There are scandals and then there are the things that should be scandals. Melania Trump gave a speech on Monday plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama, not to mention a song by Rick Astley (that, like these speeches, someone else wrote). Yes, that’s funny. The accented immigrant spouse campaigning for the xenophobic bigot is funny in itself. So are her pornographic photos in the context of the Republican Party’s denunciation of pornography as a major threat. But, between you and me, if you base your voting on someone’s spouse’s mindless cynical blather about “values,” you’ve got worse problems than trying to choose between two parties that can swap such blather word-for-word with each other — and so, consequently, do we all.
And if you can take a look at opening night of the Republican Convention and worry more about Melania’s nonsense than about the endless repetition of the dogma that holds 96% of humanity in contempt, that declares the United States to be the only place in the world that matters, then you’re missing the forest for the trees and the arsenal for the guns. Go back and watch Virginia Foxx suggesting that only in the United States does anyone value families. Or watch a crazed looking Michael Flynn declare that “the destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end.” Then please devote some moments to trying to identify all the nations whose interests the United States puts ahead of its own. Flynn, by the way, said he favored “a new American century.” Should the fact that he didn’t call it “the project for” really get him off the hook? Yes, yes, it’s too short and common a phrase to truly count as plagiarism, but it has already killed a lot more people than Michelle’s/Melania’s “your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise.”
Also on Monday the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May declared that she would be willing to kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women, and children, and that she would be willing to do it using a weapon that in reality is likely to kill several times that many. How is that not a scandal? If she’d said “American” men, women, and children, you can bet your fat french-fry ass it’d be the biggest roaring scandal of the week. That she is assumed to have meant some other variety of men, women, and children avoids any scandal in the U.S. media, as other people must surely be a bit more deserving of dying. However, there’s a problem with that unarticulated thought process, namely that the modifier May did use was precisely this: “innocent.” You can’t get any more innocent than “innocent,” and that’s who she’s willing to slaughter.
And for what purpose is Theresa “Seven Days in” May, just seven days into her prime ministership, willing to commit mass murder? In order, she says, to ensure that her enemies know she is willing to, because that knowledge will deter them from something or other. Of course, Tony Blair was warned that attacking countries would create anti-UK violence, not deter it. And that warning proved accurate. Imagine how many enemies Theresa May would have if she started nuking people? She’d have the whole surviving world for enemies. ISIS could blow its whole recruitment budget on self-flagellation or whatever ISISers do for fun. May would have it covered. In trying to defend her nuclearism, May is not just plagiarizing Genghis Kahn, but plagiarizing the false claims of her U.S. and UK predecessors, and doing so just as mindlessly as Melania Trump.
When Spain was victimized by a terrorist attack it pulled out of the war on Iraq, and the terrorist attacks stopped. That’s an important lesson. And the lesson is not to do whatever a bully demands. The lesson is to stop being a bully if you don’t want your victims to hit back. Spain didn’t agree to commit some new crime. It just agreed to stop committing a larger crime. This was the lesson when George W. Bush pulled the U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia or Ronald Reagan pulled them out of Lebanon. But pulling out of Saudi Arabia and moving into Iraq was not well thought through, unless the goal was chaos.
There was a bit of a scandal on Monday in the UK. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that mass murder is not a good way to handle international affairs. It would have been nice last December if the Democratic or Republican Party in the United States had had a Jeremy Corbyn in it. That was when CNN’s Hugh Hewitt asked Republican candidate Ben Carson if he would be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of children. To Carson’s great credit, he responded by answering a question from an exam he’d taken in medical school for which the answer had only just occurred to him, and then wandered off into recounting a dream or something. But the asking of the question, the assumption that a president’s basic duty is mass murder created no scandal, and won’t unless someone answers it by plagiarizing Ben Carson.