Two items this week about Donald Trump make me wonder whether the candidate can sink any lower.
First, in an article in the NY Times about one of his golf courses and a plaque indicating a bloody river crossing during the Civil War, which historians claim never happened, Trump said, “This was a prime river crossing, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot—a lot of them.” When it was pointed out to him that no historian supports the claim, he said, “How would they know that? Were they there?” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/us/politics/in-renovation-of-golf-club-donald-trump-also-dressed-up-history.html
Following this Know Nothingism comes Trump’s mocking the appearance of reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability. Kovalesiki has arthrogryposis, a disease in which the joints contract. Here is the video: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/11/26/trump-blasted-mocking-disabled-reporter/76409418/
What can you say about someone who makes fun of a person’s disability? Trump has the answer: he wasn’t mocking him at all. He “merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago.” He continues, “Despite having one of the great all-time great memories, I certainly don’t remember him.”
I can’t dispute whether Trump has one of the great all-time memories. I haven’t met everyone in the world, both now and in the past, against which to compare him. But the reporter says that the two had met repeatedly while the Kovaleski worked for the Post. “Donald and I were on a first name basis.”
So either the reporter is lying about meeting Trump or Trump is lying about meeting the reporter, in which case Trump’s claim to having one of the all-time great memories isn’t true either.
What can you say about someone who thinks historians can’t know the past because they weren’t there? The alleged meetings between Kovaleski and Trump are now part of history. I’ll follow Trump’s advice and not turn to an historian to settle the facts. Instead, I’ll turn to the Internet and watch the video of Trump’s comments about the reporter and see for myself.
All this consternation around Trump might make fun reality TV, but it doesn’t make for sane political discourse. It as though the class clown and bully has told the teacher to shut up and sit down.
None of this would matter so much and we could chalk it up to good entertainment if others in Trump’s own party would call him out on his outrageous, offensive, inaccurate and threatening behavior. The silence on their part is almost as frightening as Trump’s antics.
Edmund Burke, once considered by conservatives to be their wise counsel, said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
If parents don’t stop children who act out, we get children who are bullies; if schools don’t stop bullying, the real lesson children learn is the might makes right; if colleagues don’t oust bullies from positions of power, good people will leave the workplace; if politicians won’t stand up to bullies in their own party, the country itself is threatened.
If good people do nothing to stop bullies, at what point are they responsible for the evil that follows?