FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Unpatriotic is Donald Trump?

Samuel Johnson famously considered patriotism “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” His biographer James Boswell, who passed along that judgment, clarified that Johnson “did not mean a real and generous love for our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest.”

This could be describing Donald Trump. And yet the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan theorized in an April 2016 column that Trump’s major appeal to Republican voters came not from his adherence to any political ideology, but rather from his radiant patriotism which has, in her view, been absent from the political status quo. “What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him,” she wrote, “is that he is on America’s side.”

There is little in Trump’s rambling off-the-cuff speeches and media interviews, or in his reactionary stream-of-conscious tweets, that demonstrate his understanding of patriotism. Trump is a snake oil salesman, and he is arguably in the midst of his greatest pitch to date. Smart consumers should do their research to find out the truth about the “product” they are being sold by Mr. Trump.

Here are some examples of where the real estate plutocrat comes up short on patriotism.

*Peeved by The Washington Post’s coverage of his presidential campaign and their investigation of the details surrounding his grand claims, Trump has revoked the paper’s press credentials for attending his rallies and political events. He has also banned reporters from Politico, Univision, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post and others. What’s patriotic about muffling the free press when you are running for the highest office in the land?

*Despite lofty rhetoric about “bringing jobs home,” Trump has used cheap foreign production in China and Bangladesh for his signature clothing brands. “They don’t even make this stuff here,” the ever-defensive Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos when questioned about it. Stephanopoulos informed Trump that Brooks Brothers clothing does, does, in fact, “make this stuff” here. What’s patriotic about making profits on the backs of poorly paid foreign workers who are often suffering under dictatorial rule?

*Big talker Trump has claimed to have given millions of dollars to many different charities over the years. According to a recent Washington Post investigation, he’s given far, far less than he’s boasted―and far less than other billionaires of his (alleged) comparable wealth. Most of his donations have come through the Trump Foundation, to which he has donated little of his own fortune. All in all, over the past seven years, the Post reports that Trump has personally given less than $10,000 to charities. What’s patriotic about lying about your own philanthropy?

*One of Trump’s more preposterous statements has been calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Drawing much justified criticism, Trump has been pressured into clarifying and restating his position. He now claims that only immigration from “terrorist countries” would fall under his proposed ban. He also stated last fall that he was “open” to the idea of creating an Orwellian database of all Muslims living in the United States. Is accusatory language of ethnic stereotyping reflective of our patriotic traditions? The inscription on the Statue of Liberty is: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Is repudiating Lady Liberty patriotic?

*Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency has been based upon the supposed strength of his talent and judgment as a businessman and dealmaker. These skills, however, are not totally verifiable, since Trump refuses to release his tax returns. Trump has managed to avoid any severe blows to his personal wealth by strategically insulating himself from failed corporate business endeavors. He has bragged that he “used, brilliantly,” corporate bankruptcy as a competitive advantage. When Trump fails, only the little guys suffer. Not exactly reflecting the last words of the pledge of allegiance―”with liberty and justice for all.”

*Last year, Donald Trump shamefully criticized Senator John McCain who spent over five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. The ever-brash Trump dismissed McCain’s extraordinary ordeal, claiming: “He’s not a war hero.” Trump continued, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Is degrading the suffering of an American veteran patriotic?

Unlike McCain, Trump did not serve in the Vietnam War. He has gone on the record, however, for making a different kind of sacrifice. Trump described his romantic escapades in the 1980’s as his “personal Vietnam” due to how he put himself at risk of sexually transmitted diseases. He told Howard Stern that this made him feel “like a great and very brave soldier.”

*“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Ronald Schnackenberg, a former employee of the unaccredited Trump University, stated in testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.” Indeed, much of the information that has come to light about Donald Trump’s “university” reveals that it was little more than a scam meant to drain people of their money while promising them success. Cornered by the allegations, Trump resorted to accusing Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, who is scheduled to hear the class action suit in November, of being “a hater” of his due to his Mexican ethnicity. Are these the words of man who loves America or those of a con man caught with his hand in the cookie jar?

*Since starting his bid for the presidency, Donald Trump has produced a veritable Trump Tower of outrageously false statements. According to the nonpartisan Politifact, nearly 80% of the statements made by Donald Trump fall under the categories of Mostly False, False, or “Pants on Fire.” His campaign won the distinction of 2015 Politifact Lie of the Year for its entire spider web of deceptions. What’s patriotic about chronically lying when you’re running for the presidency of the United States?

So what does it truly mean to be patriotic? My parents defined it quite simply. They taught my siblings and me that loving one’s country meant working hard to make it more lovable. This means working to end poverty, discrimination, corruption, greed, cheating and other injustices that weaken the promise and potential of America.

See this video that explains how my father, an immigrant, viewed patriotism.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail