Donald Trump is not a stranger to controversy and it seems as though his popularity among xenophobic Republicans has become largely contingent on his ability to spout ridiculous, outrageous remarks. In recent days and weeks, it appears as those Trump has apparently found an admirer in the form of Russian overlord, Vladmir Putin, who called Trump both “talented” and “brilliant” in a recent interview. Seemingly unaware of the sarcastic nature of his admiration, Trump has welcomed this “endorsement” of his “brilliance” and has praised Putin’s leadership qualities and other abilities in return.
Not only has this mutual admiration between the two disgusted Democrats, but even conservative Republicans are raising their eyebrows at this somewhat disturbing display of affection. Joe Scarborough responded to Trump’s positive comments toward the Russian dictator by mentioning Putin’s history of barbarism, to which Trump responded that Putin was at least a real leader, unlike our own country’s president. There’s no doubt that Putin uses rather brutal methods in his attempt to squelch freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
He’s gone to great, horrific lengths to accomplish this, including the murder of journalists, the most notable of which was Anna Politskovkaya. In total, Putin is believed to have murdered as many as 111 journalists during his terms as president, and another twenty-two during the period where he relinquished the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev and took the Prime Ministership for himself. When Scarborough brought Putin’s knack for targeting and murdering those who espouse conflicting beliefs and ideologies to his attention, Trump deflected by saying that there is plenty of murder and stupidity that goes on throughout the world, and that our country is certainly not immune.
While it is undoubtedly true that there is a horrible amount of killing going on in many areas of the world, it’s even more disturbing that Trump would equate this type of slaughter with the targeted murder of those who wish to speak the truth and simply practice free speech. Republicans are certainly known for their ability to spout insensitive, poorly-thought-out comments like these. It was only a couple of months ago, after all, that Jeb Bush brought hellfire down on himself when he responded casually to the Oregon college tragedy with the phrase “stuff happens”. A week before that, he fared little better with saying that he didn’t intend to win the black vote by offering “free stuff” like others.
Endorsing the murder of those who Putin perceives as threatening his government and leadership is an egregious slap to the face of the Constitution, specifically the first Amendment. It’s completely shocking that statements such as these from Trump do not immediately take him out of the running for President. Frankly, it should. Scarborough’s angry response to Trump’s statements finally forced Trump to adopt a more well-composed, if insincere politically correct stance on the topic. When Scarborough directly asked him if he condemned the murder of journalists by Vladmir Putin, Trump responded in the affirmative.
If one thing can be taken from this interchange, it’s that Trump and Putin are scarily similar in their worldviews, their xenophobia, and their fascist way of thinking. Not only this, but they certainly both seem to have a penchant for homophobia and a belief in white supremacy as well. While it’s possible that Trump is simply saying these things in order to increase his popularity among his supporters, that’s the least of our problems. What’s truly terrifying is the fact that his constituency loves him even more after each of these shocking revelations. What does that say about his voters? The answer: nothing good.