By Ramzy Baroud
I fear that many of us are hating Donald Trump for the wrong reasons.
Multitudes are being swayed by mainstream media-inspired demonization of the new US president, based on selective assumptions and half-truths.
US mainstream media, which rarely deviates from supporting the American government’s conduct, however reckless, is now presenting Trump as if an aberration of otherwise egalitarian, sensible, and peace-loving US policies at home and abroad.
Trump may be described with all the demeaning terminology that one’s livid imagination can muster: evil, wicked, tyrannical, misogynist, war-mongering, rich buffoon, ‘insulting our allies’, infatuating with ‘dictators’, etc.
But do not miss the point.
If you chant in the street: ‘I am with her’, with reference to the defeated Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, it means that you are entirely missing the point.
To reminisce about the days of Barack Obama, his oratory skills, clean diplomacy and model, ‘relatable’ family, means that you have bought into the mass deception, the intellectual demagoguery, stifling group-think that pushed us to these extremes, in the first place.
And, within this context, ‘missing the point’, can be quite dangerous, even deadly.
It is interesting how the lives of Yemenis suddenly matter, referring to the US military botched a raid late last month against an alleged al-Qaeda stronghold in that country, killing mostly civilians.
A beautiful 8-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, was killed in the operation – planned under the Obama administration, but approved by Trump. Many chose to ignore that Nawar’s 16-year-old brother – both US citizens – was killed by the US military under Obama, a few years earlier.
Yemen has been a target in the US so-called ‘war on terror’ for many years. Many civilians have been killed, their deaths only being questioned by human rights groups, seldom mainstream media.
Yemen is one of the seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens are now being barred from entering the US by the ban.
The emotional mass response by hundreds of thousands of protesters rejecting such an abhorrent decision is heartening but also puzzling.
The US military, under Obama, has shied away from leading major wars but instigated, instead, numerous smaller conflicts.
“The whole concept of war has changed under Obama,” ‘LA Times’ quoted a Middle East expert.
Obama “got the country out of ‘war,’ at least as we used to see it,” Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said. “We’re now wrapped up in all these different conflicts, at a low level and with no end in sight.”
From a numerical context, the Obama administration has dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016 alone. Countries that were bombed included Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Somalia, five of the seven countries whose citizens are now denied entry by Trump.
The harm that Obama has done to devastate some of the poorest, war-torn countries on earth by far exceeds what Trump has done, so far.
Iraq and Libya were not always poor. Their oil, natural gas and other strategic reasoning made them targets for US wars, under four different administrations prior to Trump’s infamous arrival.
Libya was the richest in Africa, and relatively stable until Hillary Clinton decided otherwise. Clinton was Secretary of State during Obama’s first term in office.
In 2011, she craved for war. A ‘New York Times’ report citing 50 top US officials, left no doubt that Clinton was the ‘catalyst’ in the decision to go to war.
Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, furious about her support for a ‘broader mission’ in Libya, told Obama and Clinton that his army was already engaged in enough wars.
“Can I finish the two wars I’m already in before you guys go looking for a third one?” Gates had reportedly said.
Now, we are being led to believe that the war enthusiasts of the past are peacemakers, because Trump’s antics are simply too much to bear.
The hypocrisy of it all should be obvious, but some insist on ignoring it.
Party tribalism and gender politics aside, Trump is a mere extension and a natural progression of previous US administrations’ agendas that launched avoidable, unjust wars, embedded fear, fanned the flames of Islamophobia, hate for immigrants, etc.
There is hardly a single bad deed that Trump has carried – or intends to carry out – that does not have roots in another policy championed by previous administrations.
Trump’s intention to build a wall at the US-Mexico border is the brainchild of President Bill Clinton. In fact, when Clinton proposed the wall and a crackdown on illegal immigrants in his 1995 State of the Union address, the Democrats gave him a standing ovation.
As for Muslims, they have been an easy target for at least 20 years.
Muslims were mainly the target of the ‘Secret Evidence law’ in 1996, and ‘suspected’ Muslims were either jailed indefinitely or deported without their lawyers being informed of their charges.
It was then called the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, later expanded to give immigration authorities the right to deport even green card holding permanent residents.
Few protested the undemocratic, no due-process law – and the media barely covered it – as most of those held were Palestinian activists, intellectuals and university professors.
The 1996 Act morphed into the Patriot Act, following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The new Act undermined the very US Constitution, giving the government unprecedented domestic authority to arrest, detain people, and spy on whoever they wished, with no legal consequences.
The Obama administration had no qualms using and abusing such undemocratic, unconstitutional powers.
But where were the millions protesting ‘fascism’, as they are doing now? Was Obama simply too elegant and articulate to be called ‘fascist’, although he engendered the same domestic policy outlook as Trump?
Trump is extremely wealthy, but if one is to examine the US wealth inequality gap under Obama, one perceives some uncomfortable truth.
While the rich got richer under Obama, “inequality in America (grew) even at the top,” reports Inequality.org. In fact, the gap between the rich and the super-rich continued to expand, barely phased out by the Great Recession of 2008.
In 2014, a ‘Mother Jones’ headline summed up the tragic story of unfair distribution of wealth in America: “The Richest 0.1 Percent is About to Control More Wealth than the Bottom 90 Percent.”
Therefore, Trump is but merely one profiteer from an economy driven by real-estate gamblers and financial chancers.
The truth is, today’s political conflict in the US is not a clash over ‘values’, but an elites vs. elites war, par excellence.
It is also a war of brands.
Obama has spent eight years reversing George W. Bush’s bad brand. Yet, Obama has done so without reversing any of Bush’s disreputable deeds. On the contrary, he has redefined and expanded war, advanced the nuclear arms race and destabilized more countries.
Trump is also a brand, an unpromising one. The product – whether military aggressions, racism, islamophobia, anti-immigration policies, economic inequality, etc. – remains unchanged.
And that is the uncomfortable truth.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.