The Great Facebook Debate

By D. Allan Kerr

Last month I submitted an opinion piece critical of Donald Trump to the Seacoast Media Group, which publishes several small newspapers in the Seacoast region of Maine and New Hampshire, as I tend to do on occasion.

If you want to call it harshly critical, I won’t argue.

The piece was posted on their seacoastonline.com website and ran in the combined Sunday edition of the newspapers, but editors weren’t comfortable including it on Facebook.

It wasn’t considered Seacoast-centric enough.

Now, to me this seemed part of a larger, ongoing discussion I’ve been having with Seacoast Media Group, and I imagine it’s a debate echoed within a lot of other media forums nationwide over the past few years.

This organization, to its credit, essentially does not wish to sink to the level of the current president of the United States, who is notoriously eager to engage in grade school-level name-calling, intimidation, and flat out falsehoods.

SMG seems more aligned with the Obama strategy of “When they go low, we go high.” And that is certainly a mature and admirable approach.

But my contention, particularly in regards to Donald Trump, is the current climate may call for more of “an eye for an eye” situation – which, incidentally, Trump has cited as his favorite Bible verse. (I suspect it’s actually the only one he knows.)

This is a very peculiar moment in our history.

We have in office a president who behaves like a schoolyard bully caricature, who lies without discretion, promotes unfounded theories and exhibits outlandish delusions. He has no qualms of viciously attacking anyone, from any political stripe, who challenges him.

Unfortunately, he usually attacks people who vastly surpass him in dignity, character, class and sophistication. As a result, few ever respond in kind, even when they criticize him in public.

Essentially you have a dirty fighter who’s kicking, biting and hitting below the belt against opponents sticking to Marquis of Queensbury rules.

The problem with this approach is it allows Trump to operate from an elevated position. He gets to sling his mud and remains relatively unblemished except for the dirt he may smudge onto himself thru his own clumsy efforts.

But sometimes the best way to get a bully to back down is to punch him right in the schnozz. Verbally, of course.

For a time, I concocted derogatory nicknames for Trump in these columns. To me it was just a small way  to level the field a bit, and normally it’s not something I would have considered.

My own personal code of behavior is to treat everyone with respect until they give you a reason to act otherwise. In Trump’s case, I believe he deserves just as much respect as he gives.

And I have to admit, it was kind of fun.

Eventually I was asked by SMG to refrain from this practice. They wanted to stay out of the gutter and again, I respect that.

It also says something when the reviled “fake news media” has loftier standards of conduct than the president of the United States.

In regards to this column last month, I just felt compelled to share some illustrations of Donald Trump’s “double talk,” where he often makes two totally contradictory statements about the same topic – sometimes within the same sentence.

In my mind, this was an appropriate and timely subject, concerning the current occupant of the Oval Office just three months before a presidential election.

With nearly 190,000 (seriously??) Americans dead from COVID-19, racial unrest and violence across the country and everything else, what could be a more relevant topic?

Frankly, I don’t know which is the correct approach here.

I know my own opinion, but that’s just based on personal experiences and beliefs.

I know my old man, an ordained United Methodist minister who had more love for humankind than anyone I’ve ever met, was a champion for peace and restraint – but even he had little patience for bullies.

I guess I’m just wary of ceding the field to someone I believe will use every tool within reach to remain in power. And if someone is throwing rocks at you, are you going to throw back flowers?

Remember, this is a guy who can falsely label an injured 75-year-old protestor in Buffalo as “antifa” without recourse. He’s never apologized for publicly humiliating the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz. I mean, cripes, he’s never backed off his insinuations Cruz’s father was part of the JFK assassination!

To me, any muting of Trump criticism, especially in the final weeks before an election, plays right into his oddly tiny hands.

Now is not the time to be timid.

(Sept. 8, 2020)

Follow D. Allan Kerr on Twitter @Sloth_Blog and on Facebook

He can also be found on seacoastonline.com

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