This week The Washington Post published an op-ed headlined: “It’s not wrong to compare Trump’s America to the Holocaust.” As with similar examples of this genre, it’s a sickening display of moral relativism that belittles the suffering and murder of millions in the service of some short-sighted and crass partisan fearmongering.
This week Politico published an opinion piece headlined: “Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor,” which demeaned the sacrifice of American soldiers by likening a military attack on American soil that brought us into the bloodiest war mankind has ever experienced to email phishing.
On MSNBC, where illiterate histrionic analogies litter coverage every day, a contributor compared Donald Trump’s meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht, just to be safe.
Social media is teeming with similar hyperbole — “treason,” “traitor,” etc . — and not just from anonymous trolls. It’s difficult to accept anyone with a working brain actually believes this rhetoric, and they certainly don’t act like it. But if well-heeled pundits keep telling everyone The Fourth Reich is imminent before retiring to their townhouses in Capitol Hill every night, some people might actually start believing them. And if email phishing and hacking is truly comparable to Pearl Harbor or Kristallnacht or the Holocaust there’s really no reason why those accepting these analogies shouldn’t also support military reprisals abroad and coups at home.
Defenders of this hyperbole often claim that they’re not making an exact equivalence to the lives lost, but rather to the intent of all those attackers. All of them, they say, are intended to destabilize “our democracy.” Well, yes. One aspect of similarity still doesn’t make the events comparable. It would be saying Iran’s spying on the United States – spying that resulted in our military technology being sold to China — is comparable to 9/11 because both those nations intended to harm our democracy. And if this were so, it would be treasonous to make peace with these nations, and completely rational to wage war. But surely we can find less feverish analogies.
Russia attempted to meddle in our domestic affairs, and there should be retribution and condemnation for those efforts. But our electoral system was not “undermined.” It withstood, as it has for many decades, Russian attempts to mess with institutions. The reaction to those hacking efforts, on the other hand, does no favors to democracy, and it certainly does no favors to Democrats who are suddenly horrified by the Putin threat.
You might remember how liberals lectured Americans after 9/11 about appropriate way to deal with terrorists. For the most part it amounted to, ‘don’t kill them, that’s exactly what they want!’ Well, it’s certain that this is what Putin wants. Few things “destabilize democracy” more than imbuing a foreign strongman from a second-rate power with the imaginary capability of deciding our elections.
Nor is Donald Trump’s hamfisted, misguided and transparent Putin-coddling tantamount to sedition. For a number of reasons — including, like many of his detractors, an inability or refusal to make any distinction between Russian “meddling” and attacks on the legitimacy of his election — the president is a fan of Putin. Even though his administration has been tougher on Russia in many respects than the previous ones, there’s no way around the fact that the president admires strongmen.
That’s doesn’t make his foreign policy position an act of “treason” any more than it was treason for Obama to coddle the Iranian — even though the former president sided with Iran (and Hezbollah) over American law enforcement. Your hysterics make it impossible for many people to even concede that you might have a point to make.
Since Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, many Republicans, including the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader have come out in support of the intelligence community assessment of Russian meddling, weakening the argument that the GOP always walks lockstep behind the president.
There could even have been some consensus in Washington over how to move forward. Instead, we had elected Democrats spinning melodramatic political fairy tales about the Ruskies controlling the GOP, about the need to start coups and about the presence of Kompromat. This morning an army of blue checkmarks were retweeting and oohing and aahing over an erroneous report about how a Russian spy had infiltrated the Oval Office, simply because the woman in question had red hair and looked vaguely similar.
The Trump presser with Putin was unhinged. And so is your reaction to it.