An animal’s response to a perceived mortal threat is fear. Fear, in turn, triggers the fight or flight response. Human’s behave the same way, although we alone feel threatened by words – particularly of those we disagree with, don’t understand or can’t control – whether they’re directed at us or not.
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More and more in our media-centric connected world, we attack in kind.
Judging by the overwhelming number of petty, malicious and downright vicious media attacks – social and traditional – on nearly everyone who spoke at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last week, Donald Trump’s candidacy appears to threaten a lot of people.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of it was thoughtful and substantive analysis of Trump’s often over-the-top statements and controversial policies. But much of it amounts to little more than clickable headlines with trivial content or dubious arguments with just enough red meat to rally the masses against the threat of a Trump presidency.
There must have been hundreds if not thousands of articles on Melania Trump’s speech gaff. How many ways can the media desperately try to spin a terrible mistake by a speech writer into something meaningful to a presidential campaign? Apparently, quite a lot. Never mind that it wasn’t the candidate himself but his wife.
Then there’s Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka. Nobody could find anything wrong with her speech, so the media turned to clothing. One commentator dug up some obscure issues with Ivanka’s clothing line. Another tried to turn the $138 dress she bought at Macy’s into some horrible snafu, given her father’s feud with the retailer.
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Prior to the event, some among the Silicon Valley elite were whining that tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s speech might sully the tech industry’s pristine brand (guilt by association, I guess). But other than becoming the first RNC speaker to say “I’m proud to be gay,” there really wasn’t much to it.
Nevertheless, the media found things to pick on. One journalist tried to make a case that Thiel’s reasons for backing Trump makes absolutely no sense at all. Never mind that Thiel is one of the most successful serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists of our era.
Don’t even get me started on the columnist who repeatedly called New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “Big Chicken” in a critique of his speech. Or another who found a way to write 500 words on Trump’s running mate Mike Pence – not about his policies or track record as Governor of Indiana, mind you, but about a five-second clip showing his reaction to something Trump said. I kid you not.
Meanwhile, media and entertainment elites took to the Twitterverse to demonstrate just how inclusive they are of viewpoints they don’t agree with.
Trump nemesis Rosie O’Donnell called him the “voice” of “white racist sexist Americans.” Arianna Huffington tweeted “the angriest acceptance speech I can remember” and “who here believes he understands the Mideast, the origins of ISIS and what’s fueling it, raise your hand?”
Actor Alan Cumming said, “He thinks LGBT is a sandwich.” Marlon Wayans tweeted “Trump’s daughter just gave a great speech … Who the f--- was she talking about.” And Michael Moore wrote, “First Republican ever to use the word “peace” in any speech. So I guess that means, war.” I didn’t quite understand that, but it still got over a thousand retweets and likes. Go figure.
You expect that sort of nonsense from the right-fearing media and entertainers, but Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban unleashed a tweetstorm during Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday. The childish Twitter tantrum attacked everything from the real estate mogul’s mannerisms and character …
I used to be a crook. But trust me, I'm not any more. Says @realDonaldTrump— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 22, 2016
… to the way he hugs his family.
I know this is horrible to say. But please don't ever let me hug my family that way. My family should always have to pull away from a hug— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 22, 2016
He’s a real class act, that Cuban. And, in my opinion, his gross mischaracterizations of Trump’s policy positions were absolutely ludicrous.
To paraphrase @realDonaldTrump I'm the government and I'm here to save you, give you a job, cut you off from the world & end tech progress— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 22, 2016
You’ve got to wonder if any of these people realize how revealing their rhetoric is. They are absolutely terrified of this man and what he represents, just as they were of Sarah Palin after her 2008 RNC speech. Who knew you could learn so much about what makes people tick, just from their response to a political convention. It’s stunning, really.