May 23rd, 2017

Terrorism and language: Trump and the evil losers

Last night commenter “Sergey” made the observation that Trump is “the most underestimated politician I heard about…He thinks outside the box, not even thinks, but grasps and sees what nobody else can grasp and see.”

I don’t know how cerebral Trump’s behavior is or how instinctual. But Sergey has a point, because Trump—not an articulate man in the usual sense—now and then demonstrates an uncanny ability to put his finger on something in an unexpected and savvy way.

I thought of that when I read of Trump’s response to the terrorist attack in Manchester, when he said of the perpetrator and his fellow terrorists:

They were evil losers.

I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that was a great name. I will call them losers from now on. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers, just remember that.

Trump made a point that I don’t think I’ve seen made by any other head of state, and I think it shows psychological astuteness. I refer to his observation that the terrorists would like to be considered monsters by the West, and so he won’t give them that satisfaction.

Monsters, after all, are larger than life, more powerful, scarier. If one major goal of a terrorist is to strike fear (and it is), calling terrorists “monsters” lets them know that that mission has been accomplished. “Evil losers” as a substitute is a very interesting construction, because it combines the strongly moral negative (“evil”) with a word that conveys weakness (“losers”). The second word, “losers,” also conveys contempt rather than fear. And contempt is not what they’re looking for.

“Evil losers” isn’t quite an oxymoron, but it’s a phrase using two words that most people wouldn’t think of putting together. It’s not an elegant phrase; no Churchill, he. It’s a bit awkward, which is very Trumpian. But I think it’s psychologically shrewd.

I’m not pretending it will change much of anything. But it sets a tone that makes sense to me.

35 Responses to “Terrorism and language: Trump and the evil losers”

  1. CV Says:

    It was noted over on PJ media that “loser” is a very specific insult in Islam and the Quran.

    Whether or not Trump chose that particular word on purpose (and I tend to doubt it), it is interesting (and apropos regardless):

    https://pjmedia.com/blog/liveblogevent/tuesdays-hot-mic-8/entry-208473/comments/

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    CV:

    Trump is famous for insulting people, and for decades “loser” has been his favorite insult.

  3. Ymar Sakar Says:

    With the alt right backing him, almost any propaganda chant like “Yes we can” or “Allahu Akbar” would achieve the same results.

  4. Oldflyer Says:

    Well, I don’t think we hold many, if any, Presidents to Churchillan standards; not even when they are reading someone else’s words from a teleprompter or notebook (going back to JFK). As an aside, there are few in the United States who had the classical education of Sir Winston, who was to the manor born.

    On the other hand, many people, of which I am one, don’t really care how eloquent the President is so long as he is thinking clearly, and acting in our interests.

    I think it fair to say that when Trump focuses on being President, he does a pretty damn good job. It is when he lets the sand fleas goad him into distraction that he is not so impressive.

  5. CV Says:

    Scott Adams says labeling terrorists “losers” is yet another example of Trump’s brilliance as a master persuader:

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/160986020961/goodbye-isis-hello-losers

  6. DNW Says:

    I have watched and re-watched Trump being greeted at the airport by Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, and am fascinated by the unrestrained sentiment and warmth of their expressions toward him.

    I don’t think that I have ever seen anything quite like it from a “head of state”, though possibly outside of the camera’s range there may have been similar expressions between Bush and Blair, or who knows: FDR and Churchill … though I doubt the latter.

    Whether accurate or not, when people have the belief that Trump has made a commitment to their well-being, they really seem to believe it.

    Given how fickle and feckless our modern Democrat-ridden democracy has become, it is a wonder that anyone, at any time, puts any faith at all in this country, so long as there is a Democrat in office anywhere.

  7. AesopFan Says:

    https://pjmedia.com/andrewmccarthy/2017/05/23/condemning-manchester-terrorist-murder-of-children-in-the-company-of-abbas/

    No exception to the perennial folly of American administrations, regardless of party, President Trump dreams of forging peace between Israel, our ally in the Western democratic tradition, and the Palestinians, an amalgam of sharia supremacists and hard-Left kleptocrats, for whom the obliteration of the Jewish State is the ne plus ultra. Thus, did the president have the misfortune of being in the company of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when news broke of the terrorist attack targeting children and young adults at a concert in Manchester.

