In a conversation a month ago with a female relative, I first heard the claim that—paraphrasing—Donald Trump is such an ignorant oaf that he thinks Frederick Douglass is alive today. (Douglass died in 1895.)
It was easy to find a video showing the event that was surely the seed for this lunatic assertion. It was from February 1, 2017—just weeks after Trump's inauguration—in a White House ceremony honoring black-history month. You can see the pertinent 44 seconds of video here and then read from the official transcript:
I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice—Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.
I've emphasized the single word that clearly launched this particular claim about Trump's broad-spectrum stupidity. OK, he should have said "was" instead of "is," but it's clear from the adjacent mentions of Martin King, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks and the subsequent phrasing ("... made America what it is today ..."—Got that? "made") that Trump was talking about history.
So let's throw the condemnation they reflexively direct at conservatives back at them: This is just another example of the Left being mean-spirited—eager to ignore context (another favorite word of theirs), so as to make even something as ethereal as this into a cudgel.
I expected my relative to view the video and acknowledge reality. But I heard nothing. Indeed, I have no idea if she's yet deigned to spend the necessary 44 seconds to view it.
So a couple of weeks after her Trump-slurring provocation, I left her a voicemail remonstrating over her failure to engage. She replied by email:
Since in my mind I have to be prepared for any conversation you and I have outside family and personal business, I’ll need time to put together some facts and examples of why it is I think Trump is such an unmitigatedly awful human being and such a danger (along with a number of Republicans) to our country.
That was on September 30, and the crickets have continued since then.
This episode is another example that supports a working hypothesis that I settled on a few years ago, based upon a similar incident with another relative: when it comes to public affairs, to a first approximation, liberals and leftists know nothing. (Oh yes, they think they know a lot ... but it's all based on hysteria from others in their hive.)
I dealt a bit with this phenomenon of baseless name-calling in October 2016, late during the last presidential-election cycle, via a VDARE.com blog, The Left Projects Its Own Rage, Fear, Paranoia, Bigotry, And—Wait For It!—Hate On Donald Trump, dubbing the phenomenon "breathing while Left."
I hadn't noticed anyone else calling out this phenomenon until just a few days ago, when a semi-anonymous blogger whose pseudonym is "Neo" commented on a contemporary article by Bari Weiss (famous for having noisily resigned from a high post at the New York Times in July)
This way of thinking isn’t just an idiosyncrasy of Weiss’. It is typical of someone in the throes of a strong cognitive dissonance that he or she cannot easily resolve. She hates Trump, but hates the danger on the left as well. What to do?
In the second and third paragraphs of that excerpt, Weiss exhibits her Trump hatred. As is typical of the writing of Democrats, including others who think of themselves as old-style liberals, Weiss doesn’t seem to feel the need to give a single specific example of how Trump has demonstrated these terrible qualities she’s writing about. We are to take them on faith. Surely, we already know – the science, as they say, is settled. It’s a tautology that: (a) Trump is an “obscenity” (b) he is worthy of disgust (c) he has “normalized” bigotry and cruelty; and (d) that said normalization has “crippled” American society.
This widespread aspect of Trump Derangement Syndrome is well-summarized in this cartoon.