Valley News Forum for Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023: Trump’s authoritarian language

Published: 11-18-2023 6:00 AM

Authoritarian language, out in the open

I have a question for those who attended the Trump rally in Claremont last Saturday. (“ ‘Harsh’ Trump thrills crowd” (Nov. 13) Did you cheer when Trump vowed to “root out Communists, Marxists, racists, and radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country”? What were your thoughts upon reading his statement regarding immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country”? Do you endorse his plans to deputize local police officers and implement sweeping raids, sprawling detention camps and mass deportations?

The quote from Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller appears fitting here: “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; and then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then... they came for me... and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

It’s worth noting that Niemöller initially supported Hitler and the Nazi Party in the early 1930s, neglecting to defend the groups listed in the quote due to his disagreement with leftist political movements. It was only when Hitler began interfering with the Protestant Church that Niemöller opposed him, leading to eight years in Nazi prisons and concentration camps.

I implore you to open your eyes. This is not merely “harsh” campaign oratory, as the Valley News headline suggests, nor is it simply “rough around the edges.” This is the openly authoritarian rhetoric of a would-be dictator.

Please, heed Niemöller’s warning: silence in the face of injustice only empowers it. Speak out now against authoritarianism, uphold our shared humanity, and leave a legacy of courage in the face of adversity.

Kim Frost

Etna

A divisive leader

“ ‘Harsh’ Trump thrills crowd” (Nov. 13) left out the harsh realities of Trump’s speech at Stevens High School.

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I went to Stevens on Saturday to protest. There was a very small group of us. The crowd waiting in line was quiet until they spotted us and our Biden signs. We were met with a chorus of “F--- Joe Biden.” OK, I get it. We had a right to be there and so did they, though it was a little unnerving to have such hateful language directed our way.

Sunday, the news stories came out and revealed what Trump said inside the school. This is one quote from the New York Times: “Former President Donald J. Trump, … promised to honor veterans in part by assailing what he portrayed as America’s greatest foe: the political left.

Using incendiary and dehumanizing language to refer to his opponents, Trump vowed to “root out” what he called “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

I was furious. Trump was using Nazi talk to rile up people. What if our group had been outside the venue after Trump used such incendiary language? Would folks try to root the “vermin” out? Would things have gotten violent?

A good leader unites people and inspires respect and dignity. We can never be united in America with Trump. He is divisive. He inspires hatred.

Wake up America and do not be duped by Trump.

Char Osterlund

Springfield,Vt.

Time to stand up to Trump

On Saturday Nov. 11, a man facing 91 separate indictments for the commission of serious crimes came to Claremont and incited his crowd to favor state-sponsored murder as punishment for selling drugs. As a retired Superior Court judge, and a former state senator, we object, as strongly and loudly as we can.

The Granite State rejected the death penalty after years of informed deliberation. We have debated at length the basic injustice of using the death penalty. We know that as a tool in the hands of prosecutors, the death penalty can be, and is used to force defendants into guilty pleas rather than run the risk of being executed. People who may have a real defense are denied that defense and are instead faced with an impossible choice — the slim chance to be proven innocent versus a grim likelihood of death.

The man facing 91 indictments asked his audience if they would favor killing people who sell drugs. He clearly intended to whip up his crowd by throwing out the prospect of blood sport, white, black and brown blood. His incitement was appalling because he intended to offer up death for innocent people, and particularly minority people of color, all as a way of inflaming his followers. He didn’t even begin to address the horrors that might flow from his suggestion.

What does it mean to “sell drugs.” Is that a 17-year-old giving a buddy four joints for five bucks? Or is it instead an 80-year-old vet selling some of his pain meds to cover the cost of food or rent? Definitions become very important when death is in the equation.

As a community, we are becoming immune to the horror that Mr. 91 Indictments throws out. This must not be allowed to continue. All the fear and anxiety we share about what this guy will do if elected needs to become our outrage and rejection of him. Lawyers, doctors, members of the religious community, working men and women, neighbors and friends: there is no more time to lay back and whimper. It’s time to stand up against this man and his fascist plan for the death of our democracy. It’s time for all of us to say “nevermore.”

Judge Jean K. Burling, retired

State Senator Peter Hoe Burling, retired

Cornish

Death penalty for whom?

Summary execution for drug dealers? (“ ‘Harsh’ Trump thrills crowd”; Nov. 13)

How about summary execution for someone who rapes women in department store dressing rooms? How about summary execution for someone who commits adultery with multiple porn stars, and pays large amounts of money to cover it up? How about summary execution for someone who falsifies his medical records to avoid serving his country? How about summary execution for someone who steals classified documents and leaves them laying around for anyone, including foreign nationals, to see or steal? How about summary execution for someone who inflates the value of his property many times over to get more money from banks? How about summary execution for someone who stiffs the contractors who build his buildings? How about summary execution for someone who foments a march on the U.S. Capitol? How about summary execution for someone who causes the death of multiple members of the Capitol Police? How about summary execution for someone who incites a crowd to chant “Hang Mike Pence?” How about summary execution for someone who is on trial for 91 separate felonies, and counting? How about summary execution for someone who attempts to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election? How about summary execution for someone who attempts to destroy the foundations of our democracy, and turn our country into an autocracy along the lines of Russia, China or Saudi Arabia, with him in charge?

