski and Trump press secretary Hope Hicks on Friday at an event in Spartanburg, S.C. When the journalists tried to interview voters before Trump’s speech, they were ordered to return to the press pen, under threat of losing their credentials. They later defied an order by Hicks to remain in the press area, a small area bordered by bicycle rack-like barriers, while Trump greeted supporters on a rope line afterward.
Limiting press access to crowds of supporters is bad policy, but hardly fascistic – or if it is, I recall attending George W. Bush events in 2000 and Hillary Clinton events in 2007 that similarly limited press access to a small, cordoned-off area, away from the crowds of supporters. The Clinton Global Initiative follows reporters into the bathrooms and waits outside the stall to make sure they don’t sneak off.
We can argue about whether Trump and his style is good for American politics, but it’s not like he’s appearing ex nihilio, out of nothing. If you fear the country is sliding into a fascistic direction, cast your gaze wider. We’ve seen our government jail filmmakers after blaming terrorist attacks on him; one party push for a Constitutional limit on political speech around elections; an NSA metadata collection program that ignores the Fourth Amendment; political targeting from the IRS; promotion of the elimination of due process on college campuses, and now, the promotion of eliminating the Constitutional rights of Americans on “terror watch lists” — lists that have no judicial review, no appeal, little sense of how an American ends up on it and even less idea of how to get off it if you’re wrongfully accused. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, after touting the U.S. military, Obama declared, “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach.” Inspiring as that may sound at first glance, the country as a whole is not a military unit, obeying orders from their commanders. New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman publicly wishes that we could be “China for a day” so our leaders could “authorize the right solutions.” If you really fear the leader of an angry mob roughing up reporters, suppressing all dissent, and making far-reaching, unrealistic demands that their ideology rule everywhere… don’t look to a Trump rally. Look to a college campus.
Wait, who wants to suppress journalists again?