The New York Times editorial board just excoriated the racist post-truth bigotry of Donald Trump, comparing him to Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace in a new piece titled, “Mr. Trump’s Applause Lies.” The Times, which is often mellow even its editorials, had, like the rest of us, apparently had enough of Trump’s “racist lies.” “If it’s a lie too vile to utter aloud,” the editorial said, count or Mr. Trump to say it, often.”
The paper offers a partial list of Trump’s recent false statements, which, alarmingly, represents only one week of the toxic bile that regularly gushes from Mr. Trump’s mouth:
The United States is about to take in 250,000 Syrian refugees; African-Americans are responsible for most white homicides; and during the 9/11 attacks, “thousands and thousands” of people in an unnamed “Arab” community in New Jersey “were cheering as that building was coming down.”
There are, of course, many many more racist lies and fear-mongering that have been spewed by this pathetic excuse for a politician from his speech about Mexican “rapists and murderers,” to his lies about insulting women, his approval of the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester, and his proto-fascist ideas to issue Muslims special ID cards and monitor all mosques, just to name a few.
The editorial then compares Trump’s fear-mongering proto-fascism and vile demagoguery to that of noted liar, totalitarian, and fear-mongerer Joseph McCarthy, who led the infamous McCarthy hearings of “suspected Communists” and instituted black lists and persecution on numerous such people:
Here’s Donald Trump on Sunday: “When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse. And I definitely want a database and other checks and balances. We want to go with watch lists. We want to go with databases. And we have no choice. We have no idea who’s being sent in here. This could be the — it’s probably not, but it could be the great Trojan horse of all time, where they come in.”
Here’s Joseph McCarthy in 1950: “Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down — they are truly down.”
It then draws another comparison to former Alabama governor George Wallace, infamous for his own mix of toxic racism with populist politics:
Here’s Donald Trump last Tuesday: “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule. And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Here’s George Wallace in 1963: “We must redefine our heritage, re-school our thoughts in the lessons our forefathers knew so well, in order to function and to grow and to prosper. We can no longer hide our head in the sand and tell ourselves that the ideology of our free fathers is not being attacked and is not being threatened by another idea … for it is.”
As the editorial notes and demonstrates, lying demagogic politicians appealing to people’s basest instincts of racism and hatred of “the other”, disguised as pride and security, are nothing new. What’s so terrifying is that, with Trump still far and away leading the polls for the Republican nomination – and his numbers only having increased as his racist rhetoric has ratcheted up in the week since the Paris attacks – we as a nation seem to have learned nothing from the lessons of the past that such vile men as McCarthy and Wallace have left for us. While one would like to hope that such a stinging denunciation from a major newspaper would take some of the wind out of Trump’s sails, given the post-truth world that he and his followers inhabit, this is almost certainly wishful thinking.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.