In Paris, Trump walks alone as French president rips nationalism

Noah Bierman
Los Angeles Times, November 11, 2018

PARIS – President Donald Trump walked apart from the dozens of world leaders who marched together on Armistice Day, November 11, toward the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the moment when World War I ended 100 years ago, a time when Western allies believed the world’s survival depended on American leadership and global cooperation.

Then Trump watched uncomfortably as French President Emmanuel Macron warned that nationalism, a label Trump recently embraced for his “America First” movement, threatened to undermine global order and inflict more suffering on the world.

“Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said. “By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others?’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace, and what is essential for its moral values.”

Macron’s address was another dramatic recognition of the widespread anger and concern in Europe and elsewhere about Trump’s belligerent rhetoric and policies, which have isolated the United States in some areas and challenged the institutions that took shape after the two world wars to ensure peace.

The White House said Trump didn’t join other leaders in marching under umbrellas to the Armistice Day centennial com-memoration, arriving by motorcade instead, because of security concerns. But it also symbolized how Trump views himself as apart from other world leaders and his predecessors in the White House, who transformed America into the world’s only superpower.

As the U.S. president, Trump was given a front-row-center seat among the other leaders, receiving a hearty handshake from Macron and a thumbs up from Russian President Vladimir Putin after Trump took his place under a temporary viewing structure that protected them from rain.

But the keynote speech delivered by Macron was not designed to comfort Trump. Macron recounted the suffering inflicted by World War I — millions of lives lost, millions more ruined, the orphans, the destroyed villages, “the scars of which are still visible.” He cast nationalism as a dangerous and selfish ideology that pushed countries into that war and now risked undermining its lessons. Ignoring those lessons, he said, led to World War II and even more suffering.

Trump sat between his wife, Melania, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Macron, who stepped up his criticism of right-wing European and American nationalism last week, warned of “old demons that are coming back to the surface.”

Merkel has also stood in opposition to Trump’s worldview, promising common cause and unity with Macron during a ceremony the previous day intended to show reconciliation between the former adversaries.

“The lesson we draw of the Great War cannot be rancor and resentment against other nations and it cannot be allowing the past to be forgotten,” Macron said. He did not name Trump, but his aim was clear. “Let us add our hopes together instead of seeing our fears oppose each other,” he said.

Macron’s speech was the centerpiece of a memorial service that commemorated one of the bloodiest wars in history, which ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month but left a long legacy of suffering.

– PeaceMeal, Nov/December 2018

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Trump will have blood on his hands

Bret Stephens
The New York Times, August 4, 2018

The voice, if I had to guess, belongs to that of a white American male in late middle age. The accent is faintly Southern, the manner taunting but relaxed. It’s also familiar: I’m pretty sure he’s left a message on my office number before. But the last voice mail left almost no impression. Not this time.

“Hey Bret, what do you think? Do you think the pen is mightier than the sword, or that the AR is mightier than the pen?”

He continues: “I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now. You’re worthless, the press is the enemy of the United States people and, you know what, rather than me shoot you, I hope a Mexican and, even better yet, I hope a n— shoots you in the head, dead.”

He repeats the racial slur 10 times in a staccato rhythm, concluding with the send-off: “Have a nice day, n— lover.”

He doesn’t give his name. His number is blocked.

The call dates from the end of May, right after I had published a column defending ABC’s firing of Roseanne Barr for a racist tweet. “Perhaps the reason Trump voters are so frequently the subject of caricature,” I wrote, “is that they so frequently conform to type.”

Four weeks later, a gunman storms into a newsroom in Annapolis, Md., and murders five employees of the Capital Gazette.

The alleged killer in the Annapolis shooting does not appear to have acted from a political motive. But the message I got in May was the third time I’ve been expressly or implicitly threatened with violence by someone whose views clearly align with Donald Trump’s. Otherwise, the only equivalent threat I’ve dealt with in my career involved a Staten Island man who later went to prison for his ties to Hezbollah.

Which brings me to the July 20 meeting between Trump and two senior leaders of The Times, publisher A.G. Sulzberger and editorial page editor James Bennet. As Sulzberger later described the encounter, he warned the president that “his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” and that characterizations of the news media as “the enemy of the people” are “contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

Sulzberger’s warning had no effect. Nine days after what was supposed to be an off-the-record meeting, the president tweeted that he and Sulzberger “spent much time talking about vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”

By now, it almost passes without comment that the president of the United States not only violates the ground rules of his own meetings with the press, but also misrepresents the substance of the conversation.

Also nearly past comment was the president’s remark, in a follow-on tweet, that the media were “very unpatriotic” for revealing “internal deliberations of our government” that could put people’s lives at risk. That’s almost funny considering that no media organ has revealed more such deliberations, with less regard for consequences, than his beloved WikiLeaks.

What can’t be ignored is presidential behavior that might best be described as incitement. Maybe Trump supposes that the worst he’s doing is inciting the people who come to his rallies to give reporters like CNN’s Jim Acosta the finger. And maybe he thinks that most journalists, with their relentless hostility to his personality and policies, richly deserve public scorn.

Yet for every 1,000 or so Trump supporters whose contempt for the press rises only as far as their middle fingers, a few will be people like my caller. Of that few, how many are ready to take the next fatal step? In the age of the active shooter, the number isn’t zero.

Should that happen — when that happens — and journalists are dead because some nut thinks he’s doing the president’s bidding against the fifth column that is the media, what will Trump’s supporters say? No, the president is not coyly urging his supporters to murder reporters, like Henry II trying to rid himself of a turbulent priest. But neither is he the child who played with a loaded gun and knew not what he did.

Donald Trump’s more sophisticated defenders have long since mastered the art of pretending that the only thing that matters with his presidency is what it does, not what he says. But not all of the president’s defenders are quite as sophisticated. Some of them didn’t get the memo about taking Trump seriously but not literally. A few hear the phrase “enemy of the people” and are prepared to take the words to their logical conclusion.

Is my caller one of them? I can’t say. But what should be clear is this: We are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the president’s hands.

– PeaceMeal, Sept/October 2018

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)