“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I Love the Poorly Educated” Donald Trump—February 23, 2016
There is an age-old adage, “where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.” It’s from “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” by Thomas Gray, written in 1742. In this poem, Gray longs for the days of his carefree youth when he was unconcerned by the harsh and ugly realities of responsibility and adult life.
The 45th President of the United States is on his first trip abroad and it is embarrassing to see the “leader of the world” performing so poorly on the world stage. American media found that candidate Donald Trump’s ignorance, xenophobic rhetoric and hypocrisy was good for ratings during the election. Now, as president it is a shameful representation of America.
Candidate Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “Islam hates us…there’s a tremendous hatred there…it’s hard to separate (“radical” Islam from Islam itself).” As a stalwart supporter of the “Birther” movement Candidate Trump fanned the flames of Islamophobia by inferring that President Obama could be a secret Muslim. He told Fox News: “He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim…”
Now, as President, Trump stands before the world in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia “..to deliver a message of friendship and hope”, instead of his usual hatred and vitriol. He said, “Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.”
This is an interesting statement considering that since being elected President Trump has been unsuccessful implementing his Muslim “ban”. He has been one of the progenitors of anti-Muslim violence and hatred through his hyperbolic rhetoric and proposed unconstitutional policies. He told the Saudis that he wants to defeat terrorism and the ideology that drives it. However, while he made reference to “America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks — from the atrocities of September 11th …” he failed to include the fact that, “Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.” The hypocrisy is nauseating.
He also stated, “The true toll of ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.”
While this is a reasonable sentiment, you have to wonder if Trump understood his audience. It is well known that Saudi Arabia has been funding the Taliban and other terrorist organizations for years. According to The New York Times, “A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents…Playing multiple sides of the same geopolitical equation is one way the Saudis further their own strategic interests, analysts and officials say.”
According to CNN, while heaping praise upon Trump’s “successful” trip to Saudi Arabia, Wilbur Ross, Trump’s Commerce Secretary, stated that he found it “fascinating” that there was not a “single hint” of protest during Trump’s visit to the kingdom.
“Not one guy with a bad placard,” Ross observed. Ross failed to mention or possibly is ignorant of the fact that protesting in Saudi Arabia is a criminal offense punishable by beheading or having your arms cut off with a sword. Saudis think twice about protesting publicly in a country that still holds public executions.
Trump flew from Saudi Arabia to Israel where he discussed brokering a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. According to Slate, while in Israel he told a room of Israelis that he “Just got back from the Middle East.” How can he broker a deal in a region when he does not understand the geography of the region and has no idea of where he is?
From Israel, Trump went to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis; the same pontiff he insulted in 2016: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful…No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.” (Ironic coming from the same man who questioned President Obama’s religion and faith.) This was all in response to the Pope saying, Trump’s policy of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico was not Christian. I wonder, if the Pope can’t question one’s commitment to religion or faith, who can?
While meeting with the Pope, Trump gave him a first-edition set of Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings. I wonder if Trump himself has ever actually read anything by Dr. King. If so, he should make note of Dr. King’s speech “The Three Evils of Society” wherein King says “We are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness…” a sickness that “has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning…” those being “the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism” and considering the three problems as the “plaque of western civilization.”
This is critical as Americans digest Trump’s 2016 proposed budget that according to The NY Times, calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent ($54B) for 2018…and over the next decade, slashes more than $800 billion from Medicaid, slices $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs.
President Trump’s next stop was a visit to NATO in Brussels. It’s important to remember that in January of 2017, Trump said during an interview with the European Press (of all entities) of NATO “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago…Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.”
Trump changed his tune in an April 2017 meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenber. Trump said, “The secretary general and I had a productive conversation about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism…I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change. Now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” It sounds as though Trump was schooled by the Secretary General and realized how wrong he was.
According to AP, presenters at NATO and the G-7 Summits have been directed to keep their briefings to a minimum and to use lots of pictures so that Trump does not lose interest. It’s as though the US has sent a seventh-grader with ADD to the Summits instead of the POTUS.
In spite of these realities, Trump’s core supporters remain loyal while the ranks of his detractors are growing. According to the latest CBS poll, Trump’s approval rating stands at 40.4%, and his disapproval rating stands at 54%. “Those who do remain firmly behind the president today say it’s partly because he is under fire, believing that Mr. Trump needs their support fighting ‘the establishment’ now more than ever, and agreeing that he is indeed the subject of a political witch hunt and unfair coverage.”
This is frightening. With all that President Trump says and does, 40% of Americans stand with him and believe he is under attack from the “establishment”.
I guess ignorance really is bliss and one can see why Trump loves the poorly educated. As Voltaire wrote, “Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power.”
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the author of Politics Another Perspective, Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: [email protected]. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2017 InfoWave Communications, LLC