Food for Thought

by Eric Hamilton

Over the past months, I’ve made a lot of jokes in this column…and the jokes didn’t always go over particularly well. I’ve also made a lot of serious statements, some of which angered my readers. Once or twice, I’ve written things that I’ve regretted. However, in the back of my mind, I’ve always felt that I was working my way toward making a very serious request to my readers. And that request is: ‘Please don’t take up arms against your neighbors if Donald Trump asks you to do so.’
I realize that this statement may sound like a joke; at the very least I’m sure that it sounds absurd and paranoid. Yet we are living in absurd times.
Donald Trump is not like the previous forty-four presidents. Even when we look back to presidents who were, in one way or another, a disgrace, we see that they were not like Donald Trump. A good example of this is President Clinton, who floated through his presidency on a river of unethical behavior, had an affair with an intern and then committed perjury to cover up that affair. Yet at no point in his presidency did Clinton say, ‘Kenneth Starr’ (the special prosecutor) ‘is a traitor. And you know what we used to do to traitors, back when we were smart?’ At no point did President Clinton suggest that Newt Gingrich ought to be arrested for treason for investigating him. At no point did President Clinton claim that his impeachment would lead ‘to a civil war-like fracture’ from which the country would never recover.
Over the final days of September, Donald Trump has done all of these things (in all fairness, the statement about civil war was a re-tweet of an unhinged Trump supporter; still, the fact that Trump chose to quote such a statement is just as bad as if he had talked about civil war himself).
Now compare Trump’s threats of today with a statement that he made on March 14 of this year: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be bad, very bad.”
This statement was a threat of violence—the kind of threat made by dictators in ‘third world nations’. ‘Obey me, or I will call on my supporters around the country to rise up and slaughter you,’ is a threat that has been made by many South American, African and Southeast Asian ‘strongmen’, and Trump drew perilously close to making such a threat this March. Now, this fall, he calls his political opponents traitors and implies that they should receive the death penalty (even suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden should get the electric chair). He seems as if he might be a stone’s throw from saying, ‘If you voted for me in 2016 and know of somebody who didn’t, go shoot that traitor.’ Which returns us to my original request to all Trump supporters who may happen to be reading this article:
Please do not feel that you are at war with your fellow Americans, or that they are at war with you—even if Trump tells you that you are at war.
Actually, I don’t think that I need to make this request. Whatever I may think of Donald Trump, I have always believed that the people around here who support him are far better than he is. They recognize that America is both a family and a nation governed by laws. If Trump goes so far as to call for violence, his former supporters will recognize the insanity of calling for civil war, and will ignore any ‘call to arms’.
I don’t believe that there is really going to be violence. On the other hand, as the impeachment inquiry continues, there likely will be a great deal of anger, bitterness and name-calling. Words like ‘traitor’ and ‘enemy of the state’ will likely be used (and maybe not just by Trump). And so I guess what I am really asking my readers to do is to try to set aside all of that bitterness. Pour cool water on the fires of anger and hatred that are presently being stoked. We WILL get past the present crisis, and when we do, there is no need for America to be a heap of ashes.