• Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Trump's 'enemies of the people' remark echoes history's worst tyrants

  • Published at 08:16 am February 19th, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:22 am February 19th, 2017
Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death. Now the chilling phrase – which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus," enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 – is making something of a comeback. In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process. Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile. [caption id="attachment_47337" align="aligncenter" width="714"]US President Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference at the White House in Washington, US, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria US President Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference at the White House in Washington, US, February 16. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters[/caption] "The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter.   The reaction was swift. "Every president is irritated by the news media. No other president would have described the media as 'the enemy of the people',” tweeted David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. Gabriel Sherman, national affairs editor at New York magazine, called the phrase a "chilling" example of "full-on dictator speak.” Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists. And that might not be a far-fetched concern. Late last year, a Trump supporter opened fire in a pizza restaurant at the centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory about child abuse. The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators. Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment. And Chairman Mao, the leader of China who presided over the deaths of millions of people in a famine brought about by his Great Leap Forward, was also known to use the phrase against anyone who opposed him, with terrible consequences. The president was widely criticised for his choice of words. "Charming that our uneducated President manages to channel the words of Stalin and fails to hear the historical resonance of this phrase," tweeted Mitchell Orenstein, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: "The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying – always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon's." Mr Trump is not the first US president to have an antagonistic relationship with the media – Nixon is known to have privately referred to the press as "the enemy" - but his latest broadside, with all its attendant historical echoes, is unprecedented.
50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail