Writing about the latest Donald Trump controversy, blogging professor Ann Althouse concluded…
This is either a revolting outrage or shocking incompetence.
Social media critics, Democrats, Jews here and in Israel and journalists who enjoy interpreting every Trump communication in the worst possible light were (and are) foaming with anger and indignation over the above re-tweet by The Donald, whose long-used press nickname is on the way to being officially changed to “The Lunkhead.” In case you are as insensitive and ignorant as he apparently is, that’s six-pointed star in the graphic, superimposed on a background of cash and referencing Hillary’s corruption. The six-pointed star, the Star of David, is associated with the Jewish people, culture and faith. When one links that symbol to money and corruption, you have the classic elements of anti-Jewish hate and bigotry. Here is a sampling of the online commentary on what some pleasantly refer to as Trump’s latest “unforced error”: The Verge, The American Spectator, The Atlantic, Hot Air, RedState, Raw Story, The Times of Israel, Gothamist, CBS New York, Mediaite, Little Green Footballs, and ThinkProgress.
Prof. Althouse is wrong in one respect. It’s not shocking incompetence. It’s expected, routine, characteristic incompetence by Trump, exactly the same kind of incompetence Trump exhibited in the recent Hispanic-American judge episode, when he suggested that a “Mexican” judge was probably biased against him. Trump’s comments then weren’t “racist” and more than his gratuitous tweet was anti-Semitic. (At this point, most of the mainstream media just states as fact that Trump made racist comments about an American judge of Hispanic descent. That’s how journalists roll these days: repeat a partisan distortion of the truth, then enter it in the fact book to pollute public understanding forever.)
[UPDATE: It’s already happening in the star controversy. Here’s Mediaite today: “He then insisted that the controversy over the image, a red Star of David surrounded by dollar bills, had been “ginned up” to draw attention away from the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server.” Lie. It was a Star of David only if that was what Trump intended it to represent. Stating this is assuming what is in controversy: Trump says the six-sided star was intended to represent a sheriff’s badge, and that is very plausible. Trump should have recognized that this symbol could be misconstrued, but that doesn’t mean it WAS a “Star of David.” Never mind. The lie is now fact.]
It’s obvious, or should be, that The Lunkhead and his team didn’t connect the red six-pointed star with its Jewish heritage, even though Trump apparently was re-tweeting a graphic from a white supremacy website, a gaffe Trump has made before. Why in the world would Trump intentionally step on the anti-Semitism landmine? [ Using my Time Machine, I see future Ethics Alarms posts about President Trump like “Why would the President intentionally blurt out “Fuck that!” at the United nations?” “Why would he intentionally cause a diplomatic incident by calling the Chinese president ‘my little yellow friend’?” “Why would he intentionally elevate tension with Iran by tweeting out ‘as a joke’ a photoshopped picture of Ali Khamenei in a bikini with a naked man sitting on his head?”]
Trump doesn’t do these things—all right, not most of these things— out of malice. We know this. He does them because he is incapable of thought. He does them because he has no impulse control, like a child. He does them because he’s ignorant. He does them because he’s an amateur, a fool, and despite his boast that he will “appoint the best people,” the fools he surrounds himself with are yes-men and yes-women who are as inexperienced and clue-deprived as he is.
He ‘s going to keep on making these gaffes, right up until he’s defeated, or, if by some sick twist of fate he is elected, right on through his first term, until it is cut short by impeachment, assassination, Armageddon, or the entire population immigrating to Canada and Mexico, leaving Trump to rule over a vast unpopulated expanse. The biased news media will continue to tell the public that they aren’t stupid mistakes but deliberate, pointless slurs.
At this point, the press’s characterization doesn’t matter, deliberately dishonest as it is. We are dealing with Hanlon’s Razor, which has many phrasings, such as “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity,” “Don’t assume malice when stupidity is an adequate explanation,” and “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” They all apply more directly to Donald Trump than any public figure in history. Indeed, Hanlon’s Razor sounds like it was devised to explain Donald Trump. It could be called “Trump’s Razor.” It should be called “Trump’s Razor.”
In choosing a leader, the fact that Hanlon’s Razor becomes relevant is enough. Malice or incompetence are unacceptable and disqualifying. Is Trump a bigot or a dummy? Who cares?
Anyone who is willing to place either in the White House is, well, a bigot or a dummy themselves.