My opposition to the death penalty is not, principally, for the usual reasons. Of course I am horrified by the notion that the death penalty is meted out with a racial bias, and that millionaires seldom, if ever, reside on Death Row. And who wouldn’t be outraged when an innocent person, wrongly convicted, is executed? (The too frequently cited complaint, that we are hypocrites for resorting to murder in exchange for murder, is absurd on its face. We incarcerate people for unjust incarceration, do we not?)
No, my opposition to the death penalty stems principally from the fact that it’s what totalitarians do. Control of the body of the individual is the essential goal of the fascist. The negation of a woman’s right to chose, denial of a person’s right to marry whomever he or she wants, interference in the individual’s prerogative to believe or not believe in a deity, all culminate and are summarized in the right of the state to take your life away from you. When that right extends to political justifications, that is the point you know you have the full and unfettered apparatus of totalitarianism on your hands.
And on that brink is where we find ourselves today, with Donald Trump calling for the deaths of his political enemies. Donald Trump has crossed many unacceptable lines in his short but nightmarish tenure as president, but that is the line at which he needs to be stopped in his tracks. When on Thursday, Trump was asked by reporters to provide the names of people who should be held accountable for treason, a crime punishable by death, he named Andrew McCabe, James Comey, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former Justice Department official Lisa Page.
This is the point where the press needs to stop paying the homage of respectful courtesy to Donald Trump. Donald Trump has asked for the deaths of people he doesn’t like. They have not committed treason in any shape or form, according to any sane definition of the word. They have merely done their jobs, and in furtherance of doing their jobs, they have done things that cast Donald Trump in an unfavorable light. For that Trump wants them to die, and in justification for this he has fallen back on that most ancient and disreputable charge of high treason, a rationale abused by every autocrat since Tiberius Caesar.
Enlisting support for the unjust death of human beings, when done by an individual, is conspiracy to commit murder. Trump is asking that people he hates be subjected to state-sanctioned murder, and is therefore guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Trump is an arch criminal who has committed fraud, sexual assault, conspiracy against the United States government with a foreign power, and numerous other crimes. It was only a matter of time before he ventured into murder. It’s time for the press to stop calling him “President Trump,” time to disavow even the respect for the office of President of the United States for the sake of the man. Now has begun Donald Trump’s reign of terror, and he deserves to be treated with according contempt.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.