Trump biographer David Cay Johnston: 'This photograph is obscene'
Sometimes a picture deserves a thousand or so words.
The photograph above of the Trumps in El Paso is an obscenity.
Because it was released without caption material, its terrible significance may not be obvious to many people so let’s scrutinize the image. And let’provide context, which will reveal how the evil that is Trumpism seduces so many millions of Americans, prompting some to violence, others to serve as props for our hate-filled commander-in-chief.
This is a staged, official Trump Administration photo.
No news cameras were allowed in the University Medical Center of El Paso, the teaching hospital where the photo was shot when Trump touched down there briefly.
Barring journalists from the hospital ensured that there would be no images of Trump being turned away by all eight adult survivors of the El Paso Walmart shooting. They were still recovering from wounds inflicted by a racist mass murderer whose manifesto shows he drew his anti-Latino inspiration from Trump.
The killer drove nine hours to kill as many Mexican “invaders” as possible, his own words tracking the president’s dehumanizing rhetoric about supposed Latino invaders.
The butcher bill: 22 dead, 24 wounded.
Lack of Consent
One survivor appears in the image, an unwilling participant.
His name is Paul Anchondo. He was orphaned on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, at age two months.
The photo above conceals more than it reveals about little Paul. Viewers cannot tell that he suffered broken fingers during the attack. The image does not show his mother’s blood, still on his clothes, according to his aunt Terry Anchondo.
Now, look closely at how Melania Trump holds little Paul. His skin does not touch hers. Rather than cradling baby Paul lovingly against her bosom, Melania Trump holds him outward like a sack of potatoes, more of a logo than a human being.
Contrast this with the reasons little Paul Anchondo survived the seventh deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history. Hearing gunfire, his mother, Jordan Anchondo, made herself a human shield, dying as she absorbed the killer’s spray of bullets. His father Andre, in turn, jumped between his wife and the gun barrel.
Now contrast their sacrifice, which also left their six-year-old daughter orphaned, with Melania Trump’s view of her position as America’s First Lady. By her own account, Melania is in it for the money.
Melania Trump revealed her crass commercialism soon after her husband assumed office. She sued a British newspaper that described her as having once been a “high-end escort.”
Her complaint said the Daily Mail damaged her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world. These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.”
She collected a reported $150,000 in damages over the paper’s characterization of the days when she was at times seen in the company of wealthy older men, including Trump, and worked illegally in the United States as a model, sometimes doing nude girl-on-girl poses now marketed by porn websites without any litigation by the First Lady.
Given the choice of words in the lawsuit, and the Trumpian values they reveal, it’s reasonable to wonder if Melania Trump would have thrown herself in the way of bullets to save anyone else, including her own child, had she been in the El Paso Walmart when her husband’s acolyte opened fire.
Little Paul could no more give consent to be used by Melania and Donald Trump than any of the underage girls that Trump associate Jeffrey Epstein raped and supplied to other rich men to rape.
We don’t know whether Trump, who traveled with Epstein, in 2002 called him “a terrific guy” and voiced clear awareness that Epstein had an interest in young girls, is among those child rapists.
We do know, however, that Trump walked in on naked and near-naked underage girls, some only 15 years old, in the dressing rooms of beauty pageants he owned, bragging about it to Howard Stern and others. Perhaps we never will know how far he went since Epstein died Aug. 10 in the custody the Trump Administration, which says Epstein hung himself.
Trump’s Thumbs Up and Grin
Now look closely at how Trump mugs for the camera. Keep in mind that Trump is a draft dodger who told Howard Stern he should get a Congressional Medal of Honor for bedding women while his peers were dying in combat in Vietnam. He made similar comments at other times, too.
Notice that Trump grin, as out of place under the circumstances as anything he has ever done.
Next look at that thumbs-up sign. What is being celebrated here? The First Lady’s federally paid publicists, who posted the photo at Twitter, didn’t say.
Is it just Trump not knowing, once again, how to behave? Could it be that luring the dead parents’ relatives into being useful props that deflected attention from his violent rhetoric made him glad? Or that we are seeing his inner response to the mass murder of Latinos done by a Trump fan? Before thinking that last point is too harsh remember that many times over many years, including in his 2007 book Think Big, Trump has detailed at length that what gives him pleasure is making others suffer. In one case, Trump recounts growing suffering and states at each stage how much his pleasure grew with each new terrible event.
Also remember that Trump claims to be a Christian, yet he has said many times in various forums including Think Big that his entire life philosophy boils down to a single word that is rejected by Jesus in the New Testament: revenge.
Trump’s inappropriate pose crystallizes his utter inability to connect with other human beings, whom he regards as mere objects. Think back to October 2017 when, as commander-in-chief, Trump telephoned the widow of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, killed in an ambush in the African country of Niger. Instead of offering condolences and comfort, Trump insulted the widow.
“The president said, ‘He knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway,’ ” Myeshia Johnson said.“It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone in his voice and how he said it.”
Irony in Death
So why did two members of the Anchondo family allow themselves to become props for Trump propaganda?
John Jamrowski, a grandfather of Jordan Anchondo and great grandfather of baby Paul, turned down a request to meet Trump at the hospital.
“We discussed it as a family and said, ‘You know what, this could be spun around,’” he told the Associated Press.
Why others agreed to the photo op and the use of baby Paul is unclear.
Asked why he agreed to provide infant Paul, another relative and himself for the staged photo Andre Anchondo’s brother Tito told NPR that the dead father of Paul was“very supportive of Trump.”
After Paul is all grown up maybe someone will ask how he feels about being used to burnish the image of the man whose anti-Latino diatribes inspired a man to murder his parents and 20 other people.
Meantime, we can only hope that the millions of Americans who support Trump open their eyes to see what is right in front of them, open their minds to the facts about what an awful person Donald Trump is and open their hearts to the victims of mass murder after mass murder done by people who embrace Donald Trump’s white supremacist, racist vision for America.