Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
President Trump’s proposal for a military parade was met with total and absolute hysteria. Just like any and every other proposal that he makes. Military parades are a “public demonstration of power is characteristic of authoritarian regimes like North Korea and China,” the media screeched.
That must be why we have them every year.
The National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. has been an annual event since it was revived to honor World War II veterans. But it’s subdued compared to other parades across the country which still include tanks and other heavy military equipment. We’ve been having military parades since 1776.
Jefferson, Lincoln and countless other presidents reviewed them and took part in them. And they weren’t just limited to days set aside to honor veterans or for the occasional victory celebration.
The military reflects the character of a nation’s government. In authoritarian states, military parades represent the repressive power of the tyranny. In free nations, they show the power of the people. A tank, like a gun, is a tool that is not good or evil. It’s the use that men make of it, that makes it so.
We knew that during the Cold War.
President Kennedy’s inaugural parade included Pershing, Nike and Hercules nuclear missiles. But he was just topping President Eisenhower who had an M65 Atomic Cannon along with four companies of tanks and artillery. Truman’s inaugural parade had a squadron of B-52 bombers flying overhead.
If President Trump’s inauguration had shown off a weapon that could destroy an entire city, the media would have had a fit. But President Kennedy had watched a line of tanks pass in front of his reviewing stand in a public demonstration of power characteristic of authoritarian regimes like China and Camelot.
The hysteria over the military parade is typical of the ‘abnormalization’ of President Trump.
The #resistance has declared that its mission is refusing to ‘normalize’ Trump. That means it won’t accept that he won the election, that he has the right to issue orders or even exist. The violent protests, the marches, the judicial activism and the political sabotage all stem from that refusal to ‘normalize’.
Instead of ‘normalizing’ him, the left has ‘abnormalized’ him as aberrant in every possible way. And the media has built a profitable business model of catering to the radical left by pretending that normal behavior is a shocking outrage. That’s why CNN treated President Trump having 2 scoops of ice cream as a news story. Or why the media was certain that Trump had to be in poor health no matter what a doctor who had been vouched for by top Obama officials told them to their faces.
Abnormalization means that everything that Trump does is extraordinary and bad. Even down to eating ice cream or a cheeseburger. His health must be bad because he is a bad person. Nothing is too petty to be treated as an outrage. Including Melania’s shoes. And everything he does is bad because he did it.
The psychology of abnormalization drives much of the news coverage of President Trump.
Everything about President Trump is extraordinary and therefore newsworthy. The news cycle is consumed with the pettiest possible coverage of him. Abnormalization leaves the media unable to distinguish between an important story and an unimportant one. Whether he has two scoops of ice cream or plans a military parade, it’s both a huge story and a huge outrage. The news is no longer a listing of events, but of outrages. The connective tissue between the incontinent stream of random Trump bashing on CNN is neither factual nor relevant to anything in our lives: it’s outrage.
Abnormalization depends on a very specific form of bias which assumes that since President Trump is abnormal, everything he does is also abnormal. It’s the social media disease of a progressive media echo chamber which is ignorant of history, but carefully cogent of ideology. Its members, drawn from the exotic diversity of a handful of Ivy League schools and suburban bedroom communities, are vague on any subjects outside their cultural purview. And they’ve been politically trained in those schools to reframe anything and everything as racist, sexist or homophobic at the crack of an ideological whip.
Reality is always being reinvented because how they are told to feel about it keeps changing.
These categorizations are often contextual and have nothing to do with the content. A book by William Faulkner is bad because he was a white man. And too many white men have written books. Trees are racist because black people were lynched on them. Being quiet is racist because it marginalizes students.
In this children’s game of nonsensical associations, emotional context matters, but content doesn’t.
A generation has been taught to toss out the reality of a thing for an emotional perspective of how some oppressed person might see it. Truth has been replaced by ‘my truth’. And that chain of emotional associations makes it fallaciously easy to normalize the abnormal and abnormalize the normal.
Context normalizes. The only way to abnormalize Trump is to reject any and all context.
Nothing existed before Trump. Nothing will exist after him. The left is caught in an endless moment of perpetual struggle, stretched out by the nanosecond pace of Twitter and amplified by endless media discourses, of how extraordinarily bad this moment is. In that moment, the left never grows or learns, it writhes in the hellish agonies of its own hatred at Trump’s continuing unnatural existence.
Imagine 1984’s Two Minutes Hate stretched out over years. That’s the #resistance.
Abnormalization is at the root of that pain and anger. We can tolerate differences, but the abnormal is a threat to our sense of normalcy. Its existence is an attack on us. Its freakishness must be destroyed for us to resume feeling normal again. The feelings it engenders are deeply tribal and violent.
The abnormalization of Trump doesn’t change him, but it does change those who hate him.
It’s their brains, not his, that adapt to a new way of seeing the world. The constant stream of outrage transforms their nervous systems. The abnormalization of Trump makes the entire world seem aberrant. Paranoia and isolation leads to clustering into virulent organizations that abnormalize them. The conspiracy theories that they clutch are reinforced by irrational echo chambers at odds with reality.
Reality isn’t abnormal. But denying it is.
Denying reality makes you crazy and stupid. It ends with you “collectively yelling at the sky” to protest Trump’s inauguration. Or denying history, medicine and science because truth has become abnormal.
The abnormalization of President Trump retroactively rewrites history. The same media that treated McCain as a vile racist and Romney as a new low, now celebrates both men as the epitomes of dignity. Judicial rulings reflect the same abnormalization as the powers that previous presidents held and utilized are retroactively deemed to be off limits. Not only history, but legal history, is being rewritten.
Military parades were once a staple of Washington D.C. politics. But now they’ve been retroactively abnormalized. As is having two scoops of ice cream or anything else that President Trump does.
This is bad for America. But it’s even worse for common sense.
The media and the mindless lefties consuming it have built a senseless culture of outrage that is hostile to history and uninterested in the truth. Its house of ideological cards is bolstered with fake fact checks.
The more it insists that President Trump is abnormal, the more abnormal the left becomes.