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Social Commentary

This is the personal commentary of Zebrafish Hindbrain.  It has no affiliation with any university, institution or company.  It is only for vertebrates with active cortical circuitry.

1st Blog: Political Assassination is not a Joking Matter
August 11th, 2016

As a student of Mr. Zebrafish Hindbrain, I stand by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, including our rights to free speech and bear arms.  More importantly, I respect our societal and political institutions and consider them vital to the nation that I should leave for my children.  I confess to being pretty far left on some issues, but I also liked firing M16s, .45s and 91 mm mortars while in the army.  Human complexity is normal and we do our best when we respect other individuals and listen to their viewpoints.  Now, if zfhindbrain loses followers for my sounding this alarm, so be it. But what is not tolerable is for me to watch an unfolding travesty only to say later that "I did nothing".

What we cannot tolerate is the advocacy of political assassination, even if done in jest.  This is especially true when such “suggestions” come from the bully pulpit. Words get people killed every day in this country.  And words at political rallies can get leaders assassinated, as happened to Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 (as recently retold by Lawrence O’Donnell).  Attempted, planned or actual Presidential assassinations are all too common (JFK, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., in my lifetime).  Mental illness conjoined with delusions of self-importance are often behind high-profile murders including JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon or the more recent stabbing of Monica Seles.  Any large political rally (left or right) will include people at the mental fringes, people who go unnoticed until it is too late. 

If this “jest” by Donald Trump was a one-off moment, I would let it pass.  But it is emblematic of a much deeper disdain (contempt even) for our most treasured political processes and societal institutions.  He disparages our media and puts journalists in cages at his events and lauds Vladimir Putin who kills journalists.  He has no respect for congress or the political leaders of his own party.  He has no respect for federal judges and disparages a “Mexican” judge who was actually giving him favorable treatment. Trump also encouraged gun enthusiasts to take out Clinton-appointed Supreme Court justices (this is how the BBC interpreted his recent comment).  He has no respect for our electoral processes, calling both the primary and general election campaigns rigged.  He has no respect for our constitution, neither for Freedom of Religion, nor for our system of checks and balances.  While I disagreed with Bush, McCain and Romney on many issues, all of them were decent individuals who gracefully and honorably respected the legitimate transfer of power.  Has Trump shown the slightest inkling of such dignity?  Lock her Up should not be a campaign rally.  Shouts of Kill the Bitch should not be tolerated, just as John McCain did not tolerate a woman infamously declaring Obama a Muslim.

Donald Trump has no respect for our Military saying he would kill the families of terrorists and order soldiers to violate the Geneva Convention by committing torture.  He says POWs are not heroes because he does not like people who got captured.  He endangers soldiers and citizens alike by feeding into the ISIS rhetoric of the US being in a religious war against them (elevating ISIS’ status).  He endangers our Baltic-state NATO allies by telling Putin he will not defend them, which also endangers US soldier lives by encouraging new Russian incursions.  He says he would ban ALL Muslims from entering the US, unconcerned that many returning US Soldiers are Muslim.  Trump denigrates the parents of a Muslim soldier who died protecting our Constitution and your freedom (even while he avoided the 1969 draft because of bone spurs).  At what point does this become too much?

Nobody is all knowing, but the US will do better with smart, well-informed leaders who know that words have consequences.  How can Trump work with our allies after having (in effect) banned leaders of Muslim countries from entering the US, or after calling Mexicans “rapists” and asserting that the President of Mexico would pay for his great wall?  Trump’s thin skin and temperament give no indication that he will be able to lead this country, having called many women horrible names, mocking a mother with a baby (who was ATTENDING his rally!), mocking a reporter with neuromuscular disease, and suggesting that Cruz’s father was involved with the JFK assassination. I could give Trump the benefit of the doubt for not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shiite, or between Kurds and Quds Forces, or that Russia has already invaded the Ukraine, or the impact of the Brexit, or that US security derives from our nuclear triad and our policy of nuclear non-proliferation.  But, alas, the problems run deeper.

Global ignorance might be acceptable if Trump were a decent human being.
When the European Union was unraveling (#Brexit) and our closest ally saw their British Pound dropping like a rock, Trump stood on his country club in Scotland and laughed that his golf course would make more money the further the pound fell. That was not a generous moment.  If Donald Trump was a decent person, he would apologize to the Khan family and solemnly thank them for their sacrifice.  If a soldier attending my rally had given me his Purple Heart, rather than making a feeble joke about it, I would have brought the soldier up on stage, shook his hand and handed it back to him saying “This purple heart is yours--YOU earned it”.  That would have been the decent thing to do.

As a college professor, I have first-hand knowledge of what an actual university is, and a decent person would not have made millions of dollars by creating a fake, fraudulent university in his own name.  As a South Jersey native, I have first-hand knowledge of Trump casinos cheating small businesses.  My brother’s seafood company allowed casinos to purchase on credit, with one sole exception—those belonging to Donald Trump.  If they wanted clams, they had to pay cash on delivery, because Trump would either stiff them or pay them less than what was owed.  Alas Trump’s standard business practice is to extort more goods and services from small businesses to whom he owes money, as illustrated by the 23 liens on his Doral Country Club resort in Florida. Trump is best understood as a narcissist, con artist.  As Fareed Zakaria recently put it, Donald Trump is not a liar.  A liar tells precise lies within a stream of truths, so that the lie can deceive.  Instead, Trump is a bullshit artist, one of the finest caliber.  A BS artist has no cognizance of what is true or false, he has only a non-stop stream of self-aggrandizing rhetoric and cares not that his claims are provably false, even by his own prior video records.  He is in equal measure BS artist and con-man, with sound bites that sound oh so convincing and plausible, but only if one does NOT peek behind the curtain!

I have no idea what Trump would do if elected President.  But I do know that he is the most divisive candidate since Barry Goldwater.  I do know that he shows no respect for national unity, or for our sacred, societal institutions, or for our rule of law.  I do know that he appears petty, reckless, vindictive, selfish and uninformed.  Perhaps Trump’s campaign started as a joke, but one thing we do know is that Trump values money, attention and power above all else.  In contrast, the bland lady with her email “scandal” and her legalistic answers has generally tried to do good, both before entering the national stage and since then. Although I am perhaps the furthest thing you might find from a Ted Cruz supporter, I will conclude with Ted’s most apropos quote: “vote your conscience”.