A portion of H.L. Mencken’s remarks upon the death of William Jennings Bryan.
What was behind that consuming hatred? At first I thought that it was mere evangelical passion. Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love. But even evangelical Christians occasionally loose their belts and belch amicably; I have known some who, off duty, were very benignant. In that very courtroom, indeed, were some of them — for example, old Ben McKenzie, Nestor of the Dayton bar, who sat beside Bryan. Ben was full of good humor. He made jokes with Darrow. But Bryan only glared.
One day it dawned on me that Bryan, after all, was an evangelical Christian only by sort of afterthought — that his career in this world, and the glories thereof, had actually come to an end before he ever began whooping for Genesis. So I came to this conclusion: that what really moved him was a lust for revenge. The men of the cities had destroyed him and made a mock of him; now he would lead the yokels against them. Various facts clicked into the theory, and I hold it still. The hatred in the old man’s burning eyes was not for the enemies of God; it was for the enemies of Bryan.
Thus he fought his last fight, eager only for blood. It quickly became frenzied and preposterous, and after that pathetic.
Thus, the unyielding evangelical support for Donald Trump. He despises the same people they do, the accomplished and well-educated people who have recreated the world and left them behind in a place that they can’t understand.
Americans still have The Right Stuff
Though all of us acquainted with the history of the convulsions of the 20th-Century, and who gave close attention to Donald Trump’s serial indecencies during the 2016 campaign, knew that there would inevitably be a reprise of the vandalism and violence that attended the birth of the Third Reich, it was nonetheless a shock to see torchlit mobs marching through the streets of Thomas Jefferson’s “academical village” chanting “Blood and Soil.”
We weren’t kidding when we worriedly recalled Krystallnacht; when we condemned the naked malice and outright violence at Trump rallies; when we reminded that Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini, too, systematically attacked the press; when we marveled at the bald, demagogic lies and his supporter’s blithe indifference to those lies; when we warned that these things are the opening acts of a fascist state.
Those who thought that Trump didn’t mean the things he said, that a better Donald Trump would emerge after the election, were grievously, dangerously, wrong. The corrupt and incurious and malicious human sewage you see is who Donald Trump really is.
There is no better Donald Trump. His sympathy for Nazis is real. His hostility to American ideals is real.
But: When even the Joint Chiefs, as apolitical a body as exists in American life, publicly reject The Donald’s deeply un-American blabberings and moral equivocations, you know the jig is up. Everywhere you look, Americans mean to defend their country and its ideals against its president. There is still plenty of the Right Stuff in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A., and it’s going to be allright.
I doubt that many people at all are standing in line for an opportunity to serve on a Trump council. As I said months ago, Trump’s high tide was election day; ever since, the tide has been going out. An odious buffoon can’t hide the truth about himself forever.