Talibanapalooza Wonkery

Trump And ISIS Terrify Us Because We Can’t Explain Them

Trump, like Daesh, is one of those things not easily explained.

This week Rachel Maddow told the world she had Trump’s tax returns. We held our breath. And then she told the world that it looks like Trump paid taxes.

Which wasn’t the smoking gun we hoped it would be.

Because what the “Resistance” wants more than another small batch vegan latte is validation of our feelings for the most orange man in the world. What we don’t want is a nuanced explanation that what’s happening in the White House isn’t all bigotry and hate.

For the record: the Trump presidency is the worst thing that’s happened to democracy since American Idol. And I’m sure the French when they invented government by the people figured the people knew what they were doing.

Even though people, it turns out, will buy things like pet rocks, parachute pants, and Conway Twitty albums.

People do not always act in the best interests of people.

If Trump released the documents in order to shut down some of the debate, it’s a master stroke of non-self-recrimination that deserves at least grudging respect for the attempt at Machiavellian machinations. And it’s something we want to understand.

But trying to understand Trump and his administration is like trying to understand why ISIS would kill 50 people in a hospital in Kabul.

That there is what you call a segue. You’re welcome.

Yeah, I’m going full Batman on this one, because it’s a remarkable reference to how chaos sometimes reigns. Plus, I’m a little tired of looking up Jeff Goldblum’s Jurassic Park clips and it’s hard to find a GIF of water dripping off Dr. Ian Malcom’s hand.

What people hoped the tax return might do is explain Trump. Connect him and his advisers to something heinous enough that we can ease the Angriest Orange in the World out of the White House and replace him with something that at least pretends to be an adult. And that’s what we want when it comes to explaining the alleged Islamic State attack on Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul this past week.

I throw “alleged” in there because even though Daesh claimed the event, that’s an easy thing to do, and means more credibility than “splinter group from the splinter group formed from the splinters of the Taliban.”

We need an explanation for why it happened because for most of us, Daesh is an alien hive mind and should have spaceships so we can see Randy Quaid as a saner version of himself again and we can dream a world where Bill Putnam could be president.

But we can’t explain Daesh, not in terms that make sense. Or that would make sense to anyone that thinks burning someone alive in a cage is horrifying even when it’s just Nicholas Cage and he’s screaming about bees. And also thinks that said burning alive is sickening when it’s a real human being.

I’m not saying Nick Cage isn’t a human being. Just that he was a character in a movie when he was burned alive. It’s pretend, and therefore less bad.

We can’t explain Trump and the rest of his administration, either. For the same reasons. We’d like to. Because we need an explanation for how it all went so wrong.

We need someone to tell us how we could go from eight years of progress to a man who hates old people so much he’s going to take away Meals on Wheels. And putting tragedies like a Trump presidency or an attack on a Kabul hospital into reasonable terms just isn’t possible.

So we’re disappointed when Maddow’s announcement turns out to be that Trump paid some taxes one time. Since that doesn’t map out how we got the Donald. And we’re disappointed when no one can put enough context together to explain how anyone would shoot wounded soldiers in their beds.

We can point to the things that got us here. Blame bigotry for getting out the Trump vote. Put the onus on US foreign policy for the creation of the Islamic state.

All of that’s true.

And then we look to the Maddows of the world to bring it together. To show us how it all fits. And maybe how we can make it not happen again.

50 families in Afghanistan would like to understand. They’d like to see it not happen again. It probably will. So will Trump. We’d all like to know why.

Because what we need is a reason. We want to understand. And some things are beyond us.

Also published on Medium.