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The fish rots from the head down: Trump and his voters



A Mr. Jack Hamilton, from Silverdale, Washington, wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal the other day that is so miasmic, so lacking in self-understanding, that I just have to reply.

Hamilton’s letter is about a column by the redoubtable Peggy Noonan—a sarcastic right winger who worked for Reagan and the first Bush—who now writes for the Journal. Noonan’s piece, entitled What to Tell Your Children About Trump,” blamed “mainstream, legacy media” for the disharmony between red and blue voters following the Nov. 8 election. In short, she accuses the media of inexcusable hostility to Trump. (Of course, Noonan would never include the W.S.J., her employer, as part of that “mainstream, legacy media.”)

Hamilton chose to differ from Noonan’s analysis. Here’s his letter in full:

Peggy Noonan asks a good question but identifies the wrong villain. If a five- or six-year old is fearful and crying over a Trump presidency, look to the parents and teachers who told him or her the stories about the “evil person.” Last time I checked, little children weren’t reading newspapers or watching CNN or MSNBC to keep current with world events. Those who stand so firmly on safe space and microaggression avoidance apparently didn’t consider the unintended consequences of spreading the lies to their children. Perhaps the progressive “village” raising the kids didn’t so such a good job. Let those who created the problem take the first steps to fix it.

Before I proceed to demolish this allegation, let me first point out Hamilton’s bitchy, misogynistic reference to Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village.” Let no occasion pass in which Hillary shall not be insulted, seems to be the right’s motto. Anyhow, onward with our semiotics!

That “five- and six-year olds” are fearful of Trump has been widely and accurately reported. Hamilton is probably correct when he blames their “parents and teachers” for this phenomenon, although not for the reasons he thinks. After all, we expect parents and teachers to instruct little children in the ways of the world. Why Hamilton should suddenly have a problem with adult guidance of children is curious. But in his muddled way, he then forgets “parents and teachers” and goes on to attack “CNN and MSNBC” !! Who is it Hamilton has a problem with, anyhow? Democratic parents and teachers, or CNN and MSNBC? Apparently he has problems with everyone and everything except Trump, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

But you, smart reader, have by now probably discerned Hamilton’s biggest, most egregious falsehood, and it does indeed have to do with precisely those media outlets—Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the tea party cabal—from which Hamilton appears to get all his information.

Hamilton, you blame CNN, MSNBC and unnamed “parents and teachers” for frightening little kids by telling them about things Trump has actually said and threatened to do. And yet you seem unconscious of the fears, lies, resentments and murderous impulses your rightwing media has stoked against Democrats for decades, among credulous white people like you.

These rightwing media decided in the early 1990s to destroy the Clintons. Upon the rise of Barack Obama they conspired to destroy him, too. They have characterized liberals as terrorists, as fools, as unpatriotic, as elitist, as dismissive of the working class, as a hate group, as atheists, as everything hateful. These lies, as well as those of Trump himself—endlessly repeated in Republican households where little children heard and believed them—have been attested to countless times, for instance here, in my blog, where I list dozens of Trump’s falsehoods. (And here’s another link, to the New York Times, listing others.)

Little children—the same five- and six-year olds you claim to be so concerned about, Hamilton—have heard their parents, their teachers and, yes, their preachers say Hillary Clinton is evil, a cheater, “crooked,” a bitch, the incarnation of evil, not a true Christian, who should be thrown in jail and possibly killed. They have heard that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, that he is not an American, that he “pals around with terrorists,” that he wants to let Muslim killers into our neighborhoods, that he loves letting “Mexican rapists and criminals” swarm into America, that he has sold out America to Iran, that he is the worst President ever. I could go on and on and on, but surely, Hamilton, somewhere down inside you, buried beneath all your resentments, there lies the knowledge that your side—the right—is at least as propagandistic as you accuse the left of being.

Which is why I say your letter is so lacking in self-understanding. The thing that Democrats really resent about this election isn’t that Trump won, it’s how he won: through the dirtiest, most mendacious campaign in the history of the United States. It was based on his complete disregard of the truth—knowing full well that people like you, Hamilton, don’t care about truth, only about getting somebody as angry and boorish as you into the White House. So when you talk about “spreading the lies to children,” take out the beam from thine own eye, Hamilton, and tell me if you ever repeated any of these falsehoods to your own children or grandchildren (assuming you have any). Did you tell them “thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey following the Sept. 11 attacks”? Did you tell them “thousands of Americans have been killed by illegal immigrants”? Did you tell them that Trump never sexually harassed women and that allegations that he did are lies spread by Democrats? Did you tell them that Hillary Clinton arranged to have Vince Foster killed? Did you tell them that “millions” of people who voted in the recent election were illegals? In short, did you ever inject that venom into your kids’ mental bloodstream? If you did, then you’ve done exactly the very thing you’re accusing “liberals” of doing.

You see, Hamilton, your letter is so feloniously dishonest that you must be either disingenuous or deliberately lying. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I will assume the former: that you are simply incapable of being objectively fair even when the truth is smacking you in the face.

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