The Trump effect

Donald Trump is obviously not entirely unintelligent. By the same token, not even his biggest fan could deny that he frequently says things that are, to put it kindly, maladroit.

But here is the thing. Every time he says something that makes us think, “Hey, that’s not right”, his political opponents come along and say something even worse.  This week, for example, he said, “No politician in history, and I say this with great serious, has been treated worse or more unfairly”

Mandela sadIt was a remark which demonstrates an extraordinarily distorted view of himself. And it prompted this picture on Facebook, showing Nelson Mandela behind bars, looking sad (as he would be) but with a wistful and tolerant half-smile. The implication, of course, is that Nelson Mandela was a politician who had been treated worse or more unfairly, and that it was really dumb of Donald Trump to forget it.

But Mandela was not sent to prison as a politician. He was sent to prison as a terrorist. We will probably never know quite how many people Mandela killed, either directly or indirectly. Some reports put it at about 200 deaths, and many others injured. Like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness (also mass murderers), he is one of these people for whom the past has, in some sense, been erased by their subsequent efforts towards peaceful resolution of broader conflicts. The families of all their victims are required to relinquish their anguish. And there is some sense in that, for the greater good.

mandella-the-terrorist_thumbBut it is dumb to suggest that Mandela was treated badly for his politics. He was very lucky not to be hanged for his crimes.

And so Donald Trump will never be the dumbest kid on the block. Whenever he says something stupid, there will be someone on the political left who says something even more stupid in response.

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