It’s complicated, this sh*t show we’re calling the 2016 Presidential Election for months! If we were all Jews we’d be calling this a shanda fur die goyim. For non-clickers, the term refers to doing something which, as a Jew, will embarrass all of us in front of non-Jews. It fits for Americans, too, and I wonder whether there’s any shame at all about how poorly we look in a world that looks up to us.
With that thought shared, I need to credit Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) for crystalizing an issue that has been scattered in my mind for a while. (Everybody—he has very few supporters left—calm down; I’m not supporting my senator, it’s time for him to take it easy, and with some effort and people showing up in November, my new senator will be Ann Kirkpatrick.)
So what about Senator McCain? He wrote Salute to a Communist, which appeared in the New York Times on March 24. It’s a tribute to Delmer Berg, who died on February 28, 2016. Mr. Berg was a volunteer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of Americans who fought for the elected Spanish government, and against the Fascists led by General Francisco Franco. (When Richard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), proprietor of Rick’s Café Américain in the movie Casablanca, explains his having fought for the wrong side in Spain in 1938, he’s talking about having been on the side of the Leftist government that Mr. Berg, a Communist until the day he died, fought for.)
So what? Sorry for getting lost a bit, but the point is that the world is complex. In 1938 Spain faced a choice between Communists and Fascists. For almost 80 years, most people throughout the world have looked with favor on the Leftists in that battle.
In 2001-3, the United States government saw evil Muslims. There is little evidence to support the notion that the Bush Administration appreciated the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims, much less anything more nuanced than “two groups / both bad.”
The world is a really complex place. The “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” construct left us lots of years ago, if it ever really meant anything.
Unfortunately, during this campaign for the keys to the kingdom, one side sees “simple” everywhere. A 2000 mile wall. Sending 11,000,000 people home. Gold as a monetary standard. If there’s enough snow to make a snowball, climate change is a hoax. Etc.
David Brooks, in his March 18, 2016 column, No, Not Trump, Not Ever, told us “[Donald Trump] insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.” True dat, but it’s worse.
Senator McCain’s observations about Delmer Berg and the Spanish Civil War support the ready conclusion that the world is a complicated place. Unfortunately, there’s not even a hint of “complicated” from Mr. Trump or his primary competitor, Senator Ted Cruz (T-Tex.) Instead, we’re getting shit about “your wife” and lots more.
Forgive me, please, but the country in which I was born, and the one I cannot afford to leave, leads a complicated world. Nuance is real, and it matters. Bluster is BS, and too much of it passes for policy in 2016. If the 2X-removed Republican Party nominee for President of the United States—which, by the way, carries with it the title of Leader of the Free World—can appreciate an individual who was a Communist and, at the same time, on the right side of an almost 80-year-old civil war on another continent, Americans ought to be able to appreciate just how far we fall when we listen to the crap offered up by the likes of Trump, Cruz, et al.*
Anyone who cares about representative democracy in America should be worried, big-time, about what we face in the coming months. It is, truly, a Shanda fur die goyim.
*To his credit, Senator McCain spoke up for Delmer Berg. I don’t think many people in his party in Arizona read the hated New York Times frequently, but it counts for something that Senator McCain spoke up while he faces a tough reelection fight in a state where his party regulars may dislike him more than do those in the other party.