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I Am An Enemy Combatant

| February 25, 2017

enemy of the people pierre tristam

The author’s keyboard, and the candle a friend gave him in December 1986,
the day he became an American citizen. (© FlaglerLive)

It appears that I am now an enemy combatant. The label isn’t mine. My preferred title is reporter. But a week ago and again yesterday, with more napalm on his tongue, our Supreme Leader declared a good deal of the American media the “enemy of the people.” He also said it makes him “SICK,” exclamation point. Since I am a trifecta of maladies in his kind of eyes—I’m an Arab immigrant, a liberal and a member of the media—I imagine that makes me part of the treasonous horde. That’s without mentioning that I’m on Obamacare (SICK!). Since I’m not about to stop doing the only thing I know how, that makes me a willing, repeat offender, and therefore a combatant.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive.com flaglerlive I’m not packing up for Guantanamo just yet. One of the sad things about Donald Trump’s fixation on an enemy press is that he thinks he invented it. But the press in America has always been treated with about as much respect as accorded whores, gun-control advocates and lawmakers. It’s convenience. This country doesn’t know how to function without enemies, foreign or domestic. Foreign ones are rare, and these days next-to-non-existent, the manufactured enmity of ISIS degenerates and Russian trolls aside. That leaves fellow-Americans. The press, among other plagues, has been filling that role heroically since the Aurora of the Republic, at least in the eyes of government leaders from the president on down to the lowliest city manager.

No need to look far. Trump’s most recent model is none other than President Obama. Obama was polite with the press. But he prosecuted “nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined,” according to New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen was one of his targets. In 2005 he had uncovered George Bush’s illegal, warrantless domestic-spying operation. But it was Obama who pursued Risen—instead of Bush (SICK!)—as if Risen were the traitor. Instead of investigating the Bush administration’s domestic-spying and war crimes, Obama legalized the spying and prompted the FBI to spy on reporters and their phone records, bullying them to reveal sources or testify against them in maneuvers no different than those of the McCarthy era against imaginary communists. So far at least Trump has done none of that, that we know of, and hasn’t even threatened to castrate a reporter, as his hero Vladimir Putin did when he didn’t like a question. But it’s early.


Obama made more use of the Red Scare-era Espionage Act against reporters than his predecessors, but he was really an amateur compared to Nixon. “What is this cock-sucking story? Find out who leaked it and fire him!” Nixon once growled with uncharacteristic restraint to Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser and mass-killer abroad. Nixon also called the press “the enemy.” He had reporters wiretapped. He had their mail opened, a federal crime. Until 1972 he had J. Edgar Hoover, who never knew a privacy law he didn’t break, and like Nixon, thought homosexuals, civil rights marchers, Jews and liberal journalists were all in cahoots with communists. He thought Martin Luther King was the enemy and tried to destroy him by recording him screwing his serial companions–and sending the tapes to King’s wife. That was our protective FBI. It still is.

According to Tim Weiner’s history of the FBI, appropriately called “Enemies,” Hoover kept a list of 24,000 Americans worth imprisoning without charge in concentration camps in the event of a crisis. Journalists were often his targets. He had a simple standard to land someone on the list: anyone who “opposed the American way of life,” language similar to that of Trump’s ill-fated executive order against Muslims, which would have barred entry into the United States to those who bear “hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.” Room for dissent is no longer part of those principles in Trumplandia.


At one time or another we’ve all been the enemy. It’s an American responsibility.


We could remember that even as sugarless cornflakes an ex-president as Dwight Eisenhower knew how to enrage a crowd against the press to score points with the Republican base, as one reporter remembers while covering the 1964 GOP convention from the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The very same day the convention had voted against condemning the John Birch Society, that deranged foster-father of the alt-right, Eisenhower had attacked the media by telling conventioneers that they should not let themselves be divided by “those outside our family, including sensation-seeking columnists and commentators… who couldn’t care less about the good of our party.”

That, from the man subsequent histories have Brillo-scrubbed as a model of non-partisan statesmanship. The Cow Palace exploded.

 “I can still see those shouting, living delegates, rising almost as one man, pointing, cursing, in some cases shaking their fists, not just at the men in the glass booths but at me,”  The New York Times’s Tom Wicker would later write. “In the first moments after Eisenhower’s words, I feared some of the delegates might actually leap over the railing separating them from the press section and attack the reporters gazing in astonishment at this sudden surge of hatred.”

Between that and Trump’s  invectives at the press, nothing has changed, other than the press becoming more meek, more pliant, more sheepish during the campaign, when Trump made it his bitch. Our more serious media organizations have only recently decided to stop playing his games, to call a lie a lie, a liar a liar: If Donald Trump holds a distinction from among his 45 predecessors, it’s that he’s dispensed with pretenses and made a pathology of the lie, reinventing history to suit his fantasies and pre-empting the future by declaring fake all stories not having to do with Melania’s “great work for the country.”  

