Jeb Bladine: Most wars begin with demonization
President Donald Trump recently stood on so-called hallowed ground in front of the CIA Memorial Wall — there, presumably, to soothe wounds he inflicted by comparing the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany.
First, however, the president put his tender ego on display by telling an unnecessary lie about the size of his inaugural crowd. Ironically, he preceded that falsehood with this piece of venom:
“As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
In that instant, I realized a war on freedom of the press is underway at the highest level of our federal government.
Demonization is the opening gambit for launching any kind of war, and our new president knows how to stir the cauldrons of fear and hatred in ways reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy. When he has sufficiently weakened public support for protection of press rights, it will become easier to purge some of those freedoms.
Last week, we witnessed a local skirmish in the war against media when a letter-writer asserted that not only should we muzzle our opinions, but we should censor the views of others. It was one of those other opinions, not our own, that prompted this writer to proclaim:
“This is the second attempt by the Fourth Estate to make policy which is reserved to those elected by the people … and which once again demonstrates the News-Register’s patent lack of judgment, responsibility and honesty in reporting.”
Classic McCarthyism. And now, almost 65 years later, classic Trumpism.
Unfortunately, to the great detriment of our country and our world, it works. Republicans demonize Democrats, and vice versa, to win elections; candidates demonize each other; tyrants around the world demonize the United States; interest groups demonize people with different opinions; and inexorably, that language filters naturally into our daily conversations and debates.
Some people will say I’m guilty of the same offense by trying to demonize President Trump, which is not my intent. He became president in a fair Electoral College election, and his views are shared by 46 percent of Americans who voted. He has the right to exercise all the powers we provide to a sitting president, and I hope he uses those powers to benefit our country, our people and the world we inhabit.
But the strategy of demonization and lies must end. It’s as un-American as Joe McCarthy.
Jeb Bladine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-687-1223.