President Trump is upsetting, yet let us remember he is nothing different than what we have experienced before. We have had less loutish and buffoonish presidents, but Trump’s lack of eloquence from the podium should not let us forget that the worst thing he has done as President has been to continue President Obama’s mass killing of brown skinned and Muslim people in seven different countries.
What is different from the past is the absence of highly visible principled resistance to Trump, which is not to be confused with the #Resistance that exists for the sake and well being of the Democratic Party and favors outrage over Trump’s words as opposed to his actions. Tellingly, it his actions overseas that make Trump not very different from the war and money interests of the Democrats and it is where the honest and necessary resistance to his killing is most lacking among those who influence policy, media and culture, and the American people.
From today’s entry on Carl Bunin’s Today in Peace and Justice History:
September 19, 1952
“The United States prevented Charlie Chaplin, the British director, actor and producer, from returning to his Hollywood home until he had been investigated by Immigration Services.
He had been on the FBI’s Security Index since 1948, and was one of over 300 people blacklisted by Hollywood film studios.
Chaplin was unable to work after refusing to cooperate during his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Informed that he would not necessarily be welcomed back, he retorted, “I wouldn’t go back there if Jesus Christ were president,” and surrendered his U.S. re-entry permit in Switzerland. ”
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Chaplin has a special place for me as it is his speech from The Great Dictator that I ask all young men and women who are thinking of joining the military to watch.
Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
“Don’t give yourselves to brutes!” Chaplin thunders. It was a mistake I made and it is important we try and keep others from making the same, giving their lives to brutes.
Chaplin was a man who followed his principles, his values and what his life’s experience had taught him were true and meaningful, and he didn’t give in, despite the ridicule, the loss of money and the danger of being unpopular. Trump is a brute who only wants to be liked and will kill thousands and hurt millions more in order to be an idol to his twitter followers and his sychophants on Fox News or in the Wall Street Journal.
After Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly, I saw an expert on CNN, she was a former Obama State Department person and is now at a think tank in Washington, D.C., her reason for being upset with Trump’s remarks were that he hurts American credibility. Not that his policies of violence are vile, destructive and counter-productive, but that his words are not tactful or timed correctly and so American “credibility” is hurt. Nowhere on the mainstream television today or in the decision making circles of Washington, DC is a man or woman like Charlie Chaplin.
Through a discussion over email I recently became aware of a quote by Leslie Gelb, the man who helped write the Pentagon Papers for Robert McNamara, spent decades at the New York Times, ran the Council of Foreign Relations and who is now their President Emeritus.
Gelb explained his support for the Iraq War, and by extension the support of other “experts” in the foreign policy communities for the United States’ decades of organized murder that we call war, this way:
“[his] initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility.”
Oh, for someone like Charlie Chaplin today.