And yet the distance between his vilification of the press—among other Americans—and his predecessors’ various wars is measured only in our insistence on national amnesia. His particular brand of vulgarity and narcissism aside, which we’d long come to know through his phallic buildings and their slutty interiors, there has yet to be a move by Trump, a single move, a single order, policy, insult, crime or slander that previous presidents haven’t tried or pulled off, if less brazenly, down to his Muslim ban. That was a rather minuscule infraction compared to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and its worse progeny, the Immigration Act of 1924, which outright banned all “Orientals” and Arabs (it was ahead of its time) and restricted entry of Jews, Italians, East Europeans and Africans. Somehow Mexicans escaped notice: they had not yet risen to the level of detectable subhumans in the eyes of Calvin Coolidge and a Congress with a Republican majority nearly identical to today’s brick-masons. That Immigration Act, by the way, did plenty to sour the United States in the eyes of Japan, until then an ally, and help launch it inexorably toward Pearl Harbor.

That “infamy” (talk about amnesiac) then gave us Japanese-American concentration camps, compliments of FDR and his liberal Supreme Court.  The court’s majority included Felix Frankfurter, co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, who nevertheless cheered America’s at least oven-less Dachaus. Current bans will do no less than fuse missiles, one way or the other, our way, but it’s a matter of time before Trump’s serial plagiarists recycle the Alien and Sedition Acts, once the work of John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and, second to His Majesty George Washington, as founding a father as we have. At least Abigail could keep Adams in line. Melania and Ivanka have not been as capable with their Donald. 

Put simply, few American presidents have known how to act without seeing enemies in the press or among vast segments of the American public. American government has never had a Ministry of Truth, at least not in so many words, but thought-policing has never been far from the scope of its snoops and the nooses of its caesars. Stephen Bannon is merely the latest minister of that indispensable agency so rich in hatreds for fellow-Americans, so rich in predecessors: Karl Rove for the lesser Bush, Dick Morris for the original Clinton, Ed Meese, Pat Buchanan and Nancy Reagan for the other Reagan, Spiro Agnew for the man who saw “cock-sucking” stories everywhere.

No wonder we’re the enemy. But we’re not alone. Take heart. We’re often the majority.

In the scheme of things, to be an enemy in America is pretty much a habit of the American heart. It is what all of us at one point or another have been or will be, usually because we’re not the majority color, the majority dogma, the majority party, the right sex, the right amount of deplorable, the alt-right. We never consider ourselves the enemy. It’s the police, the secret services, the trolls (see below) and now the president who call us that. But so be it. To be such an enemy is an American responsibility. It’s a badge of honor. It’s proof of our beloved American citizenship.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

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44 Responses for “I Am An Enemy Combatant”

  1. Ken Dodge says:

    Thanks for the memories, Pierre, but unless you are purveyor of FAKE news, or attribute to imaginary sources, it ain’t about you.

  2. Steven Nobile says:

    Sounds like the only way this planet will ever unite is if we are attacked by aliens from another planet. LOL… Good piece!

  3. brad says:

    You are the the enemy of the people you can’t even tell what fake news is….

  4. Andy says:

    Smartly written, PT.

  5. Iovannitti says:

    Pierre forgot the say he is “stupid”

  6. Veteran says:

    Pierre, at least you admit you’re liberal. The rest of the media claim they are “independent “. What a crock!

  7. rst says:

    I stand with you Pierre…

  8. JasonB says:

    Trump has been bought and paid for …. in Rubles.

  9. Sherry says:

    Notice, everyone. . . trump doesn’t call out ALL the media outlets. They are not ALL the enemies of “the (trump) people”. . . just the ones that dig for FACTS. . . FACTS that make trump look as bad as he really is. From trump’s ego’s perspective. . . you, my dear, Pierre most certainly are one of trump’s enemies. . . but, not ours. . . never ours. . . good article!

  10. Fredrick says:

    Pierre just a couple things.

    1) You are here legally (at least I hope so). You and your family jumped through all the necessary hops. The president has no issue with you and welcomes you as do the rest of us.

    2) The problem he has with the media is when you lie like saying his executive order was against Muslims. You know damn well it was not. Was it rolled out poorly and was it flawed in terms of green card holders and those with visa’s. Yes, it was a disaster however it was not a ban on Muslims.

    Until the “Good Deal of the American Media” to use your term, stops with the bullshit this “war” as you called it, against false, biased and misleading reporting will continue.
    People have had enough of the BS from politicians and from the media… thus we end up with someone like President Trump.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      No no Frederick, you have us mistaken with one of your Hannitized playgrounds. The ban was not on Catholics, Buddhists or Shinto. It was on countries that are 98 to 99 percent Muslim (the breakaway South Sudan aside). And the order illegally favored Christians. That’s why judges from sea to apoplectic sea threw it out. It was a Muslim ban. Period.