    Trump and Abbas stood side-by-side in Bethlehem as the American president condemned the terrorists as “evil losers in life” — “radical Islamic terrorism” having evidently been retired from Trump’s repertoire while he meets with regimes that support radical Islamic terrorism.

    Abbas, it bears emphasizing, is an utterly unfit “peace partner.”

    Though he still clings to power in the thirteenth year of his four-year term, he does not even control the Palestinian territory — his rival, the Hamas jihadist organization, runs Gaza. His Fatah faction, the legacy of master-terrorist Yasser Arafat, sports its own terrorist wing (the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade). It spends much of its time glorifying jihadists who mass-murder Jews, including Jewish children, naming streets and monuments in their honor.

    Abbas’s presence during Trump’s remarks about an especially barbaric terrorist attack called to mind a similarly savage incident I described in The Grand Jihad:
    ..(there follows an account of the murder of Danny Kaiser and his daughter, by 16-year-old Samir Kuntar, one of a “team of terrorists sent by Abu Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Front”)…
    Elder of Ziyon pointed out that this honoring of Kuntar — whom Israel is accused of assassinating — comes not from terrorist organizations, such as Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, but rather from Fatah, considered by the international community to be moderate, two-state-solution-seekers.

    “This is an extreme case where every civilized person must be appalled by a terrorist who took credit for killing a four-year-old child,” said Dr. Dan Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University.

    Schueftan, an expert on Mideast affairs, was referring to Kuntar’s particularly heinous slaughter of an Israeli family in Nahariya in 1979, when he was 16 years old.

    But, Schueftan told The Algemeiner, “It turns out that nothing is too low or too barbaric — even for the mainstream of the Palestinian national movement — to adulate when it comes to killing innocent Jews. Though Fatah at the moment is reluctant to use massive terrorism, for fear of Israeli counter-measures, it still educates its public to call a child-murderer a hero and a saint.”

    Peace partner? I’m thinking: loser.
    * * *
    We should at the very least quit rewarding Hamas and Fatah, and Iran, and the rest of the Muslim world, for killing Jews or anyone else.
    Drive. Them. Out.

  8. AesopFan Says:

    http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Analysis-Why-cant-Abbas-stop-paying-families-of-martyrs-493701

    President Donald Trump has said he wants to revive the peace process, but has largely refrained from asking Israel and the Palestinians to make major concessions to bring it back to life.

    On Tuesday, however, Trump seemingly made his first major ask of the Palestinians when he indirectly alluded to PLO payments to families of Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs,” many of who were involved in attacking Israelis.

    The only problem with Trump’s request is that Abbas almost certainly cannot fulfill it as prisoners and “martyrs” loom large in Palestinian society and the PA president’s popularity is declining.

    Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs” have always maintained an influential status in Palestinian society. Many of them are seen as the fighters who have carried forward the burden of and sacrificed themselves for the Palestinian cause.

    If Abbas made a move to end payments to prisoners and “martyrs,” he would be inciting the Palestinian public against himself.

    It would appear that the PA president had turned against the Palestinian street in favor of the wishes of the American president.

    Not to mention, Abbas’s popularity is already declining with some 64% of the Palestinian public saying he should resign.

    Thus, the PA president is in no position to take bold measures against the will of the people.

    Instead, Abbas will have to look for other ways to curry Trump’s favor. As one senior PA official said Tuesday, any move against payments to prisoners and “martyrs” would “be nothing short of political suicide.”
    * * *
    Then Trump should demand that they pay with their own money, and quit sending them any of ours.

  9. Mike K Says:

    I think Trump is making the required gestures toward that process which is not a process. Bill Clinton came the closest, mainly by browbeating a weak Israeli leader, and was rebuffed by Arafat. The Europeans are the principle audience for this nonsense. The Democrats are all in the grip of TDS.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW:

    Churchill and FDR were close friends.

  11. John Guilfoyle Says:

    I assure you both “drive them out” and “loser” were specifically chosen by the Trump team because they are Koranic command & insult respectively.

    To believe this appropriation was incidental is to shortchange the President and his team.

    I would venture that “drive them out” like “tear down that wall” will become historically emblematic sooner rather than later.

