Vicious, violent ideologies – white supremacy, fascism, communism – have become a regular and acceptable presence in the public square. Where is the media pushback?
When I got married, we hired a videographer to film the event. Though we only booked him for a few hours, he worked overtime, arriving at our apartment around 10:00 AM, and staying through the end of the reception.
My nephew was our ring bearer. He was three. He had a little suit, with bowtie, and he came by our apartment where I was getting ready in the mid-afternoon. He hadn’t eaten dinner, and so he grew cranky.
The videographer caught him on camera, crying, and in our wedding video, there is a slow motion clip of him, as my mom fixes his tie, where he starts to wipe away the tears.
It is supposed to be moving, and it would be, except I was teaching 8th grade then, and my wedding coincided with our yearly unit on the Holocaust. For that reason, when I saw that part of our wedding video, all I could think about were all the children murdered in concentration camps.
I know this is morbid. But it happened. I watched my nephew cry on camera, and I started crying.
Because I think, for the first time, it really set in that all those children were real. They were somebody’s nephew who gets cranky and starts crying when they don’t get lunch. They were all somebody’s nephew, son, niece, daughter. To whom we failed.
Utterly and forever.
I was reminded of that in reading about last night’s Foreign Film Oscar winner, Son of Saul. The New York Times has a beautiful tribute to the feat accomplished in the movie. Namely, that we are not allowed to make the victims numbers, or faceless faces. We must confront them on the subjective merits, meet the main character – a Jewish prisoner – and travel with his perspective as he struggles to provide a Jewish burial for one of the boys in his concentration camp.
Why do I write of this, besides to give thanks and praise to Son of Saul director, László Nemes?
Because there is a man who the media has taken un-seriously. There is a man who has built his political campaign around being outrageous and scandalous.
And now he is normalizing horrifying and dangerous ideas. He is making them acceptable to say in the public square.
And instead of unmasking him and challenging him, journalists have given him a pass.
They’ve written thoughtful “think” pieces about his appeal to disenfranchised voters.
They’ve written triumphantly about his ability to “get things done.”
They’ve let him dictate what questions he will and won’t answer.
They’ve allowed him to hijack press coverage so that he is the only story.
And they have not even attempted to expose him as:
1) a man in the middle of a civil fraud case
2) a man who is on the verge of starting an international crisis on our southern border
3) a man who in the span of just one weekend managed to:
- imply the judge in his case cannot be fair because he is Hispanic
- refuse three times to denounce the KKK
- retweet a quote by fascist dictator Mussolini, and then refuse to distance himself from the murdering, Italian monster.
- side with the Chinese government over Tianamen Square, where that same government murdered peaceful student protestors.
In just one weekend.
Where in the everlasting hell has the media been on all this?
Wondering whether or not Rubio went too far in joking about Trump wetting himself during last week’s debate.
When history books look back on this moment, they will not condemn the many Trump followers who wanted someone to fix Washington, who wanted someone to notice they were hurting, who wanted someone who didn’t look down on them.
Most of Trump’s supporters are people who are either sick of the BS of DC, or people who have been economically and culturally left behind and held in contempt.
History will not deem them unpatriotic.
But it will be a resounding rebuke to the media, who has stood by in trembling thrall to a growing monster.
Many of the most un-patriotic people in this country can be found on your morning news shows, your cable bobble heads, your apologetic editorialists who either know Trump and think he’s harmless, or don’t know him but want to stay out of his Twitter feed.
But they should ask themselves: at what point is pretending to be racist, pretending that dictators can be okay… at what point is that any different than actually being racist or actually admiring dictators!
There are ethnic and religious minorities who have to live in the neighborhoods and towns, amongst all those red-hat-wearing Trump supporters. And those minorities have to wonder if they are viewed only as abstractions of some larger point. Wonder if they are seen as “losers,” or some inhuman cog in the nexus keeping America from “winning.”
So to the media who enables Donald Trump:
Shame on you. All of you.
Photo: Flickr/Adam Tas