The thing I like best about the Americans these days is that they make Canadians look so good. I say these days because there was a time that although I might have found them to be a little arrogant, I actually held them in high regard.
Then along came Donald Trump.
I watched him belittle his opponents when he was running for president, mock a handicapped journalist, rattle on about fake news while he played fast and loose with the truth himself.
The American public loved it enough to elect him president. A lot of the respect I held for them disappeared with that move.
My intent here is not to focus on Trump. Plenty has been said and written about him elsewhere. But I thought I would pass on a bit of information from The Washington Post that I found interesting. As is well-known, President Joe Biden has been a gaffe-factory ever since he was elected to public office some 50 years ago and has now led some, including Trump, to question his acuity and fitness for office.
Well it turns out Trump may have some problems along these lines himself.
The Post points out that in recent speeches, Trump has incorrectly described Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as the leader of Turkey and falsely suggested Hungary shares a border with Russia. He has repeatedly referred to the Obama administration when he meant the Biden administration, and at one point he inaccurately suggested he’d beaten Obama — rather than Hillary Clinton — in the 2016 election.
Trump has also mispronounced “on purpose” as “on perfect” and “Marxist” as “markers,” and he has combined the names of Florida Democrat Andrew Gillum and Florida Republican Adam Putnam to get “Pullam.” At the end of one speech, he warned that the world must not slide into World War II.
Such verbal stumbles, The Post notes, are hardly new for Trump, who in 2016 referred to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as “7/11” and in 2019 addressed Apple CEO Tim Cook as “Tim Apple.”
The former president suggested former Joint Chief Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley deserves execution and called special counsel Jack Smith “deranged.”
And he makes clear that if re-elected he will “weaponize” the justice department and FBI against anyone perceived as an enemy and will dump many civil servants and replace them with “loyalists”.
It goes on and on and will continue to do so as he has hoodwinked a good portion of the American public into becoming his “base” of support.
But let’s move on to other interesting but also unattractive features of America as it stands today. U.S. universities are having a major fight against anti-semitism, students rallying in support of the Palestinians and against the Israelis, the horrific attack by Hamas terrorists that got it all started seemingly forgotten or ignored.
I find that upsetting enough but then comes the news that young Americans have been posting videos on TikTok expressing sympathy with Osama bin Laden, the notorious terrorist who orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks, for a two-decade-old letter he wrote which attempts to justify the targeting and killing of American civilians. Many of the videos, which supported some of Bin Laden’s assertions and urged other users to read the letter, were shared in the wider context of criticism of American support for Israel in its ongoing war against Hamas.
But it seems to me history must be given short-shrift in American high schools because surely the attacks that killed 3,000 American civilians should be familiar to those now espousing Bin Laden’s cause. He killed their own fellow citizens, for goodness sake.
Maybe this stuff can be written off as coming from impressionable young minds but the worry to me is that among them will be the future leaders of the country. I can only hope some of them get better history lessons along the way.
And just last Saturday 24 masked neo-Nazis marched through Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, waving swastikas around, shouting racial slurs at onlookers, and chanting “there will be blood.”
Footage from the scene showed them standing in formation to perform a Nazi salute while onlookers mostly mocked them and called them “disgusting.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that they spent about 30 minutes outside the statehouse after marching through state Capitol grounds. The group reportedly also stopped in front of a local synagogue and, among other hateful rhetoric, chanted, “Israel is not our friend.”
To me there was one encouraging note in this: Onlookers called them disgusting.
A few weeks back I watched in wonder as a small group of Republican members of Congress orchestrated the fall of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and then after some raucous infighting the entire Republican membership elected election-denier and homophobe Mike Johnson of Louisiana in his place. This guy, who is against pretty well everything society now finds normal, is second in line behind Vice-President Kamala Harris for the presidency.
It should be hard to believe that the Republicans would end up with someone so hard right but it really isn’t. After all, he was not alone as a Republican to vote against certifying the 2020 election. There were 140 other Republicans in Congress who voted that way and there were election-deniers spread across the country, many in high positions.
This led to so many threats against election workers that many quit, making it harder for election officials to find staff.
This is dangerous stuff. The people who man the shop on election day and those leading up to it are the ones who make democracy work. The mind boggles at the thought that some people would attempt to thwart their work to assist a demagogue who harbors little thought for them.
Man, it feels so good to be Canadian.