“It’s just, well as long as I’m an outlaw anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma.”
Words matter. Someone gave the president a masterfully intricate, hand-crafted collection of the best words available, all intended to promote a fallacy of relevance: argumentum ad baculum, or the “might makes right” fallacy. And just like that, Donald’s words shouldn’t matter — but they still do, because he’s POTUS.
Yes, it’s ironic that Donald Trump chose a “fallacy of relevance” to defend his failing presidency, but the consequences could be catastrophic. If you go look, you’ll see that pretty much every knife in Donald’s drawer is a fallacy of relevance, including the genetic fallacy, ad hominem, ad populum, or ad misericordiam (literally an “argument from pity”). Poor Donald. This job is HARD.
There is nothing new or particularly surprising here — conservatives have always responded to the “strict father” (do as I say) model of governance. ‘I don’t care if you love me or not, there are rules in my house. I’m sorry your brothers just opened up a six inch laceration across your scalp — it was an accident — now say you love them. We’re a family. Say it.’
Wait, what? You didn’t hear that? Well, the transcript is available for the media, pundits and others to discuss ad nauseum; I’ve done many a deep-dive into the language deployed to destabilize our democracy. But yeah — this speech was designed to put Charlottesville in the rear view mirror. ‘Families squabble. Get over it and get past it, because the men and women sitting in front of me might just lose a limb or their lives if you don’t.’ Seriously — it’s all there if you just look.
As I was scanning through the transcript this morning however, feeling my pulse quicken and blood pressure rise, it occurred to me that each paragraph was laden with intent; the entire transcript a play in three acts. Act 1: Unity of purpose; rally ‘round the flag, boys! Do it for mom. Act 2: A gathering storm; we can no longer ignore threats. Act 3: WAR.
For every conservative you know who wants to crow about how “tough” we’re finally getting, now that Trump’s in command, remember this line: “I was given a bad and very complex hand.” Or, perhaps, “No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation.” I like this one: “Your lips are moving and you’re complaining about something. That’s whinging. This one’s been killed six times. You don’t hear him whinging about it.” — The Hound, GoT
Stand back from the words, and the circular reasoning of Trump’s speech should be laughable. He’s POTUS, though, so nobody’s laughing. And yes, he declared war on Pakistan. Spin, cons, spin — and re-explain to me like I’m in 3rd grade the powers granted the Executive to combat terrorism. War is coming to Pakistan — get used to the idea. Call it something else if you need to shelter Mr. and Mrs. Middle America from the sure and certain knowledge that we’re about to incinerate entire villages, “like the world has never seen before.”
An appeal to force (might makes right) is usually only deployed as a last resort. The evidence is clear here: Russia spent nine years in the mountains and has nothing to show for it; we’ve been there since 9/11 — 17 years and counting (we’ve always been a bit slow to learn our lessons). The guys that do this for a living only have one way: forward. They’ve trained hard to do a job and ‘ooo-rah’ — they want to get them some right about now. ‘Enough with the kid stuff — enough with that video arcade, remote-controlled and sanitized for your protection bullshit. “Those people” are our enemies and we’re going to kill them all.’
And then there’s the other half of the squad. Equally committed to successfully completing the mission, but who also understand that while the job they took on “demands loyalty to one another,” suggesting their sacrifice means “love for America requires love for all of its people” is ludicrous. The founding fathers fought bitterly and disagreed on many issues; this country was literally forged in compromise. Blind allegiance is what ISIS or Al Qaeda demands — it shouldn’t be given to Donald Trump.
The problem Trump wants to move past is one of loyalty. The issue he really can’t grapple with publicly is ALL about honor. Those “beautiful statues” and “history” he can’t stop tweeting about represent the antithesis of unity. The engine of the southern economy (slavery) was under siege, and the “heritage” of keeping black folks in chains tore a nation in two.
When Team Trump talks about the “good history” the “alt-left” is trying to erase, they want to forget their boss said, “laziness is a trait in blacks.” Trump didn’t deny saying that — until he did later. Words matter — unless they’re coming out of the president’s mouth. It’s time for the people to be heard. Recess will be over before you know it. So put on your thinking caps and sharpen your pencils.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve got my traveling boots on — it’s about damned time Mr. Joad goes to Washington. When’s the rally, kids?