It was revealed yesterday by philanthropist Richard Branson that he was invited “Some years ago” by Donald Trump to “lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan,” where he was subjected to Trump’s bizarre revenge fantasies. According to Branson,
“Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.”
The two men had never met before.
It is no wonder Trump’s supporters act like they do. Hate trickles down in the Trump campaign, if the money does not. If the whole has a bit of the surreal to it, it has more horror, as those who have criticized Trump have learned to their cost.
And you don’t have to like the National Review‘s politics or even writer David French to feel some sympathy for what he has been subjected to. After all, it was David French last week who claimed it was Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, exploiting voter ignorance.
French writes in “The Price I’ve Paid for Opposing Trump,” that “Trump’s alt-right trolls have subjected me and my family to an unending torrent of abuse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
French is not alone, of course, We’ve seen countless stories like this, including, prominently, Red State‘s Erik Erickson and Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald, both of whom have not only been subject to attack but has seen his families attacked by Trump supporters for speaking out against their hero.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s called “race-cucking” or “raising the enemy.”
We are supposed to believe that Trump supporters are not racist or anti-Semitic, but here the two exist within the context of a single attack. When Hillary Clinton called these people “deplorables” she was being kind. The false outrage was all too typical.
And it wasn’t just French’s daughter who was attacked. They went after his wife as well, claiming she “had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.”
(Sex abuse survivor Nancy French’s own powerful account of lessons learned from 2016 can be found here at The Washington Post)
French writes that,
“I share my family’s story not because we are unique or because our experience is all that extraordinary, but rather because it is depressingly, disturbingly ordinary this campaign season. The formula is simple: Criticize Trump — especially his connection to the alt-right — and the backlash will come.”
What Richard Branson saw some years ago was not an isolated incident but Trump’s business model, and what we are seeing now is that his followers take their queue from their leader. Trump accuses Mexico of sending their worst people, but what Trump has done is find the worst people among us, and unleashed them on anyone who would challenge his authority.
I have to laugh when people accuse me of opposing Trump because it somehow makes me rich, or because I’m currying favors with guests at the “elite” cocktail parties that I never actually attend. I oppose Trump not just because he’s an ignorant demagogue and a naked political opportunist, but also because bigotry and intimidation cling to his campaign. Every campaign attracts its share of fools, cranks, and crazies. But Trump’s candidacy has weaponized them. Every harassing tweet and every violent threat is like a voice whispering in my ear, telling me to do all that I can to oppose a movement that breeds and exploits such reckless hate.
And that is precisely what he has done: Trump has weaponized the crazies. Our realization that decades of Republican propaganda not only made the ground fertile for Trump, but gifted him with supplies of weaponized crazies (some of them on Fox News), and a weaponized Bible as well, might lead us to think that they’re getting what they deserve; but nobody deserves this.
Trump has let the deplorables out of the closet where monsters are kept, and we may never get them back in. If Trump has mainstreamed white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and made racism acceptable again, he has also mainstreamed trolls. The normative has been turned on its head, and we aren’t going to restore what was simply by shaking our heads.
As Nancy French writes, “The GOP once was alive but is now dead” and become an extension of the “trump Empire.”
French’s column is well worth reading, as is his wife’s, and recommended to anyone who cares about what Trump, win or lose, has already done to our country.
Hillary Clinton says, “When they go low, we go high,” and going high should include standing up against this sort of behavior, no matter against whom it is directed.