If only historians had warned us . . .


I wish I could stay away from Trump, but he makes it so difficult. I’m going to post this, and then honestly try to stay away from him for the rest of the week. We have much else to talk about, like the return of Mercy Street, so I’d really like for this to be my only Trump tirade for the week. (Work with me on this, Donald).

As many people expected, the Women’s March on Saturday was enormous and a smashing success that overshadowed the comparatively paltry turnout for the inauguration. I do not need to repeat all the things that have been said about the historical event, but I saw a story today that some of you might have missed. The signs that were left behind in Boston have been saved by some history profs that saw the need to preserve and digitize them for future researchers. Awesome idea! Hopefully similar efforts will be made with the signs from DC and all the other “sister marches.”

Meanwhile, Comrade Trump again seems intent on proving all us historians correct when we asserted that he has authoritarian tendencies that echo those of history’s autocrats, dictators, oligarchs, and various other like-minded and nefarious thugs. As we know, Trump followed up the “most dreadful inaugural address ever” (as conservative Republican commentator George Will memorably labeled it) by basically announcing on day one of his presidency that he was engaged in a war with the media (his words), tried to tell us that the media was lying about something we all saw clearly with our own eyes, and sent his folks out to spread “alternative facts.” He also declared that his riff with the intelligence community was a product of the lying media, yet we all saw him mock and compare them to Nazi Germany.  This is all a clear sign that, as we have known all along, the man is a compulsive liar and that we can’t trust ANYTHING he says.

Oh, and speaking of lies, you guys recall how the Great Deceiver  whipped up his crowds with chants of “lock her up!” and promised in a debate that he would prosecute Hillary once in office? We all knew that was crap, but did you notice that just after being sworn in, he publicly praised Hillary and said he had great respect for her and Bill? Doesn’t sound like someone that is about to investigate and lock her up, does it? Hey, Trump supporters, HE LIED TO YOU, the very people that trust him the most. This is provable. Why do you keep trusting him??

Anyway, now today, we learn that several agencies have been instructed that they can not communicate with the public. This is all scary stuff that is all too much like what history’s bad, bad, men have done in their first steps to form tyrannical autocracies. Listen, we all know that presidents have not always been honest with the press and have endeavored to deceive them (and that’s almost all of them, if we are fair and objective). So this is not as unprecedented as the press is making it out to be.  But when we have one that is openly declaring “war” on the press, calling them “the most dishonest people on earth,” trying to tell us that what we saw with our own eyes is not true,  and is issuing orders to keep his departments from communicating with us, that is altogether different and dangerous.

Politico has a fine piece on how Trump’s lies have to be taken seriously, because they could actually endanger lives. An excerpt: “This weekend, it was crowd size. By next week, it could be how many troops were killed, and who was responsible for the attack. Or how successful the American response was. Or whether there is an actual threat to homeland security that requires government action. Or even a dispute with a foreign government over a sensitive detail in negotiations.” The article goes on to quote an esteemed historian: “There are narcissists who think anything they do is right and anything they say [is right and they are] not persuaded by evidence — that is what is frightening,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who met with Trump during the transition. “When you’re saying something that is brazenly false and expecting your followers to adhere to it, that’s a dictator. That is not an American president.”

We all know that “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” right? If ONLY there had been people that make it their living to study history so that they could have warned us before he got elected! Oh wait, there are such people and they did warn. What was remarkable about those warnings is that they came from an overwhelming number of historians and a broad range of them all across the political spectrum. As one of my good friends and colleagues said the other day, it is not like Howard Zinn was the only one saying this stuff!” Pay attention folks, this man is already taking a dark path in just the first few days of his presidency, and seems intent on telling us exactly what we should think. If we start hearing about him forming his own organization to pass along information to us so that he can bypass the press, start packing your bags.

Oh but wait!, he says he wants to kick the press out of the White House so that he can put them in a bigger room where more reporters can have access (and in the meantime, is adding “Skype seats” to the room). Don’t be fooled, my friends, if that happens it will be so that he can limit access to his administration, get “alternative” news groups into press conferences to cheer him and laugh at his outrageous statements, ask what he wants them to, and toss him softballs. Count on it.

I have been wondering what event will be the first one in which we see the Putin Puppet use troops against American citizens, and now with today’s news I think we might be setting the stage for that event. His executive order (where are all those people that were so upset about Obama’s use of executive orders?) in regards to the Dakota Pipeline is sure to trigger a new round of protests. What happens if the Army Corps of Engineers then decides to reverse its decision about finding an alternative route for the pipeline, and it starts again encroaching on Native American lands? You can bet the protestors will be there to stop it, and then what? Stay tuned.

Now, please, Donald, don’t do anything for the rest of the week that provokes another one of my completely useless tirades. I really want to talk about Mercy Street (the Journal of the Civil War Era has asked me to write a review for their blog, so stay tuned) and almost ANYTHING else.

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