Birds of a Feather | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Birds of a Feather


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While the world reels at the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, our own fuzzy-warm president is wishing he could eliminate his own critics so easily. President Donald Trump has gone as far as vocally embracing the concept that physical attacks on journalists are entirely justified. He recently publicly applauded last year's body-slam attack by incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, actually energizing a group of Montana-redneck-lemmings with the words, "Any guy that can do a body-slam—he's my kind of guy." Gianforte was found guilty and sentenced, but he's still ending up on Trump's hero list and might win on Tuesday. Tit-for-tat, maybe someone else should get body-slammed—and you all know who.

Showing his true colors, Trump declared of Khashoggi's assassins: "They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. Whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble." I silently gasped as Trump said it; there wasn't even a hint of compassion. Wow. One doesn't have to be an astute observer to grasp Trump's meaning: "If I'd had him killed, it would have been done in a very professional way."

True to form, Trump is carefully avoiding the fundamental moral question of Khashoggi's murder—the value of a human life—instead, focusing on what he sees as the practical realities of the modern world. To him, the only value is the road that leads to the greatest good, and that means, simply, the path to the dollars.

After all, this isn't just about the silencing of a notably outspoken journalist—one passionately motivated by the frank delivery of truth; it's about jobs; it's about maintaining friendship with a murderer; it's about keeping a vital ally in a region that threatens to be the site of a final Armageddon; and it's about birds of a feather flocking together. Trump's response is not at all an uncharacteristic position. Although applauded as the visible leader of the Christian Right, no American can voice surprise that their leader's only god is money. He's become so much more than the Clown President. It's no longer even remotely a laughing matter. The initial horror of his election has worn off, and it's no longer adequate to roll our eyes and try to overlook this WTF-abortion of a man.

The saddest part of this is that Americans have finally gotten the president we deserve. At first, I viewed the election of the Rabid Orange Raccoon as an unfortunate accident. I'm seeing it differently now. Think about it—isn't his total absence of conscience-driven morality what today's America is all about? Have we not either subscribed to his morally-vacuous (and often pernicious) leadership, or at least abdicated the righteous cry of conscience? After all, condemning the actions of a Saudi prince shouldn't interfere with the consummation of billions in military and business deals, should it? It seems that we're all growing comfortably accustomed to the notion that America doesn't have to stand on the moral high ground.

The idea that acquisition of wealth should be Machiavellian in nature—and that there should be no holds barred in our reach for the dollar—is exactly the model that Trump embodies. As a nation, it's hard to tell if anyone still gives a damn about the sometimes-rather-complicated concept of right and wrong. The sheer daily magnitude of what's wrong is crushing us all. "Wrong" is what's happening in our world, and America is becoming the center of it all.

It's no surprise that King Trump has a whopping level of empathy for Prince Mohammed bin Salman. They share so much in common, i.e. their humble beginnings and the fact that they are both self-made billionaires. Yeah, right!

Oh, yes, it's true: They hefted themselves to their current statuses by their own bootstraps, and they're not about to allow the truth to unseat them. Responsible, accurate journalism is, after all, a looming threat to any demagogue. As we know from Trump's historical dealings with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Benjamin Netanyahu, the more vicious the leader, the more Trump expresses his hero-worship. "I fell in love with the guy." And it's the king-of-the-mountain approach that led to Khashoggi being cut into little pieces. In a nutshell, it's the categorical imperative for a leader to kill anyone who threatens their throne.

I'm sure some of you are shaking your heads and asking, "So what?" Here's my answer: If we fail ourselves and our country by buying into the might-makes-right mantra of a morally defective leader, we will only have ourselves to blame. What's going to be here for our children and grandchildren who inherit a world in which money is the supreme being?

While the Khashoggi murder is only a symptom of the growing corruption of our world and its sick fixation on wealth, generations hence might find that the democracy we believed in is only a fleeting reference in a history book.

Don't forget who Trump is. Stand up for the moral high ground, for the minorities, for the women and the disadvantaged. Take back our nation by making a decisive stand in the midterm elections.

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