US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been roasted by pundits and mainstream media for saying Donald Trump was “chosen by God” to be president. But those who compare Trump to the pinnacle of evil are equally missing the point.
Perry’s declaration that Trump was “chosen by God” in the same “imperfect” tradition as biblical heavies King David, Saul, and Solomon was met with maximum derision when a clip was aired on Fox & Friends on Sunday. While Perry didn’t single the president out – Barack Obama, too, was said to be “chosen” – the context was scrapped and Perry was pilloried as yet another out-of-touch Trump cultist incapable of seeing the problems with his hero.
Perry certainly wasn’t the first to be ridiculed for speaking religiously of the president. Trump’s own spiritual advisor, Paula White, once declared that “to say no to President Trump would be saying no to God.” Conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root blundered into the mainstream in August when a quote from his show in which he claimed Israeli Jews view Trump as the “king of Israel” and the “second coming of God” made it onto Trump’s Twitter feed. The president has even referred to himself as the Chosen One, claiming after the inevitable backlash that the comment was meant in jest.
These comments have all – understandably – been ridiculed as delusional hero-worship and held up as examples of how out of touch the president’s supporters are. But there’s a much more vocal strain of criticism that depicts Trump as – if not the devil – certainly its earthly incarnation, an embodiment of evil never before seen in the White House. This line of commentary is just as ridiculous, but more dangerous for how seriously it’s taken among those who pass themselves off as thought leaders in the US media.
Once relegated to theological discussions, the word “evil” has become a popular mainstream media descriptor for Trump, though commentators who throw it around remain vague in their rationale as they fail to explain how his moral depravity exceeds that of previous presidents. Racism, sexism, greed, dishonesty, and demagoguery have been the stock in trade of some US politicians since the country was founded, yet prior to the Trump era, the term “evil” was only deployed from the fringes of political commentary or rhetorically (as in “the lesser of two evils“). It’s easy to forget that less than two decades ago, then-president George W. Bush was criticized for using the term “evil” to refer to the 9/11 terror attacks.
Before the Bad Orange Man was even inaugurated, comparisons of candidate Trump to Hitler were ubiquitous, issuing forth from “respected” voices on the Left and Right (or as far as one can get toward Left or Right while still enjoying television airtime). Three years later, the Trump=Hitler equation is so ingrained in most pundits’ minds that merely comparing a person or action to Trump – equating, say, Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign to Trump’s “fake news media is the enemy of the people” – has become an effective smear for shutting down discussion. Rarely is there any pushback, as sticking up for Trump – even by defending a person compared to him – has become as toxic as sticking up for Hitler in some circles.
With Trump semi-officially crowned Prince of Darkness, commentators are left with nowhere to go when they want to emphasize a level of evil above baseline Trump, leading to rhetorical gymnastics that might in a saner era be deemed hysteria. Former Duke University psychiatry chair Allen Frances declared earlier this year that Trump would be responsible for “many millions more deaths” than Hitler, Stalin and Mao. While Frances’ statement raised a few eyebrows, it went unchallenged by host Brian Stelter of CNN – Orange Man Bad central – who more recently brought on cult expert Steve Hassan to warn viewers that Trump was using “mind control” to influence his supporters.
Celebrities – perhaps the least impacted of all Americans by Trump’s screw-the-poor economic policies – are on the front lines comparing him to a whole host of baddies (and showing their ignorance of history in the bargain). Their disconnected doomsaying culminated two months ago in actress Debra Messing proposing a blacklist of sorts to excommunicate Trump supporters from Hollywood’s favored circles – a throwback to the Red Scare, perhaps the last time American politics had become so polarized between “good” and “evil.”
Declaring Trump the most evil politician ever betrays, at the very least, a lack of imagination, and at most, utter disconnection from reality. If three years of screaming that Trump is the devil incarnate have not made any impression on his supporters, commentators might try putting down the bludgeon and using logic and reason to explain how tax breaks for the rich leave America’s dwindling middle class holding the bag. The populist rhetoric that energized flyover country voters ignored by Washington elites for decades may have merely yielded more of the same for the 70 percent of Americans who now consider themselves financially insecure, but invocation of 20th century dictators doesn’t put food on the table, either. Centrist voices trying to lure voters away from Trump must offer them something positive instead of scorning them and their champion as brainwashed cultists. That’s what put Trump in the White House to begin with.
By Helen Buyniski, RT