The Day Satire Died


Donald Trump is no longer funny.

Looking back, he never was.

As a Latino and an immigrant, the man's hurtful words -- rapists, criminals, drug dealers -- hurled at Mexicans coming to our country saddened me.

Yet, cartoonists and comedians had a field day with him and feasted from the cornucopia of silliness and idiocy offered them by this man.

As someone who had relatives transported in cattle wagons to Nazi concentration camps during World War II, Trump's demented plan to round-up, corral and deport 11 million innocent men, women and children appalled me. His call for rolling back birthright citizenship of those he vilely calls "anchor babies" left me speechless.

Yet, late night comedy and sitcom show hosts found him comical, scrambled to have him appear on their shows -- and their ratings soared.

As a veteran, I was particularly offended when Trump ridiculed and denigrated a national Vietnam War hero and by his calumny about our prisoners of war.

Trump only improved his shtick. The Huffington Post relegated Trump's sideshow to the Entertainment section.

Then Trump went after women, verbally violating them with unconscionable vulgarity and boorishness. He diminished politicians -- even from his own Party -- and attempted to destroy anyone who criticized him.

Still, the pundits, comedians and satirists loved him for the fodder he gave them.

No matter how contemptuous and reprehensible Trump's conduct became, his base just cheered him louder, loved him more and drove up his poll numbers.

Even yours truly got swept up by the lampooning and burlesquing feeding frenzy and dabbled here and there with attempts at satire, albeit in the spirit of exposing the man's claptrap and rot by using "humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule," as satire "experts" define this art.

As someone who has seen firsthand the misery and desperation of refugees, I was shocked by Trump's inhumanity when he proposed to shut the door on those who are fleeing murder, torture, rape, persecution and other atrocities being perpetrated on them by ISIL and others in Syria and Iraq.

But, he was a big hit with his base.

Even then, some still referred to him merely as a jester, a clown, a comic book character, a carnival barker...

There was no stopping Trump's obscene "humor." Basking in the success and glory reaped from having reviled minorities, women, immigrants, including fellow Republican presidential candidates, Trump had the shamelessness to even mock the disability of a journalist with a chronic medical condition.

Some were still snickering.

Then Trump went after Muslims and Muslim-Americans claiming that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks; proposing registration of Muslims and keeping data bases on them; maintaining surveillance on mosques and finally calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

Many still loved Trump's dog whistles, his bigotry, his misogyny, his hate -- they always will.

But many others grew increasingly disgusted and disturbed by his chicanery.

After Trump's frontal attack on Muslims, Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington declared "we are no longer entertained," and Trump is back to where the true danger and un-Americanism of his politics can be discussed in earnest.

Arianna Huffington:

Our decision in July was made because we refused to go along with the idea, based simply on poll numbers, that Trump's candidacy was actually a serious and good faith effort to present ideas on how best to govern the country...

Yes, there was certainly no shortage of ugly comments from the beginning, as he kicked off his campaign with outrageous comments about Mexicans. But at first, this over-the-top xenophobia, though disgusting, played as the sour shtick of a washed-up insult comic. Now that Trump, aided by the media, has doubled down on the cruelty and know-nothingness that defined his campaign's early days, the 'can you believe he said that?' novelty has curdled and congealed into something repellent and threatening -- laying bare a disturbing aspect of American politics.

Tara Trower Doolittle, Viewpoints Editor at the Austin American-Statesman, perhaps said it best in a recent column.

Doolittle points out that we "are in grave danger," not from terrorists but from hate speech such as "Trump's incendiary diatribes encouraging Americans to sort themselves by religion and race, commit war crimes by killing innocent civilians and rekindle failed, inhumane policies from past eras. Trump's roadshow is bad enough -- but the adoring crowds and high poll numbers are much worse."

She writes about the "dark moments" our country has already had: slavery, the Klan, internment camps, mass deportations, etc. and warns, "Every one of these historical scars started with contagious, hateful speech -- legal and constitutionally protected... Let's take a deep breath. Let's think before we speak or write and let's hold our leaders accountable for failing to do likewise...We cannot influence Trump, whose money assures that he will have a bully pulpit even if he fails to win the nomination -- but we can each influence and shape our own communities for good or ill. History has shown time and time again the high price of silence."

I for one will continue to speak out against Trump.

But it will no longer be in the form of satire as, in my opinion, satire fails to adequately illuminate the moral corruption of Trump's false siren song purportedly meant to "make America great again."

For me, satire died during the 2015 Republican presidential primaries.

That feeling was starkly reinforced today when I read how this man "surges to his biggest lead over the GOP field."