Purdue University professor Bill Mullen and Donald Trump: one hates Jews, the other hates Muslims – and both men are essentially un-American.
What’s The Connection?
You are probably wondering – what does an ultra-left wing professor in Indiana have to do with the lunatic radical Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential elections? While the Donald is mentally rolling out slabs of concrete to keep “Mexican rapists” on the other side his fantasy wonder wall, Bill is likely visualizing a way to launch a Mexican general uprising. Trump can’t wait to pass a law forbidding Muslim entry into the U.S.; Mullen goes on politically-themed trips to the Palestinian Territories where he meets with Islamic activists that want Jews out of the Middle East.
Yet beneath their surface differences, the two men share a fundamental similarity that’s representative of an increasingly common American phenomenon: “moral” righteousness and its close cousin, scapegoating. Donald Trump appears on the scene as the champion of white, lower-class America. He is here to rectify wrongs caused by immigration (of course, barring current trophy wife Melania, a Slovenian émigré), by Muslims, and by…captured war heroes?
Who Do They Hate?
Bill Mullen loves Muslims, immigrants, and minorities, which would be great if it didn’t mean he hated everyone else. While Trump idolizes the strong and powerful, or at least those who were historically “supposed” to be so (AKA white men), Mullen worships the weak and vulnerable. Trump blames the inability of a certain sector of white society to get ahead on illegal immigrants – rather than trying to increase the former’s educational attainment and opportunities. Mullen exclusively faults Israel for the Palestinians’ failure to overcome their refugee status and build a state – and it never occurs to him that other factors are involved.
Donald Trump’s Scapegoats: Women, Minorities, Immigrants
Donald Trump, with his infamous lack of subtlety, has made his scorn for Mexican immigrants as plain to see as his yellow comb-over. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” he said in the speech announcing his run for presidency.
Presumably, working class Americans are feeling abandoned by the Democratic Party. The most likely candidate, though she stands for raising the minimum wage, stricter gun laws, tolerance and equality, is often perceived as a “limousine liberal” by those who drive a pickup truck with pistol in tow. Trump feeds off of this sector’s general feeling that there isn’t enough to go around, and some people have to be excluded in order to safeguard what rightfully belongs to other people (i.e., his “all-American” constituency).
In Trump’s view, (white) America will be great again when everyone else is driven away. He plays off of his supporters’ fears by encouraging racism and a fascist line of thinking. He’ll fight for his preferred underdog at the expense of women, minorities, and immigrants – who themselves are underdogs, but whom Trump supporters see as the cause of their ills. He’s less about strengthening the working class with educational opportunities, higher wages, and better healthcare, and more about weakening his scapegoats. It’s a fatalistic and dangerous path that was tread far too many times during the 20th century.
Bill Mullen’s Scapegoats: Jews and Non-Minorities
Much like Donald Trump is a self-appointed champion of working class anger in spite of his own extreme wealth, Professor Bill Mullen is a crusader for Palestinian freedom despite his Middle American roots. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this dynamic, it is odd and raises some questions. In Trump’s case, it’s probably less related to deep-seated values and more to what he thought could win him votes and attention.
On the other hand, Bill Mullen’s sympathies with the Palestinians at the expense of Israel are long-held. He’s not just all talk; he really believes it when he says things like, “Palestinians comprise an increasing percentage of the population in Israel itself, and a MAJORITY in the combined area of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.” These estimates are wrong because there is currently no Palestinian majority in Israel and the territories (Israel + Gaza + the West Bank). This claim is designed to compare the situation in Israel with apartheid in South Africa, where the minority ruled the majority. Furthermore, Mullen doesn’t seem interested in discussing co-existence and a two-state solution; on the contrary, he suggests – and probably hopes – that the Palestinians will eventually outnumber Jews in Israel.
Mullen’s strange obsession with Israel shows that he’s fixated on the Jewish state as the sole obstacle in the creation of a Palestinian state – ignoring the Palestinian leadership’s admitted failure to accept Israel’s 2008 offer of major land concessions in exchange for peace and a multitude of other opportunities the Palestinians had for statehood.
What is Mullen’s motivation in all of this? Why the demonization of Jews? Why the insistence on portraying Jews as colonizers for returning to their ancestral home? Why the refusal to acknowledge that Jews were also victims before they had a country of their own? Why does being pro-Palestinian always end up equating to being anti-Israel? After all, there are many Jews who would like to see Palestinians get a homeland and for there to be peace.
And it’s not only the Jews Mullen hates. He also can’t stand non-minorities, and believes minorities are superior. Not equal, superior.
“The Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity”
It’s this kind of divisiveness and incitement that’s so similar to Donald Trump, and symptomatic of our increasingly polarized times. Whether it’s Mexicans or Jews, there is no place for scapegoating in America today. In W.B. Yeats’s prophetic poem The Second Coming, which was written in 1919 following the devastation of the first World War, he warns of the dangers of extremism:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
The last two lines are emblematic of the Mullen/Trump phenomenon: two seemingly opposite ends of the political spectrum that ultimately are joined together in a common hatred and radicalism.