TRUMPISM—A REVERSION TO PAST HORRORS
All it took was Orlando, America’s worst possible event, to bring out the vile calumny from the scariest man of our time. A man who would “take us back,” all right, but not to historical moments that any sane person would welcome.
One of those times I happen to remember well.
World War II was well underway (and I was about 14), when two elderly Japanese couples appeared in our Denver home. I recall how little Mom said about them, and how they never spoke, and how ghost-like they seemed when they wandered our house, so quiet we barely felt their presence. I remember being mesmerized by the way they sat in our kitchen sucking in rice, magically causing it to rise from rice pot to mouth as though on a conveyor belt. Eventually Mom got around to explaining that she’d rescued these couples so they’d never have to go to the nearby internment camps. It was the kind of thing Mom did, with little or no explanation to anyone, including my brother or me. For this alone I will always be grateful that she was, at that time, who she was.
For more than half a century America has felt shame that it imprisoned the Japanese within its borders . . . even knowing back then that some 62%s were American citizens.
With enough pressure from people like Trump and yes, Ted Cruz, Americans might be persuaded to “patrol Islamic neighborhoods.” (Here, the imagination falters). Or worse.
When I first read parts of Trump’s speech today, and how he not-so-subtly besmirched Obama, it reminded me of another bygone era, and someone else’s evil words. Finally it came to me: the early Fifties and Senator Joe McCarthy.
McCarthyism, defined by Wikipedia, perfectly describes Trump’s behavior: “Demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.” With sly hints and innuendo, this was Trump blaming our president for the events of Orlando. Even suggesting that Obama “knew more than he’s saying,” that he somehow brought them on.
So Trump wants to take us back to a different world. To the 1940’s, perhaps, with its internment camps for “public enemies?” To Joe McCarthy and his libelous, personal accusations? To the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee, with all the careers and lives they destroyed?
Or does he want to establish his own signature, a personal, “get even” milieu--to inflict on America his distinctive brand of hate, ignorance, and revenge?
Think about it: Trump isn’t “just another bad man.” With the millions of followers he’s generated among Americans, he’s a force to take seriously. Meaning he’s downright dangerous.
For more about those days: My memoir, The Tail on my Mother’s Kite, evokes an era viewed with an equal sense of abandonment, perplexity, and excitement, overlaid by a child’s determination to become a writer.