There's a lot to dislike about Donald Trump, but one of the big things his detractors point out is the ugly things he says about people. He's insulted women, the disabled, Latinos, along with many others. People have rightly criticized the cruelty of many of his remarks, and the shallow values he supports through these remarks.
On Thursday afternoon, I chanced to turn on the local Pacifica station, KPFK--Pacifica stations are unapologetic for their very liberal stances on just about anything. That's their right, of course, and it's good to have a diversity of opinions on the radio.
What struck me, however, was the way in which the two hosts were talking about conservative figures, specifically TV personality John Stossel and Republican pollster Frank Luntz. The KPFK hosts ripped into both men's sexuality, insulted their appearance, joked about their supposed inability to get laid, and so on. This is the station that celebrates diversity and routinely slams the Right for being too vanilla. They promote the notion that people should be judged for their ideas and values, not for their appearance, yet here were two righteous social justice warriors doing exactly what Trump does.
This is in no way a defense of Donald Trump--I find him to be a thoroughly detestable, inconsistent, and patronizing huckster. This is merely a look at the hypocrisy of some of his critics. You're not supposed to insult someone's appearance or their disabilities or anything else that can't be helped. That's what's called ad hominem, taking on an opponent by going after the person's character or behavior or appearance rather than their ideas. It's a cheap shot, a low blow, something that solves nothing and makes the critic look like a jerk. Alexander Pope wrote about this in his "Epistle to Arbuthnot" way back in the 18th century:
Curs'd be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
In a way, this exchange on the radio helped me understand Trump's appeal to many voters, but it also made me see why so many cringe at Trump's insults and mean Tweets. Some people like his brashness because it's not rehearsed and because he doesn't use the typical political sweet-talk. He pretty much shoots from the hip and sorts out the bodies later.
But don't we all do that to some extent? How many of those who are so quick to point out Trump's nasty tongue, are guilty of the exact same thing? If it's bad to insult Megyn Kelly for being a woman, isn't it also bad to insult Frank Luntz for not being Brad Pitt? Who's to say that he doesn't get any action just because of his appearance? And who's business is that anyway? How many of us trash someone we dislike or disagree with by insulting their looks or their sexual prowess or their intelligence? That makes us just the same as Trump--it makes us just as ugly, just as nasty, just as vile. Sure, he's running for President and we're not, but that's not an excuse to engage in ad hominem, and it proves that at least in that regard, we're not much better than he.
Trump's flaws are on display because he's in the public eye, but isn't he just an ugly mirror of our own flaws? Jesus said:
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
witty; cunning; crafty
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