One of the defining traits for an authoritarian is a disregard for any law that they feel is inconvenient or they feel rewards “criminals.” This is why “get tough on crime” was the slogan for authoritarians in the late 80s and early 90s.
Donald Trump is an authoritarian. And he revealed his utter contempt for the rule of law today when he praised Saddam Hussein for his ability to kill terrorists without worrying about due process.
“A real bad man”
Trump has said before that he wishes we could kill terrorists and the families of those terrorists. To this egomaniac, the rule of law is all about making examples of people who probably didn’t have anything do with the crime. Just to give you some mental bearing, this is something Medieval China did to people who threatened the empire. And Medieval China is not a place anyone should want to emulate under any circumstance.
This sort of rhetoric resonates with conservatives, though, who are quick to assume “guilty” with no chance to be proven innocence — especially if you’re not white, since race, not the crime, is the most likely factor in determining who goes to death row and who doesn’t.
This is especially true with their favorite bugaboo, terrorism. Now, I’ve said before and I’ll say again: you are far more likely to be killed by some yahoo with a side arm than you are a terrorist, and that does not speak favorably to the current American political climate. There are ~13,000 people who die each year in incidents of gun violence; to begin to match that, terrorists would have to execute a 9/11 every month for four months straight.
But Trump is riding that wave of “Fear the terrorists! Fear them!” And he’s getting places with it, because of how human psychology and human heuristics work. That’s why he can make the speech he made today in front of a North Carolina audience, wherein he praised Saddam Hussein.
Because Saddam Hussein didn’t obey the rule of law when dealing with terrorists, either. Apparently.
Here’s a line that was legitimately said by a presidential candidate in 2016, in front of a North Carolina crowd:
“[Saddam Hussein] was a really bad guy. But you know what he did well? Kill terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were a terrorist. It was over.”
Here’s Donald Trump praising Saddam Hussein pic.twitter.com/ybmqoEc59c
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) July 6, 2016
I stand in awe at that sentence. The blatant disregard for the law . . . and then there’s this: the people the Ba’athist Party considered “terrorists” were the people who attacked the Ba’athist regime. Do keep in mind: this is the regime that gave us Uday Hussein. The same one that committed an act of mass murder against the Kurds.
Donald Trump is celebrating the Ba’athist ability to defend Uday Hussein and others like him. He is celebrating a brutal dictatorship’s ability to be a brutal dictatorship.
And there are actual Americans who think this man would be a worthwhile president.
Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images