The Latest Trump Embarrassment: You See, Donald, Hanlon’s Razor Provides No Protection To Presidential Candidates…

Star of David

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.

12 thoughts on “The Latest Trump Embarrassment: You See, Donald, Hanlon’s Razor Provides No Protection To Presidential Candidates…

  1. I kind of like this variant from the wiki article on Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.” Sort of the equivalent of “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me.”

  2. Never assume malice when stupidity offers an explanation; The moment it was pointed out to trump that the star could be interpreted to be anti-semetic, he pulled the image and immediately reposted the same image, except the star had been changed to a circle.

    We had a similar scandal a couple years back here in Winnipeg; Our mayor at the time, Sam Katz, had a… disturbing tendency to offer untendered contracts to companies like Shindico. I’d be genuinely surprised if there wasn’t some amount of corruption involved, there were other indicators… But I can’t prove it. Regardless, someone more certain than me connected some dots and circulated a pamphlet to educate the populace about our mayor’s shady dealings. The problem was that he titled the pamphlet “Shitler’s List.” And then the very legitimate conversation was immediately lost in the very real anti-semitism on display.

    Trump might actually be right here. I can’t think of a candidate so obviously corrupt in American history (World history: Not even close, but American history….) But that’s not the conversation we’re having, we’re talking about a god damned clipart star. Anyone who says Donald Trump is a good communicator should hide their head in a sack.

  3. I think this is an example of shocking incompetence more than anything else. The Jewish star is composed of two intertwined triangles rather than a six pointed red star of which there are five on Chicago’s flag. Of course Trump’s critics are going to imply he’s trying to link Hillary with an international Jewish cabal. This is kind of funny considering a high percentage of Clinton Cash
    Comes from Middle Eastern Countries.

  4. Well, the six-point Star of David has room inside of it to put words like “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Five-point stars don’t have so much inside room. The six-point star gets Jews’ attention, so check-off that. Why red? Possibly because Hillary took blood money from enemies of the Jewish State. I laugh, imagining the tsunami of offense that would have been taken if Donald had used a red rectangle instead, with a rainbow flag border.

  5. I find this a strange case overall. Like so many of the issues which come up and get ‘memed’ all over the place, I always notice the undercurrents and the depths, also the unstated elements. I gain a certain enjoyment as the one who can say things no one else can. (I was like that as a child in fact and get into lots of hotwater always).

    Even prepare oneself to make a judgment or assessment here requires alot of back-tracking and setting the stage. Much preamble.

    It is not very likely that Trump is a judenhasser. Well, unless you start from the supposition that he is a living and walking lie. If you DO start from that position, well then, anything is possible. (This touches on Father of Lies mythologies and such, naturally).

    He has a child who ‘convoited’, he had AIPAC almost writhing in the aisles in glee when he gave his completely pro-Israel speech a few months back. (I thought a mass-orgy was going to take place and they’d have to hose them down). He has been working intimately with the NY structures for 2 generations and deals with Jews all the time. Safe to say he is philosemitic

    The implication though is that he played on his consituencies ‘non-judeo-philia’, that is their mild or strong judenhass. (I do not use the word ‘antisemite’ but rather ‘judenhasser’ (Jew hater), and also Judaeo-philic and non-Judaeo-philic. You HAVE to allow a position that allows for a critique of Jews, Judaism, their religion, their presence in Europe and anywhere, their activities, their influence and presence in history. I have researched fairly extensively all of this and am of the opinion that NO ONE today knows and can state what either ‘antisemitism’ of non-philo-judaism is, not in its historical depth. What this means is that criticism has been eliminated both from the mind and from the world of ideas. It means that people cannot think their actual thoughts. It is mind-control and it is dangerous. This has all been ‘produced’ in the post-war era. It was not so before.

    So, did someone in Trump’s campaign deliberately include a star of David superimposed over dollar bills? The trope is simply one that exists. There is nothing more cliche than ‘a Jew and his money’. But, and in America today, and here on this blog, and in almost all upstanding sectors of cyberspace, one is not allowed to have any critical position of Jews. Up to a point some criticism of Israel is allowed but even that has a limit. Everyone knows, and especially every Gentile, that you cannot cross a certain line. If you do you will be destroyed. It’s as simple as that.

    Yet this narrative exists. But it is submerged, pushed underground, repressed. Yet it is there. And it is there among a large percentage of Americans and Europeans. How large? That is very hard to say.

    It would not be possible for any Jew to look at the star of David over a mountain of hundred dollar bills and to not ‘read’ the message. That some Tweet-underling who had been delgated the graphics responsibility had missed this symbolic connection and the impact it would immediately have had seems nearly impossible. But you never know. Yet I do not think Trump made the choice. It does not stand to reason.

    But what is 1000 times more interesting is that — this I predict — in the coming years we will notice the ‘unraveling of established narratives’. These are a series, a group, a network, of narratives cobbled together in the postwar era. They may be true, they may be part-true, they may be part-false and even completely false, but they are now going to be submitted to a sustained ‘counter-current’. Well, that is what it seems like to me. Our world has been established through these ‘narratives’. It is a bizarre and rather scary project to come to terms with that. The determining mental landscape sits on top of a more real and more visceral ‘real’ landscape. And when the two do not concord, the Weird Sisters appear on the heath …

    Now, the European Right and the Alt/Right, as well as the American Right (but usually the so-called ‘extreme right’) has indeed a critical position of ‘the Jewish project’ as an historical process. That is just a fact. I suggest that it has to be read, processed and understood and cannot merely be rejected as ‘antisemitism’ (although some will say that I must he a ‘self-hating Jew’ who anyway is some sort of ‘converso’).

    But these oppositional stances, these counter-narratives, these dark and dangerous ideas, exist and they also live in people. Thus a conection between power at the highest levels, the various presidencies in the post-war era, and the structure of economics and politics and cultural definition is completely with Jews and Jewish concerns. And thus the image, negative and hot and prejudiced as it is, exists in people’s minds. In your mind, Dear Reader.

    This is just a fact. You can deal with it as a fact, or not. But the fact exists.

    And in this way it is not the ‘surface’ here that is interesting but what lies under the surface. This is a strange and dangerous time. It is like there has not been an earthquake in an earthquake zone for 100 years and the air is crackling. Dogs howl for no reason and dig holes in the crawlspace. Lightening flashes out of a clear sky. I am waiting for portents to appear in the sky …


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