"I will call them, from now on, losers because that's what they are -- losers. They're losers, just remember that,” said President Trump today in response to this week’s
horrendous attacks in Manchester, United Kingdom.
The usual critics have dismissed the “loser” comparison as trivializing and not to be taken seriously.
Here’s why we should.
President Trump was far more right in describing the true nature of terrorists than either of his two predecessors.
President George W. Bush called terrorists “cowards” -- a strange descriptor for guerrillas who volunteered to die in plane crashes. President Obama took heat for pandering to politically-correctness by refusing to state the obvious in describing terrorists as Islamist.
Today in Jerusalem, President Trump refused to give terrorists the satisfaction of calling them “monsters,” because “they would think that was a great name.” And he’s right. There’s a kind of efficacy in frightening, intimidating, and bullying -- as Trump knows all too well. Come Halloween it is monster masks, not Droopy or Eeyore, that get the good candy.
This isn’t the first time the president has compared terrorists to “losers.” Back in November 2015, he tweeted, "The media must immediately stop calling ISIS leaders ‘MASTERMINDS.’ Call them instead thugs and losers. Young people must not go into ISIS!"
Unfortunately the novelty of Trump calling terrorists losers is somewhat diminished by the fact that he’s called so many people losers.
Cher. Karl Rove. Standard & Poors. George Will. Michelle Malkin. And of course, Rosie O’Donnell.
Yep, being called “loser” by Trump doesn’t quite carry the sting it used to. It’s like being called a racist by Maxine Watters. And that’s too bad. As a former Presidential speechwriter myself, I believe words -- particularly those of the President -- matter. It makes speechwriters nervous when Presidents are unscripted - as this remark most certainly was, and why some construed it as off-point.
For most of us a “loser” is the guy who dropped out of college and spends his days playing video games in his mother’s basement, not the bloodthirsty killer who just murdered 22 people including several children.
Yes, most of us wouldn’t connect terrorist with losers. But Trump did.
And so did someone else -- his favorite writer, Ayn Rand.
Just as Trump called killers ‘losers,” Rand called losers “killers.”
In “The Age of Envy,” in her collection of essays, Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, she asks:
“What is the nature of a creature in which the sight of a value arouses hatred and the desire to destroy? In the most profound sense of the term, such a creature is a killer, not a physical, but a metaphysical one—it is not an enemy of your values, but of all values, it is an enemy of anything that enables men to survive, it is an enemy of life as such and of everything living.” (emphasis added).
To bring it from the metaphysical to the mundane, what connects the deadbeat with an ISIS killer is a common desire to escape reality.
Neither want to deal with the world as it is. The deadbeat evades the world by distracting himself and mooching off others. The terrorist evades the world by destroying it and escaping into “paradise.”
Terrorists are not flying airplanes into dung heaps or homeless encampments in the hopes of living an eternity of ascetic celibacy. No they’re hoping to wake up in that great Ariana Grande concert in the sky.
Their greatest wet dream would be to blow up a Trump Tower.
Not because it’s filled with losers, but because it’s filled with winners. And the existence of the “haves” -- have money, have music, have joy -- is what their nihilistic hatred drives them to destroy.
It’s what Rand called “the hatred of the good for being good.”
It’s closest cousin is envy, which she argued serves as only “as a semi-human cover for so inhuman an emotion that those who feel it seldom dare admit it even to themselves. Mankind has lived with it, has observed its manifestations and, its various extents, has been ravaged by it for countless centuries, yet has failed to grasp its meaning and to rebel against its exponents.”
How has such an evil managed to survive, and indeed thrive, for centuries, unchecked?
In part, as Rand explains, because “men continue to evade its existence and are peculiarly afraid to name it, as primitive people were once afraid to pronounce the name of the devil.”
Rand wasn’t afraid. And neither is President Trump.
In this respect, Trump nailed it by calling the terrorists for what they are. I hope he won’t stop -- and indeed will elaborate, and carry through with his promises to rally the civilized world “to protect human life and the sacred right of our citizens to live in safety and in peace.” Or as Trump might call it, “winning”.
Jennifer Anju Grossman is the CEO of the Atlas Society.