  12. John Guilfoyle Says:

    PS – comment counter still not keeping track…but that’s a minor thing unless it’s your blog.
    😉

  13. charles Says:

    As a very, and I mean VERY, reluctant Trump voter I have come to appreciate him, more and more, for this very reason.

    He most certainly is underestimated; and he does know how to choose the right words at the right time.

    This is clearly one of those times.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I’m in agreement with neo on Trump on “Evil Loser”. As Arab cultures are ‘shame cultures’ they are extremely sensitive to insults. One phrase that might apply to Trump and, in a complimentary manner… is ‘animal cunning’.

    AesopFan,

    Don’t give up on Trump yet. “Trump to Abbas: There Can Be No Peace When Violence is Rewarded”

    “JERUSALEM – Peace cannot be achieved when violence is rewarded, President Donald Trump said Tuesday at a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.” [my emphasis]

    Nothing in the modern world is more public than a press conference. That puts real political pressure on Abbas. And Trump has to KNOW that Abbas can’t deliver. Which gives Trump another example of his having given ‘peace a chance’. It’s beginning to look like Trump is giving them enough rope with which to hang themselves.

  15. Cornhead Says:

    I think everyone should call them evil losers.

    Victor Davis Hanson says a war isn’t over until the enemy knows it is defeated. Beating ISIS on the battlefield is a big part of this, but the rhetoric drives the nail into the coffin.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    John Guilfoyle:

    You can assure me? Do you have the inside track to Trump’s team?

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that “drive them out” was carefully chosen for that reason. But as I wrote before, “loser” has been one of Trump’s favorite insults for decades. See this, written in 2016:

    His favorite way to disparage something is to call it failing (he’s lobbed a variation of that various enemies at least 66 times since he started running), but he also likes to call a person who has displeased him a lightweight (37), dishonest (36), dumb or dummy (33), bad! (31), sad! (31), a dope or dopey (29), weak (27), a liar (27), a loser (25), the worst (22), boring (21), incompetent (16), biased (15), a disaster (13), a clown (11), a disgrace (6), dying (10), overrated (6), stupid (7), a fraud (7) and not nice (5).

    I once did some research during the campaign season (don’t have time to find it now) on Trump’s insults, and “loser” is something he’s called people ever since he’s been a celebrity.

  17. AesopFan Says:

    John Guilfoyle Says:
    May 23rd, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I would venture that “drive them out” like “tear down that wall” will become historically emblematic sooner rather than later.
    * * *
    I certainly hope so.

  18. Big Maq Says:

    No doubt about it, trump gives good insult.

    Knew a kid in middle school who was talented that way, who could give some kind of insult that wasn’t particularly nasty, but it would stick.

    trump does have a talent there, along with simplifying a sentiment.
    .

    Is banion with him? Seems both media guys would have an eye for the use of the term “loser” vs “monster”.

    I understand that bunion has been behind a number of trump’s speeches. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had a hand in this, though I doubt he wants the attention anymore as the “brains” behind trump.
    .

    Anyway, turning the language around is smart and a good start.

    Much better than saying “radical Islamic …” and getting into a debate if that should be used or not, or that some refused to use it – simpler to say “Evil Losers” – a phrase that all can use and rally behind.
    .

    We’ll have to wait and see what the strategy and follow thru is.

    I would be d*mned impressed if trump (and team) could pull off a ME peace deal.

    THAT would earn him a true “deal maker” legend.

  19. Dave Says:

    Benjamin respects Trump because Ben gets Trump,ironically the world leaders who have shown any respect or even admiration toward Trump were the ones considered by most people the most conpetent at the time being (netanyahu,Putin, xi jinping,Abe and maybe theresa may)

  20. Roy Lofquist Says:

    We have a couple of words that are useful when attempting to characterize people like Trump – savvy and savant.

  21. Yancey Ward Says:

    It is a fascinating topic- you can be sure the media heads were probably exploding trying to find a way to characterize Trump’s characterization as crazy, but it is nearly impossible to do- you can’t try to tell people these suicide bombers aren’t losers without outing yourself as a terror apologist.

    Adams is right, it is freaking brilliant and almost surely came right off the top of Trump’s head with no planning at all. It is refreshing to see a leader say what he is thinking and not allowing all the bullshit political correctness back him into utter inanity in making statements.

