Trump World is turning into the worst sort of LSD trip imaginable. First, Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades lambasted in all capital letters—meaning shouting—FAKE NEWS, which in his mind is any press account with which he disagrees. Now, Trump is reinventing history, suggesting in an interview that what we know from history books; first-hand accounts, including handwritten letters and diaries; and countless films and television documentaries is FAKE HISTORY. According to Trump, Andrew Jackson, a vicious slave owner and genocidaire of Native Americans, could have prevented the Civil War, even though Jackson died sixteen years before the war began.
The attempt to rewrite history to fit some preconceived notion did not start with Trump. That distinction largely falls to Lynne Cheney, who pushed for changes in public school history curricula as early as 1994. Ms. Cheney decided that American school children were exposed to too many “grim and gloomy” subjects like the Ku Klux Klan and Joe McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts. Cheney favors a revised view of history, one that paints the antebellum and Reconstruction South as some sort of Uncle Remus paradise, where whites and blacks got along just fine—with the enforced stipulation that blacks “knew their place.” And for good measure, school children should be taught that all that nonsense about George Washington and the cherry tree and tossing a silver dollar across the Potomac River, coupled with young Honest Abe Lincoln’s numerous ten-mile foot treks to the library to return books on time, really occurred. So, for Cheney and her like-minded white country club biddies, school children should learn all about Uncle Remus and Uncle Tom but never Frederick Douglass—who Trump believes is still alive—and Dred Scott.
In his recent interview, Trump said, “The Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask the question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump believes that Americans don’t ask enough questions about the Civil War, as if the thousands of books on the subject do not exist and one of the most-watched Public Broadcasting System series, “The Civil War,” never aired. Trump obviously never walked into a bookstore when the Civil War series was first aired. Americans bought books on the Civil War by the hundreds of thousands and, eventually, into the millions. It is doubtful that Trump has ever read a book, including the “Art of the Deal” that was ghost-written for him. One has to wonder where Trump gets his “Fractured Fairy Tale” version of history.
Obviously, in Trump’s alternate universe, Jackson would have mollified the southern states to the point they would not have wanted to secede from the Union. What Trump does not appreciate is that when Jackson, like Abraham Lincoln, was faced with a South Carolina that decided to go its own way, Jackson threatened military force.
In 1832, South Carolina state legislators nullified a federal tariff within its borders. The issue of states’ rights was so intense, Jackson’s vice president, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, resigned in protest of Jackson’s dispatch of federal troops into South Carolina. Jackson would have likely been tougher on the 1850 Southern secessionists than Lincoln.
Faced with South Carolina’s Nullification Act in 1832, Jackson said to a South Carolina U.S. representative in very non-Lincolnesque language, “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.” In fact, one of those who Jackson threatened to hang for treason was former Vice President Calhoun, who was appointed a U.S. Senator from South Carolina by the secessionist governor of the state.
Far from assuaging the South, if Jackson were president in 1860, instead of Lincoln, the Confederacy would not have only been put down quickly by force, but Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and their allies would have all been hanged as traitors. However, with Jackson as president, slavery would have survived intact. Perhaps that is Trump’s perfect alternate history: a Southern rebellion put down with a bloodbath meted out to the insurrectionists but with the benefit of the continuation of slavery.
In his view of Jackson and the Civil War, it is obvious that Trump despises Lincoln. In fact, a portrait of Jackson now hangs in the Oval Office with Lincoln nowhere in sight. This is a view of history that Lynne Cheney must love. She has bemoaned the attention that Harriet Tubman and her Underground Railroad receives in American history textbooks. Cheney falsely believes that American black revolutionary soldier Crispus Attucks receives more attention in history books than Paul Revere. Cheney, like Trump, are just dog whistling to racists across the country.
Then there is Trump’s other FAKE HISTORY escapade. After buying a northern Virginia golf course in 2009, now known as the Trump National Golf Club, he had erected along the banks of the Potomac River a flagpole and plaque commemorating the Civil War’s “battle” at “Blood River.” The only problem is that there was never any such battle on the site of the plaque, which actually reads: The River of Blood: Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot, “The Rapids,” on the Potomac River. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as “The River of Blood.” It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River.—Donald John Trump.
The only recorded Battle of Blood River occurred in 1838 between warring Zulu tribes and involving Boer mercenaries on the banks of the Ncome River in Zululand, South Africa, years before the U.S. Civil War and on another continent.
The battlefield site is as fake as Kellyanne Conway’s Massacre of Bowling Green and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s Atlanta terror attack, both allegedly carried out by jihadist terrorists. The problem for the country is that Trump has so many brain-dead sycophantic loyalists, that they will always believe in the Blood River battle and the Bowling Green and Atlanta massacres. But, just as with Trump believing that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Lee Harvey Oswald had breakfast with Rafael Cruz in New Orleans in August 1963, many Trump fans believe that NASA never landed twelve astronauts on the moon and that the Earth is flat.
Trump’s view of foreign history is as skewed and bewildering as his command of American history. In an interview with Fox News, Trump criticized Presidents Clinton and Obama for being “outplayed” by “this gentleman” in North Korea, meaning Kim Jong-un. However, Clinton’s negotiations with North Korea were under the rule of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, while Obama negotiated with Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il. Apparently, Trump believes that the 33-year old Kim Jong-un has been in power in North Korea for the last 25 years.
During the miserable eight years of George W. Bush, this editor often riled up Washington’s literati with the simple statement that George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act and chose Dan Quayle as his vice president to prepare America for its first mentally-retarded president. In retrospect, the charge was unfair. Donald Trump now makes George W. Bush look like an American version of Rome’s Pliny the Younger—a thoughtful statesman.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).