During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Sen. John McCain was confronted with a not-so-bizarre dilemma: How to respond to a clearly fearful, paranoid female supporter in his own town hall forum who actually believed that Barack Obama was a “Muslim” and possibly a supporter of “terrorists.” For most reasonable people, this woman was more an object of “pity” or frustration with racist ignorance rather than derision, but then again polls seemed to suggest at the time that as many as a third of Americans—perhaps as many as half of all white voters, tended to believe this. And then there was the “birther” brigade, headed by Donald Trump and Russian immigrant Orly Taitz, who insisted that Obama was not an American by birth. Still others insisted that Obama was not “American” at all, either in spirit or in fact.
Sen, McCain is a decent fellow at heart despite his occasional bad temper, and he tried to calm the woman by attempting to reassure her that Obama was not a Muslim or a terrorist but an American just like her. My own feeling watching this was that this woman couldn’t be for real, maybe even a “plant.” However, I have to admit from personal experience that there is no accounting for bigotry, ignorance and stupidity born of stereotyping and paranoia, even from allegedly “educated” and “Christian” people who like to pass “moral” judgments on others.
Which brings me to the latest bizarre episode starring the just-this-side-of-senility Donald Trump. After Sen. McCain broke ranks with his Republican colleagues and categorically derided Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” and thus “riling up the crazies” amongst the Republican base, Trump retaliated by attacking Sen. McCain, a naval aviator during the Vietnam War who was shot down over North Vietnam and was a POW for five years. Trump claimed that Sen. McCain he was not an “authentic” war hero; only those who were not captured were “heroes.”
Like his gross misinterpretation of an article on sexual assaults on female immigrants written by two American feminists with a political agenda, Trump seemed ignorant of the fact that you can’t exactly not be captured after parachuting deep inside enemy territory—unless, of course, he thinks it is more “heroic” to simply commit suicide by plane crash or get shot dead without point. In Japan, there have been business executives who committed suicide after they ran their companies into the ground; Trump just goes to the next bankruptcy court. Some “hero.”
However, it seems that these comments did not hurt Trump in the polls. In fact, Trump’s claims that Mexicans were all “rapists” seemed to excite the racist element in the country, which apparently is much larger than the media seems to think; I happen to believe that some in the media (especially black commentators) didn’t mind having Hispanics marginalized and dehumanized still further. Thus when he arrived at a Christian conservative conference last week in Iowa, he was on solid ground. But according to the New York Times, Republican candidates who now saw an opening not available in Trump ignorant attack on immigrants found that they were not necessarily on solid ground themselves when attacking Trump on his Sen. McCain remarks:
Yet for all the outrage among party elites, some attendees at the Christian conservative conference where Mr. Trump made his comments were not nearly as offended, a reminder of the chasm between the Republican power structure and its grass roots.
Not only that, but there was proof that “Christian conservatives”—or the extreme right in general—were not offended by racist stereotypes or attacks on the military service (or in Trump’s case, the lack thereof):
“Well, I was turned off at the very start because I didn’t like his language,” Becky Kruse, of Lovilia, Iowa, said of Mr. Trump, not mentioning his comments about Mr. McCain. Ms. Kruse said she likes Mr. Trump’s hard line on immigration and came to the event considering him. “I was not too impressed,” she said, noting Mr. Trump’s comment about not seeking God’s forgiveness. “He sounds like he isn’t really a born-again Christian.”
While Ms. Kruse didn’t care much for Trump’s “language” or his lack “Christian” credentials, she had been attracted by his ignorant remarks concerning immigrants, and apparently didn’t agree with Sen. McCain’s suggestion that she might be one of those “crazies.” The hypocrisy of these people is simply beyond belief. Trump’s views on immigrants and McCain were despicable both in “language” and in fact, but these people found the superficial more disturbing than his factual ignorance. In my mind, these people do as much to discredit Christianity as Muslim jihadists do to Islam. The only “humans” they know are white, “100 percent” Americans. The reality is that everyone has good and bad in them; it is just that “good.”in some people, the “bad” is “good.”