  22. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hi Neo

    I can assure you those words were chosen with direct specificity just as surely as you can assume they were “run-of-the-mill” Trump insults. In fact I’ll bet on me heavier this time.

    Surah Ali ‘Imran (3:85)
    “And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.”

    When those words are translated back to his Arab hosts, Abbas at that point, you know Trump rang their bells. Take it to the bank.

  23. Tom G Says:

    Trump’s talent for choosing an insult that sticks is a big part of him winning over Crooked Clinton.

    I liked “Islamofascists”, but that’s as unpronouncable in normal use as “entrepreneur”, another term I like (but have long thought the world would be better with a better term.)

    Losers; and Evil Losers, will stick (like Scott Adams also said). More, much more, verbal competence for the important words than either Bush or Obama or Clinton or any elite.

    This is the single strongest blow against Evil Losing Islamic terrorists since Sirhan Sirhan murdered RFK.

    But we’ll need lots more verbal and even kinetic blows to win; unlikely to be over in 4 years, nor even 8.

  24. steve walsh Says:

    “Islamofascist” is a politically correct weasel word designed to segment a population and confer positive status, on the non-terror committing cohort. As if to say, See, we really don’t blame or hate you.

    “Evil losers” is an insult, it seeks not to protect anyone from verbal harm while it focuses attention on only the perpetrators and supporters of these acts. And, as you say, it is much easier to say and deploy.

  25. Big Maq Says:

    “Like Scott Adams also said” – Tom G

    Back to the idea that the world is full of meat puppets led by the pied master persuader?

    “more, verbal competence for the important words “?

    trump gets credit for a good turn of phrase, but let’s not make it more than it is.

    If all it took was the ability to make an insult stick, we’d be in golden times right now.

  26. Bill Says:

    “This is the single strongest blow against Evil Losing Islamic terrorists since Sirhan Sirhan murdered RFK.”

    I’ve looked at this sentence twenty different ways and I still don’t know what it means. Especially the RFK part.

    The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that killed thousands of terrorists in the early 2000s? Trump was against them because he knew that the real blow, the real defeat, was simply calling them evil losers.

    Trump’s insults. Is there anything they can’t do?

  27. Dave Says:

    Loser is possibly the most insulting thing you can say to someone,seriously,even calling someone an ahole or a j**k still imply there is a certain irrogrance/pride with the individual. Remind me of the movie the avengers,the evil murderous Loki was so full of cockiness and condesending loki the only times he had lost his cool was when that SHEILD agent in his dying breath pretty much called him a loser. Loki lost his cool,tried to argue with the dying man that he aint a loser and that is how the dying agent created an opening to blast that laser at Loki. The other movie example is of course back to the future.

  28. Dave Says:

    Ironically,hillary and obama the two persons who had repeatedly refused to call ISIS losers or other equally derserving demeaning names,never shied from using that strategy on Trump.

    During the whole campaign almost the entire plan to defeat djt was to paint him as a loser and delegitimizing his accomplisments by saying things like “if he didnt get his money from his father he would be selling counterfeit rolex in the streets”。 If you step back and truly think about it djt was truly a remarkable individual,anyone who could withstand that kind of insults and not committing suicide is remarkable.

    People often ignore the fact that even though djt did insult many people he equally received as many insults his way from everywhere,the fact he didnt get his feeling hurt as much as the others showed he was the strongest person mentally in the race. In fact he intentionally created that enviroment bc he knew that atomosphere was more advantagous to him than his opponents and he would thrive in it,it was a stategic move

  29. DNW Says:

    ” neo-neocon Says:

    May 23rd, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    DNW:

    Churchill and FDR were close friends.”

    Yes, of course in the context of a war-time alliance, as allies, they were. That said they had worldviews and ultimate aims different enough to make, I think, them examples of mutual appreciation and respect; and not so much in the way of personal simpatico.

    Roosevelt’s being punked by Stalin, to the point wherein even Stalin express bewilderment at Roosevelt’s naivete, whereas Churchill was farseeing in this regard, is a good example of a real and very substantial difference in the innate critical faculties and abilities of these two men.

  30. Bill Says:

    “the fact he didnt get his feeling hurt as much as the others showed he was the strongest person mentally in the race.”

