The constant coverage of President Trump’s interminable sex scandals and slapstick gaffes has the unfortunate side effect of tempering our perception of the man behind the Big Mac.
He is every bit the demented, lecherous FOX News grampa we all know and despise; but it is critical that we remember that at his core, he is a sociopathic monster capable of enormous cruelty simply for the sake of it.
That much was made very clear in a new report from the Washington Post, which recounts a conversation between President Trump and the director of the CIA’s drone program as they watched the grim footage of a strike on a suspected terrorist.
The film shows the drone operator waiting until the condemned man had wandered away from his family before pulling the trigger.
“Why did you wait?” asked Trump.
On the campaign trail, President Trump boasted that he would “take out the families” of “terrorists” – and under his presidency, the United States has reaped a terrible toll of the innocent.
The U.S.-led coalition against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria has killed at least 6,238 civilians over the past six years, according to independent monitoring group AirWars.
That number has skyrocketed under President Trump, as rules of engagement are loosened and all concerns for civilians deaths are thrown out the window when choosing when and where to strike.
His foreign policy is characterized by an appalling disregard for human life; the first covert mission of the Trump era saw a SEAL team descend on the village of Yakla in Yemen, where they slaughtered 30 people including ten children and a pregnant mother.
Reporting by The Daily Beast indicates that U.S. Marines participated in another massacre in Somalia. Ten civilians, including a child, were murdered in the town of Bariire. Reports from surviving locals indicate that Special Operations units fired upon unarmed civilians and stood by as Somali militiamen placed weapons upon their bodies for photographic evidence after death, in addition to putting heavy pressure on the struggling Somali government to bury the investigation into the atrocity.
One shudders to think of how many crimes against humanity our covert operations commit without the truth ever seeing the light of day. Indeed, Trump is doing his damndest to increase the death toll, ordering the CIA to revive their Obama-shuttered assassination squad program and appointing a notorious torturer to lead the CIA.
The coverage of these atrocities has been scant; the American population, by and large, has been hardwired to ignore the death and suffering of people of color and the mainstream news media would rather obsess over the petty games of Washington politics than the issues that actually mean life and death for people across the world.
While Trump’s horrifying remarks are chilling to hear from the leader of the world’s most expensive military, he is by no means alone.
“Enemy ‘civilian casualties’ ok by me!” gleefully wrote the diminutive conservative grievance preacher Ben Shapiro way back in 2002. “One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian.” That repugnant sentiment is unfortunately echoed by the political establishment of both parties and a large segment of the population, who have been trained to dehumanize people of color so successfully that not even the preventable lead poisoning of black communities in the United States could hold the nation’s attention for more than a week or two.
The anti-war movement in the United States has been quiet for years, their criticisms subsumed by both parties’ meek subservience to the military-industrial complex. The fear of being smeared as “unpatriotic” or “un-American” by political rivals has resulted in the complete absence of any kind of real oversight of our murderous intelligence agencies and the inevitable rubber-stamping of bloated military expenditure budgets by both parties.
If we truly wish to be a just society, we must demand more from our elected officials. We need more purity tests, not less. Tolerating political actions and rhetoric that excuses or justified the needless slaughter of other humans opened the door to the hell world we live in today.
Otherwise, all the ideals of a healthy democracy and the United States as a just nation of equals that the Democratic Party holds dear are rendered nothing but selfish, childish fantasies that liberals tell themselves to assuage their guilty consciences.
Trump may be the tumor, but the cancer has been lurking within American society for decades.