Public outrage levels on the Internet today are in the red, because Trump said something mean on Twitter again.
In response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (who said that a U.S. war with Iran would be "the mother of all wars" and advised Trump not to "play with the lion's tail), Trump had this to say:
And everyone from CNN commentators to Hollywood celebrities to that girl Ashley who made fun of your clothes in high school is freaking out. This type of threat from the president of the United States is unprecedented, they say. It's a sign of an incompetent leader! Trump is flirting with disaster, yet again! What will our allies think? We are literally moments away from nuclear destruction!
Actually, the message that is so flagrantly out on the surface of Trump's tweet is exactly the same as the underlying messages of most of his predecessors' threats of retaliatory force against belligerent nations and/or terror groups.
The difference is not in what he said, but in the way he said it.
He said it un-diplomatically and without euphemism. Where Trump refers to Iran's "suffering", the more polished figureheads of our past would have used more measured phrasing like "our forces will destroy..." and "you will find no safe haven." In practical terms, they are all saying the same thing: "Fuck with us and you will be decimated by our superior military force."
So what is the real objection? That he tweeted it? Or the actual content of the threat?
If you think this tweet is a sign of Trump's incompetence, then were the other guys who said similar things (albeit much more eloquently) also incompetent leaders?
I asked the social media outrage collective, and the answers I got, over and over, from multiple respondents, basically boiled down to: "Trump sounded cruel and vindictive."
I'll grant that. Sure, he sounds like a comic book supervillain. No doubt about it. Okay...so Trump’s threats sound cruel and vindictive, while his predecessors' threats sounded more measured and diplomatic. An easier pill to swallow, perhaps.
But they’re still all saying the same thing. Trust me, their fellow despots know how to read between the lines.
And that’s not even touching on the actual actions that have been taken by former presidents (and the current one, too) against our "enemies". Economic sanctions in multiple countries that starved millions of non-combatants, drone strikes that killed thousands of people going about their daily lives. Not to mention the worst part: that our government seeded most of these conflicts in the first place through shitty foreign policy, and exacerbated them through multiple successive administrations. Who cares whether the president speaks of blowing people up euphemistically or in a straight-forward fashion? They’re all going to continue blowing people up, and we’re still going to foot the bill, regardless.
It does not matter who sits in the White House.
PSA: our country has now been in a perpetual state of multi-theater war for so long that most of us no longer notice that fact. It is in large part because we are so easy to soothe with euphemism and distract with irrelevant drama that we have allowed this to continue. Trump didn’t start this. He’s just the latest in a long line of sociopathic rulers who have continued and expanded upon it, at least since Bush I.
It just honestly really irks me that so many people become enraged when Trump says something mean, but they couldn’t muster even a mild frustration when his predecessors acted out those same cruelties on innocent people in real life. Most Americans are so easily subdued with pretty words and diplomatic performances.
Trump is probably the best scapegoat ever devised.
He's unlikeable, unattractive, full of bluster, ineloquent, and has zero chill. The left loves to hate him, much of the right has disavowed him, and his support base loves him because he refuses to apologize for being an ass. He brings the dark realities of the state to the surface in a way that makes many people extremely uncomfortable. I had hoped that this would cause folks to take a harder look at these dark realities, which have less to do with Trump himself and more to do with the basic functions of the state. But that hasn't happened. Instead of seeing the true enemy, the common enemy that has us all under the toe of its boot, people direct their anger and outrage at the media-approved target of the moment.
All of which doesn't make me wonder what will happen in the next political shakeup. It's pretty clear that American voters will retaliate against Trump by electing a more tolerable murderous sociopath to replace him. One who talks smooth, looks good in a suit, and, above all, knows how to euphemize--how to soothe people into a sleepy trance of smug political bliss, while they keep bombing the shit out of countries we are only vaguely aware of.