Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trump's ignorance of history another example of his under-developed intellect

It seems that at least to the media, what men do in private is no longer “private,” even when the “crime” is only hurt feelings, embarrassing behavior, an “inappropriate” comment, or a joke in poor taste. These are firing offenses if you are a male. I have no allegiance to any woman, not even my own mother with whom I grew-up in dread of—the irony of which I no longer fear to speak the truth, which I have seen and experienced how self-victimization can easily morph into tyranny, oppression, and worse, massive hypocrisy on all levels of life.

Eventually I’m going to get around to talking about that, but for now I will say that this avalanche of sexual “crimes” seems to me a function of the impotence of the media and women’s advocates to do anything about Donald Trump, so even “friends” are “fair” targets even if the accusation appears to be the self-important desire to get in on the “action” of making a “social statement” in between partying, being a “superstar in their own minds” and making a lot of money. So much of what we are hearing about now were staples in teen comedy films during the Seventies and Eighties, which of course causes someone my age to further question the motivations and politics of the current inundation of sexual “crimes.” 

But in the meantime, the world turns and no one is immune from its affects, although if you are particularly well-off the hypocrisy is something you can somehow find a way to live with yourself. Naturally, when it comes to who is making those decisions that benefit you while you still want to feel like a “victim,” it is useful to note that all of this is coming from a man and a political party with an infantile sense of historical perspective. History forgotten, is history repeated. Take for example the following statement.

His passions are terrible… and he could never speak from the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke from rage…I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing (this man) president. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has very little respect for law or constitutions…he is a dangerous man.

One may be excused for assuming that this is a description of Trump, for it seems very much how many people view him. But although this particular viewpoint does not in fact refer to Trump, it is in reference to a man who Trump apparently idolizes, probably at the behest of one of his alt-right advisers, given Trump’s astonishing ignorance of history. The above quotation is Thomas Jefferson’s frank appraisal of Andrew Jackson, a man who when in one of his frequent rages contemporaries noted the tendency of spittle to froth from his mouth instead of words. 

When I was in college I wrote a piece on each of the three presidents who called the state the school was located “home” for the campus newspaper. Frankly, if this state was my “home,” I’d be somewhat sheepish in admitting the state produced these men as president. For example, the second of these presidents, James Polk, was responsible for initiating the Mexican-American War; none other than Abraham Lincoln challenged Polk to supply the evidence of where any of those spots of American blood were spilled that Polk used to “justify” the war, while in his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant wrote that this war was

one of the most unjust [wars] ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. . . . The occupation, separation, and annexation [of Texas] were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a (slave-power) conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave States might be formed for the American Union [U.S.A.]. Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced on Mexico cannot. . . . The Southern Rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations like individuals are punished for their transgressions.

The third president from this state, Andrew Johnson, was infamous for becoming the first to be impeached, and being but one vote shy of being removed from office. He also wished to allow ex-Confederate states to re-enter the Union without punishment and discard protections for newly-freed slaves, This president also championed the first  Homestead Act, which—the history books usually fail to note—was essentially another part of the ongoing Indian removal policy. 

But the first of these presidents, Jackson, was in many ways as bad and probably even worse. Although Jackson was supposedly a “man of the people”—he was born in poverty—his idea of “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. merely meant replacing perceived enemies on “Trumped-up” charges with largely incompetent and unfit amateurs, much like what we see in the Trump administration, where we find Trump filling important government positions with people whose only “qualifications” is that they feed Trump’s bigoted predilections, or with his children and relations in positions of power for which they are clearly not competent in. It can be argued that Jackson’s “draining of the swamp” was largely responsible for a culture of government corruption that would culminate in the Warren G. Harding administration. John Quincy Adams, one of Jackson’s many enemies, said that instead of creating an “American Union as a moral Person in the family of Nations,” Jackson used his power to “growl and snarl with impotent fury against a money broker's shop, to rivet into perpetuity the clanking chain of the Slave, and to waste in boundless bribery to the west the invaluable inheritance of the Public Lands.”

Of course we wouldn’t expect Trump to know any of this, given the fact that despite being a “New Yorker” he is completely unfamiliar with the citizenship status of Puerto Ricans despite their large presence in the city. We can also question the “quality” of his Ivy League “education” for which knowledge of U.S. history is something students apparently are already supposed to know; I recall reading something about how students at Harvard get automatic “B” grades for any course work, because it is assumed that since they are supposed to be “smarter” than everyone else, any substandard work must be the fault of “lazy” habits. 

And it goes on. Trump claimed that Jackson opposed the Civil War and would have found a way to avoid it. It has been pointed out to Trump that Jackson died many years before the war, and it had been decades in the making. Trump seems not to understand that the war was about the maintenance of slavery, and for the South there was no “alternative” but war when an “abolitionist” was elected president, despite the fact that Lincoln had no intention of abolishing slavery, just stopping its expansion. 

It is interesting to note Trump’s ignorance of history in having his meeting with Navajo “code talkers” in front of a portrait of Jackson, and its meaning to both Native Americans and blacks. While Jackson has been praised for opposing South Carolina’s “nullification” act against federal tariffs, he refused to protect encroachment on Cherokee Indian land in Georgia, and in fact ignored two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upheld the enforcement of treaties signed by the U.S. government with the Cherokee. Jackson is said to have observed that Chief Justice John Marshall should enforce the decision himself; Jackson’s refusal to protect Native American treaty rights led to the enforced removal of the Cherokee on the infamous “Trail of Tears” upon which many died. Jackson was of course a slaveholder, and his brutal campaign against the Creeks in 1812 was an undisguised effort to confiscate their land for the use of slaveholders, and the decision to allow Georgia to confiscate Cherokee land for the same reason supplies another score against Jackson and places an even bigger dunce cap on Trump.

And yet Jackson is viewed as a “great” president. Although he did leave office more popular than when he entered it, and no matter how his biographers attempt to put a rosy face on his administration, Jackson is arguably a president who was moved more by passions that do not bear close examination, for they reveal a dark space in the human psyche. And this is Trump’s “hero.” Yet if he had to have one, Jackson fits the bill because even with Jackson’s demerits, he is a “better” president than Trump in his all vast illiteracies can’t even hope to match.

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