    Um, possibly Trump’s biggest personal issue affecting his ability to get things done and stay out of twitter-trouble is his inability to let petty slights go. He has legendarily thin skin. And strength of temperament has not been his strong suit.

    HE MADE A GOOD SPEECH. But he needs to gain control of himself, and especially quit wasting time on his petty little revenges against the Comey’s of this world. He owes the country that.

  31. Dave Says:

    I’ll use the Detroit Pistons bad boys as an example, were the Pistons really bad boys or just an image deliberately put on to intimidate their opponents, get under their skins to get an advantage.
    Trump mostly only responds to lies about him on Twitter not insults. Trump may here or there commenting on the quality of anti-Trump comedies on TV but for most part he ignores them. Noticed Trump never cursed in the public under any circumstance, shows that he was always in control of his emotions (Trump does have an habit of using many indecent words in his private conversations as exhibited in the Bush tape so not cursing in the public is a deliberated self-controlled act)

  32. Bill Says:

    I’m not trying to bash DJT (really) – but I can’t go along with this “self-controlled” meme that’s starting to roll here. His first 100 days were undisciplined, petty, and it hurt him. Maybe he’s learning. Who knows? “time will tell” and “we’ll see” and all that.

    “Trump mostly only responds to lies about him on Twitter not insults.”

    The beginning of his presidency was devoted to this ridiculous lie HE was telling about the size of his inauguration crowd and the number of illegal immigrants who supposedly voted for Hillary.

    “Noticed Trump never cursed in the public under any circumstance”

    Well, I haven’t heard him drop the F-bomb so I guess that’s good, in the new low-bar Trump era. But he has publicly cursed a number of times (for example – “We’re gonna bomb the S__t out of them!!!”).

    The Billy Bush tape was done under a hot mic. I don’t remember if he knew he was being recorded but it was an interview.

    This idea that Trump has a public decorum is kind of ridiculous, but I do hope he’s learning.

  33. Big Maq Says:

    “Trump’s talent for choosing an insult that sticks is a big part of him winning over Crooked Clinton.” – Tom G

    Completely disagree.

    It lathered up his base, but it wasn’t instrumental in putting him over the finish line.

    clinton’s ethics were likely already baked into the electorate’s mind, despite the best efforts of the msm.

    She was just a poor choice of a dem candidate on that alone.
    .

    BOTH competitors had some of the worst approval ratings of any POTUS candidates in measurable times. The percentage of the eligible voters each pulled in was similarly low.

    clinton and team made huge strategic errors, clinton herself didn’t have much of a vision to sell (she was mostly “Not trump”) in a country that was ready for change, nor did she have much charisma / likability, and she had huge ethics issues ALREADY hanging over her head.

    And, remember, the msm was very much operating in her favor.

    trump barely won, with some of the thinnest possible margins in the swing states.
    .

    Had that last week been a better news week, she might have pulled it off.

    Instead, the Comey on again off again investigation announcements reinforced that email ethics issue.

    This was more her loss than it was some grand strategy that was well executed on trump’s part, in which “crooked clinton” was a key part.

    trump’s own mutability probably nullified much of any swing he could have gotten from the dems on the clinton’s ethics issue.

    It sure scared away many would be GOP voters.

    trump’s name calling seemed to keep his already fan base juiced up, but that was about it.

    Maybe he’d have lost if he didn’t “entertain” his base, and name calling was key to that? IDK.

  34. Dave Says:

    the Hillary didn’t have a vision to sell angle was overblown, if not having a new message matters no incumbent president would ever win reelections. George W Bush was not known for having any sort of visions.

  35. Big Maq Says:

    In 2000, GWB didn’t have much of one, under his also lack luster label of “Compassionate Conservative” (which has its own connotations of what else conservatism is).

    Gore nearly won.

    And by the next September, whatever vision there was got shattered, so we never did see much emphasis on that vision of his.

    By contrast, Reagan had a heck of a vision, and rode it through two terms, and gave GHWB a huge boost onto the next term.

    As for clinton, that was only one of many problems with her campaign.

    She was a particularly bad choice for the dems, but no other credible candidate was left standing, and sanders’ insurgency didn’t have the backing of their party leadership.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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