In my previous blog post (“Up, Down, and Sideways”) I referenced an article by Peter Beinart on the Atlantic website a few days ago. The headline is “Trump Insults People From Afar, Then Praises Them in Person.”* Today I return to Beinart’s article to focus on a metaphor Trump used in his attack—from afar—on China’s economic challenge to the United States.
“We can’t continue,” he proclaimed during a campaign stop in 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, “to allow China to rape our country.” But on his recent trip to the Far East Trump told the Chinese:
I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?
So, rape isn’t bad after all—and no blame can be heaped on the rapist, who is “able to take advantage” of his victim for his own benefit. The blame, though, lies with the victim: in the case of the US versus China, Trump told the Chinese, it lies not on China’s government but on Trump’s American predecessors:
I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by Trump’s sleight-of-hand in turning rape into something that’s positively praiseworthy—gaining an advantage over others. He himself has been accused by at least 16 women of a range of sexual assaults.***
In fairness, we must admit that he hasn’t defended himself by blaming his victims; instead, he and his flacks have claimed that all the accusations are “fake news”:
Trump has continued his denials in office, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly telling reporters every accusation against him is a flat-out lie. He’s also used a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to lambast his accusers, saying in October, "All I can say is it’s totally fake news."
He added, "It's just fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff.”****
We can take it, then, that he wasn’t taking advantage in order to gain some kind of benefit.
To get back to the China vs. US economic situation. Perhaps we can turn Donald against himself and declare that those alleged Chinese "rapists" were not raping any other country but harmlessly pursuing their own good and that Trump’s Indiana claim, therefore, was “totally fake news.” There are no predators out there—sexual or economic—and thus no victims being taken advantage of either.
Don’t you feel better?
(Assuming you haven’t read the news recently.)