How about summary execution for someone who does all of these things, and more?

Dick Nelson

Lebanon

Wanted: A president
for all Americans

“In honor of our great Veterans,” former President Trump pledged during his Nov. 11 rally in Claremont to root out those he considers to be Marxists, racists, radical left thugs and vermin intent on destroying the American dream. Veterans vowed to support him despite his telling top military officers “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies,” calling fallen Veterans “suckers and losers,” and consistently dismantling financial protections during his administration for service members and their families. Supporters cheered him on “no matter what he says” and others prefer to have an entertainer-in-chief rather than a president who truly loves America. Trump, despite the critically important issues impacting our lives, instead lamented the unfairness of his many legal woes, and vowed to restore the many bans that harshly impacted so many lives.

When Hillary Clinton, in 2016, referred to many Trump supporters as “deplorables”, the GOP and supporters were outraged! I have Republican neighbors and we greet each other during our neighborhood walks, sometimes discussing politics, but more often we stop to pet the dogs, laugh with grandchildren and compare the progress of our gardens. I never thought of my neighbors as deplorable and respected their views and their right to hold them, as they did for me. This is my community. However, I did consider the man who drove a Trump and gun-power logo’d truck past my home that displayed my support for Democratic candidates, slowing down to shout obscenities and give a lady in her 70s the finger, deplorable.

I love my town, state and country and I am proudly politically active supporting the Democratic Party. No party is perfect, but I prefer to believe that no matter what our political beliefs are that we all want “a more perfect union” to pursue our hopes and happiness for ourselves and generations to come. I will not accept the angry vitriol Trump presents at his rallies. I will not consider myself to be “vermin.” I will support a president who stands up and declares that he or she is a president for all Americans. Like it used to be.

Kathleen Eames

Chair, Charlestown Democrats

Unfit to lead

The article about Donald Trump’s recent rally in Claremont (“ ‘Harsh’ Trump Thrills Crowd”; Nov. 13) was deeply disturbing because it underscored his threat to the future of American democracy. Trump again showed himself to be a classic authoritarian — belittling democratic institutions, ridiculing anyone who seeks to hold him accountable for his lies and reckless behavior, and vowing revenge against his enemies, real and imagined — if he is reelected. For these reasons, Trump is morally, intellectually and temperamentally unqualified to be president.

Those disqualifying factors are evident in his failure to understand or follow the rule of law. That failure shows itself most plainly in his persistent and baseless claims that he was unfairly denied the presidency in 2020 and did nothing wrong in trying to reverse what he saw as a “rigged” outcome.

But Trump’s unfitness for the presidency is also reflected in his simple-minded, off-target prescriptions for complex public policy problems. The United States needs immigrants to compensate for the low birth rate among native-born Americans, yet Trump wants to build a wall to keep them out, as if a wall would suffice in this high-tech age. And even though, in the years since 1973, 195 people have been wrongly convicted of murder, sentenced to death, and later exonerated and released, Trump would broaden the death penalty — which is prone to mistakes and misconduct — by extending it to drug dealers.

Donald Trump should have learned long ago to keep quiet about the death penalty. In 1989 he called for reinstatement of the death penalty in New York State after a grisly rape in Central Park. The five defendants were convicted and sent to prison, but were later exonerated when another man confessed, saying he acted alone.

Trump’s scapegoating of unpopular groups and his simpleminded solutions to complex problems remind me of Adolph Hitler’s plan to revive Germany’s economy by blaming Jews for all the country’s difficulties. Considering that parallel, the only appropriate response to the prospect of a second Trump presidency is Never Again!

Brian Porto

Windsor

Promises, but no delivery

In reference to a recent Forum letter, (“What do people see in Trump”), I agree. What did Trump do during his presidency? Among other things, he didn’t build the border wall and make Mexico pay for it. He never lived up to his promises and continues to lie.

During his campaign speeches leading up to the 2016 election he said he was going to work for the American people and not have time to go golfing, like Obama did. Well, Trump spent almost 300 days golfing at a cost tens of millions of dollars to American taxpayers during his presidency.

What do people see in him? It’s like the people in Germany and Italy during the 1930s and ’40s: how they were brainwashed by a dictator who spread lies and hate. You know how that turned out for the German and Italian people and the rest of the world, if you know your history.

Mark Fields

Grantham

Stormy days ahead?

Donald Trump told the crowd at his rally in Claremont last Sunday, “We’ve had a great love affair,” which begs a question.

Can “hush money” be far behind?

Barry Wenig

Lebanon