About four weeks ago, John Oliver reamed Donald Trump on his show Last Week Tonight. During his approximately 21 minute monologue, he deconstructed several myths about Trump, including that he’s a good builder, that he’s good with money, that he’s tough, and that he’s President-material. However, I had a hard time paying attention because of an absurd assertion he posited early in the broadcast: that Donald Trump is likable.
Oliver is not the first person to say they like Trump. People like going to his Tower and family weddings. They like watching him on The Apprentice. They gleefully talk about his golden living room to their friends. They like his absurd, patently fake hair. Whenever you hear people talk about why they’re supporting him, likability is a factor, so much so that people will blithely ignore his clearly racist, unconstitutional, sexist, and bigoted remarks.
While I understand that the man is a spectacle and why his supporters would like him, I don’t understand how Oliver or other people like him can say the same. I don’t understand what is entertaining about him. I don’t understand why people would want to hear the things he spews, regardless of how unpredictable he is. I don’t understand how Donald Trump, a man who has raped and abused his own wives and stated he would have sex with his own daughter if she weren’t related to him, could ever be considered likable. Orange skin and flyaway hair be damned.
Here is what I want people to understand: unpredictability and meanness do not have to equal entertainment and likability. Saying something unexpected can be humorous, but do you laugh when your racist boss points to a black man who’s just split coffee on his shirt and says, “Well, there’s an argument for us evolving from monkeys”? No, you absolutely do not because that is a horrible thing to say. Unless you are racist, you would not laugh and then go around saying, “Hey, listen to what Bill said. It’s hysterical.” Instead, you would let the moment pass in awkward silence, possibly report the incident, and go on with your day.
You would also forever associate Bill with what he said, and it would color your perception of his behavior forever. If he passes up a talented, experienced black woman to hire a white man, is it because he’s racist? If he only invites his white coworkers to Fourth of July barbeques, is it because he’s racist? If you hear that he’s been making racist remarks and jokes about some of the other employees, would you believe it? Yes, of course you would!
So we need to divorce ourselves from the notion that Trump is likable or entertaining because he is crude and illogical. We must also divorce ourselves of the notion that what he says has nothing to do with his worldviews or policies. So stop watching his shows. Stop supporting his products. Stop laughing when he says something, even if it doesn’t happen to be cruel. Stop assuming that there are facets to this man, that he is a decent human being. Stop comparing him to the picture of Hitler holding a child’s hand. Who cares. It’s not important. All that is important is that we start retraining ourselves to understand one simple truth: Donald Trump is not funny and he should not be encouraged.