In an ideal world, we can respect each other no matter our background or political opinions. However, intellectuals and activists are venturing into dangerous territory: demonizing Donald Trump to extreme degrees and calling for his supporters to be “held responsible.”
The uncertainty surrounding the presidential election sparked concerning discussions across the internet. Intellectuals have openly come out to say that some of the most reprehensible and monstrous individuals in history, such as Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, are actually not as bad as Donald Trump. At the same time, politicians and influencers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are calling for Trump's supporters to be held “responsible for their behavior over [the] last four years.”
These sentiments are dangerous and legitimize the conclusion that conservatives — or even non-liberal, non-Leftist individuals — should face some kind of consequences for supporting or voting for a politician who’s allegedly worse than Hitler and Bin Laden.
Intellectuals Aren’t Just Criticizing Trump, They’re Demonizing Him
Dr. Bandy Xenobia Lee, an American author and psychiatrist, has said in a since-deleted tweet that “Trump is not an Adolf Hitler. At least Hitler improved the daily life of his followers, had discipline, and required more of himself to gain the respect of his followers.”
“Trump is not an Adolf Hitler. At least Hitler improved the daily life of his followers.”
Famous author, neuroscientist, and philosopher Sam Harris said on his podcast, “Making Sense,” episode #233, "The things that actually make Hitler worse [than Trump], are actually virtues. Like courage. And a commitment to something beyond yourself." This seems to piggyback off the sentiment that Dr. Lee expressed in her tweet from November 2.
In the same podcast, Harris says, "Osama Bin Laden is, as a person, far more understandable to me, and far less reprehensible, psychologically, than Trump."
Harris’s point isn't to glorify either Hitler or Bin Laden — prior to his quote on Hitler, he does say that Hitler is objectively worse. But he lauds Hitler’s character and then says in order for Trump to be an effective dictator, he would need to be more virtuous. He makes no mention of the monstrosities committed in the name of the Nazi ideology. He briefly mentions his critique of Jihadism and the damage done by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but the discussion is centered on how evil Trump is.
"Osama Bin Laden is...far more understandable to me, and far less reprehensible, psychologically, than Trump."
Does any amount of context make these claims less alarming? The focus is all on Trump, whether it be his incompetence or his lack of virtues, or a combination of both. The discussion escalates to comparing him to two of the most objectively evil, reprehensible, and monstrous individuals in history — and having both of them come out better than Trump.
Trump Isn’t Perfect, but Is He Really Worse Than Bin Laden and Hitler?
Of course, Trump is deserving of some criticism. But is he truly worse than Bin Laden or Hitler? Has he truly caused as much damage, pain, and death as they have?
Trump’s words have been misconstrued by the media since before he even became president. Vox claimed he “bashed several of America's economic partners, most notably Mexico, China, and Japan” in his 2016 campaign video, but in a video of the speech, he doesn’t actually attack those countries on the basis of race, ethnicity, or culture. He points out that jobs that were previously American have been exported to those countries, and one of his goals as president was to bring those jobs back, to benefit the American people.
Trump has denounced white supremacy many times, yet people claim it’s not enough.
Some misconstructions were even perpetuated by presidential candidate Joe Biden, whose 2020 campaign video claimed that Donald Trump said, in regard to the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, that “there were very fine people on both sides.” The actual phrasing made by the president doesn’t imply that he believes Neo-Nazis are part of the “fine people on both sides.” The president, in his full statement, said that the Neo-Nazis and white nationalists “should be condemned, totally.”
Trump has denounced white supremacy many times, and in spite of this, people claim it’s not enough or that he’s still a white supremacist. Despite any clarification, debunking, or presentation of complete context, Trump is deemed a bigot. No matter what Donald Trump says or does, he can’t be redeemed in the eyes of the media or pundits. He’s evil, incapable of changing. A “dictator” that must be stopped. And if he’s a “dictator” that must be stopped, what about his supporters? Or even those who are apolitical and don’t actively stand against him?
There Are No Restrictions on Who Gets Attacked
Amy Berg, an American filmmaker, wrote a tweet last month, saying “One has to go”, referring to a photo set featuring Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Chris Pine, and Chris Evans. The response tweets were largely voting for Pratt, with their reasons being a number of things, some of which are largely unfounded and some are based on his perceived conservatism.
People claimed he’s a Trump supporter (some with no reasoning, others said it’s because he hasn’t openly endorsed Biden), a white supremacist, a “super evangelical” (the article cited in this claim displays a timeline detailing Pratt’s “evangelical” actions, many of which seem to simply be displays of his personal faith), and because he’s been accused of supporting an anti-LGBTQ+ church.
Several of his Avengers castmates came out to defend him, including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana. Upon defending Pratt, Saldana was subject to a barrage of tweets addressing her with racial slurs.
Upon defending Chris Pratt, Saldana was subject to a barrage of tweets addressing her with racial slurs.
It’s not just limited to celebrities being harassed for not being open about their disdain for Donald Trump. Aaron Danielson was killed by an Antifa activist last August. Prior to being shot, it’s not clear what his attackers say, but it sounds like “I’ve got a Trumper right here.”
Veteran Lee Keltner was shot and killed at a Patriot Rally in Denver by an unlicensed security guard. While footage of the incident shows an altercation between Keltner and counter-protesters, he doesn’t exhibit a show of lethal force, and he’s shot by the security guard who wasn’t even in the altercation with him.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a pronounced conservative or politically ambiguous. If you don’t stand with the mob, against the alleged fascism or racism embodied in Donald Trump, they’ll attack you too. If you don’t overtly stand beside them, then they dehumanize you and call you a monster.
Politicians Propose Keeping Track of Trump Supporters and Vouch for “Truth and Reconciliation” Commissions
On November 6, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:
What exactly does “holding them responsible” entail to Ocasio-Cortez? It’s highly reminiscent of the denazification efforts that followed the victory of the Allied powers in WWII. And it’s worth asking, does it seem like those efforts were fruitful? Germany outlawed the Nazi symbols and the practicing of the ideology, but Nazism remains, and in some places, it’s strong.
“We need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
The idea behind the Trump Accountability Project aligns with Ocasio-Cortez’s ideas. It’s a site seemingly established a few days ago (since its respective Twitter page was created in November of this year). According to the landing page, the site aims to be “a permanent record of: those who elected him, those who staffed his government, those who served him, those who funded him, those who supported him” and “those who represented him.” At the time of writing, the site can’t be fully accessed, so its validity is questionable. Additionally, it’s not clear if the site is related directly to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet.
Whether the site is valid or not, people seem to agree to want to correct the opinions of those who supported or agreed with Trump. Former Secretary of Labor and Berkley professor Robert Reich tweeted on October 17:
Over the last few months, we’ve seen increased violence towards individuals, both conservatives and those not-obviously so, at the hands of BLM protesters and Left-leaning individuals who decry Donald Trump, yet we’ve heard no outcry from mainstream news media sources.
If Trump truly is a horrible dictator, it follows that he should be stopped, and what does that mean for people who supported him or even just voted for him? We’re venturing into territory where the justification for harming or attacking non-Trump-decriers is a logical next step. With calls for “truth and reconciliation” and “healing the nation,” it seems more and more that those calling for this are just calling for them to acquiesce or comply — whether willingly or by force.
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