Blast from the Past #2
It's well over a year since the September 16, 2016 was first published. It seems an appropriate Blast for today. In light of the "President's" re-tweets from a British white supremacist conspiracy website, it's not like we didn't see it coming. What this Blast also notes is how expressing "regret" is not the same as an "apology," something we should particularly focus on as day after day men in powerful positions are toppled by their behavior and "apologize?" So, it's a Blast from the (recent) past, but a pretty relevant one.
September 16, 2017
Trump, the Moonwalk, and Apology/Regret
Five years ago Donald Trump began pedaling the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and, therefore, is not a legitimate President. Even after Obama (and Seth Meyers) decimated him at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, Trump persisted in claiming Obama was not a citizen. Typical of Trump, his lying has expanded to accusing the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2008 of starting this witch hunt --- with all evidence to the contrary --- and has also claimed that he did the nation “a service” in forcing the President to prove he is an American. It is noteworthy that 41% or Republicans still believe that Obama was not born in the United States. Trump’s claim is as credible as that of those who believe the July 20, 1969 NASA moonwalk was a hoax.
There is no way we can look at this claim and not see its implicit racism. That Trump, even in the current campaign, hints that Obama may be a Muslim (recently suggesting Obama would have attended Antonin Scalia’s funeral “if it were held in a mosque.”) is yet another example of how Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan is a thinly veiled plea to bring back a white, male, Christian run country that was only "great" when those men were at the helm. To deny the racism in Trump’s claims would be naïve, at best. To not make him accountable would be irresponsible.
Yet Trump, who seems incapable of admitting he is ever wrong, much less say “I’m sorry,” cannot bring himself to genuinely apologize for his Birther crusade. He may express “regret” but that is not the same as saying “I’m sorry.” A regret does not admit one is at fault, only that he is sorry he did something that may have bothered (or hurt) another. As Eric Schellhorn wrote in the April 8, 2001, SFGATE website (discussing the United States “regret” over flying into Chinese air space, when China demanded an apology):
From a semantic standpoint, regret or concern - "I'm sorry this happened" - is not at all the same thing as a full-fledged apology - "I'm sorry." The expression of regret sidesteps the central issue of fault, the admission of which is after all, what the aggrieved party is seeking.
An example I read somewhere used the scenario of a cheating husband who says to his spouse, “I regret that I cheated on you” as opposed to saying, “I’m sorry I did this and hurt you. I was wrong.” Trump, of course, ever the cheating/lying spouse (remember that Marla Maples thing?), cannot bring himself to ever admit that he is wrong. So, he twists the Birther conspiracy into a “service” to the country! Again, his claim that “many people” wanted to know about Obama’s nativity --- though none of those people are on record anywhere (but the far corners of the internet) claiming they wanted to know about Obama’s birthplace ---until Trump promoted the issue! Like those who disbelieve the NASA Moonwalk, Trump is susceptible to believing conspiracy theories that “people are saying” and that “I am hearing.” This is once again proof that this man is unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
The Birther “movement” was as fraudulent as Trump University and just one more example of the pure audacity of this man to claim he is a legitimate candidate for the highest office in the land. That Trump has the cojones to claim:
Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the controversy. I finished it. President Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Really? That’s his statement? No, “I’m sorry?” Not even “I regret” that I started this fraudulent and false conspiracy and witch hunt? Of course the Trump campaign will throw its hands up and ask, “What does the Liberal Media want?” because he finally said the President was, indeed, born in the U.S. They will not admit to yet another lie ("Clinton started the controversy") or dog-whistling white supremacist groups as well as those down-and-out working class Rust Belt voters who feel powerless in a rapidly changing America.
In the final analysis, Trump’s “announcement” today is only further confirmation that this man is a seriously disturbed narcissist who, at his core, is a small-minded (and tiny–handed) bigot. That millions of Americans are swayed by a Reality Show huckster who won’t release his taxes, who lies at a rate that PolitiFact scores at a 70-91% rate, is a genuine concern for all serious thinkers. While I don’t believe Donald Trump will be elected, I find it truly disturbing that he is not only the candidate of the Republican Party but also that millions of Americans will vote for him on November 8th.