A short time ago, Donald Trump described major news media, including the New York Times and Washington Post, as “enemies of the people.” He further accused them, and other respected media outlets, of creating “fake news.”
The real problem with Trump’s use of the phrase is that it is not true, but the term also conjures up a number of unpleasant historical events. Intentionally? As a foreshadowing of things to come?
The term was first used in the French Revolution of 1789. Those in favor of the revolution used it as a convenient way of disposing of opponents. They enacted a law setting up a tribunal to judge and punish “enemies of the people.” Punishment was the guillotine.
By 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution picked up on the French approach, with Lenin declaring that the French use of the term was “instructive.” He used “enemy of the people” as a way of disposing of political enemies: “landowners and capitalists.” His weapon of choice was a firing squad.
Stalin expanded the use of the phrase “enemy of the people” to justify mass executions never before seen in their magnitude — except for Hitler’s Holocaust.
Do I believe that Trump really understands the historical meaning of the term or the vibes that it throws off? No, I doubt it. I would not guess that Trump ever took the time to read the history of the French Revolution or the overthrow of the czar and the rise of Lenin. Trump is too focused on today’s Russian czar, Vladimir Putin.
Trump is the real “enemy of the people.” All of us must remain focused on the federal investigation and the probability that Trump and his campaign team colluded with the Russians to affect our last election and that he and his cohorts made some kind of nefarious deal.
This has been denied directly by Trump and his associates. When the truth is out for all to see, what will we, as a nation, do about President Trump?
I believe that Republicans will have no choice by to initiate impeachment proceedings. Trump will be impeached and that is the legal and appropriate way to go.
A free press is essential for the maintenance of our democracy. Trump likes to dish it out. He should learn to take it. We would know nothing about Trump’s nefarious dealings if we did not have media free to investigate, report and comment.
We in Connecticut are indeed fortunate that we have the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information and can rely on its ongoing efforts to keep press freedom alive and well.
I also commend both Sens. Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal for their fighting back against Trump. We all need to do so, but it is comforting to know that we have two senators who get it when it comes to Trump.
Edward Marcus is former chairman of the Democrat State Central Committee in Connecticut, former state Senate majority leader and principal of Branford-based Marcus Law Firm.