      Call anyone a liar again baselessly and you’ll be banned. We’re not going down the rabbit hole of alt-right slanders and alt-realities on this site. Incidentally, how I came to this country is none of your business, nor do my family or I need your patronizing “welcome.” Try respect. It’s more becoming, and I know it’s in you, though clearly with Supreme Leader in charge it’s a language his followers consider as alien as my Arab hide. Try resisting the pitchfork mob for a change.

  11. Joe says:

    “A badge of honor”. I like that.

  12. BlueJammers says:

    Great article, Mr. Tristam. And masterfully written.

  13. YankeeExPat says:

    ” In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.”

    George Carlin

  14. Bill says:

    Trying to gain some glory by identifying with those have been in battle,,,this guy is a gem,

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      You’re right Bill. Flagler County is an Elysian Field of love and tolerance, especially for the press. The ceaselessly admiring proclamations we get from local government are almost as overwhelming as commenters throwing their panties at us and begging us to have their babies. I don’t know how my six-figure salary can stand it.

  15. Gkimp says:

    You said it, not me!

  16. greenbean says:

    Go home pissaire ! We have mutual friends that said you acted this way but I said NO he is a reporter…WRONG
    Liberal FOOL…

  17. Pogo says:

    @YankeeExPat

    Comrade Little Liar TraitorTrump proves anything can become president.

    https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

    https://www.resistancecalendar.org/

  18. Big red says:

    Stop the biased reporting have you ever said anything positive about president trump even i blind squirrel bumps into a nut

  19. Mizz Auggie says:

    I have stayed in a $300.00 per night hotel, but it was a private one, self run, Melbourne beach.I would never stay at a T owned Hotel. Period. Dont care for the mans personality.My Uncle was a muli Mill, came up out o the oil fields, a gentle and giving man. Both he & his wife gave money selflessly to many worthy organizations. I never hear of T giving anything. -Zero. He sued a power corporation in Scotland twice & lost, trying to get them to take down their electric producing Wind Mills, because…. it ruined “his” view from “his” golf course… can you say- shallow?

  20. Richard Smith says:

    People are revealing their “true” colors. Too bad so many of them hide behind anonymity.

  21. Trebordadda says:

    Pierre–Great piece. Needs to be distributed nationally.

  22. BOB says:

    It must be awful for a liberal to wake up every day and remember that Clinton LOST.

  23. another vet says:

    actually how you got here does matter if you are not here legally then you are a CRIMINAL

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      By “another vet” I assume you don’t mean “vetting,” but you could use some: you’re incorrect. There’s been a few attempts to criminalize the status of undocumented immigrants. Thankfully, they’ve all failed, since even our prison system, truly the greatest in the world, could not begin to accommodate the resulting flood, nor do our local police forces–the sane ones, anyway–want to become icy surrogates.

  24. BILL HARVEY says:

    trump and Clinton haters , GROW UP

  25. Mark101 says:

    Well how soon we forget what President Bill Clinton said during his 1995 State of the Union address . Where he said ;

    All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it”

    Democrats cheered when Clinton said that but today Trump wants to do the same thing and we call him out of control.

  26. Fredrick says:

    Pierre,

    Pitch fork Mob? Really?? What do you think is “rallying” this mob? You will say it is the supreme leader and the “alt right”. I will say it is the biased reporting of “facts” that is adding fuel to the fire. Yes the countries listed are predominantly Muslim. However if it was a ban on Muslims, every Muslim country would have been banned and no they were not. That’s fact. It was all people from the 7 countries from the list. Even Agnostics, Buddhists, scientologist (though I question if that is a religion) where included. And it did not include all countries that have Muslims in them which I am sure is every country in the world has. 7 countries identified under the Obama administration having “issues”.
    This “Mob” you reference and the Media is helping to create, is perfectly fine with anyone immigrating to this great country of ours (it must be great if they want to come here, regardless of our many many flaws), but they need to come here legally, and abide by the laws of this great imperfect country. The one thing the “Mob” is happy about is that the laws that are in place are being enforced. The majority of this “mob” / “deplorables” are not really worried about the immigrants that have been living here illegally, and have made themselves part of this great country. But the illegal flow of them has to stop. They need to get in line with everyone else who want to come here.

  27. William Moya says:

    I STAND WITH YOU, BROTHER!

    Your ardent admirer and comrade in arms,

    William Moya, an undetectable subhuman.

  28. Sherry says:

    For those of you who quite mistakenly believe that trump’s ban was had nothing to do with the “Muslim” religion. . . please explain this “unconstitutional harassment” of Muhammad Ali’s son by customs officials at the Fort Lauderdale airport. . . I certainly hope a law suit has been filed. . . this from USA Today:

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials earlier this month at a Florida airport, according to a family friend.

    Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini.

    Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn’t as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”

    When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.

  29. Sherry says:

    and another. . . in this case an Olympics medal winner. . . for the USA. . . this from USA Today:

    Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first female Muslim American to medal for the United States in the Olympics, said Tuesday she was recently detained at U.S. Customs for two hours without explanation.

    Muhammad, who is a native of Maplewood, N.J., said she didn’t know if she was held as a result of the Trump administration’s travel ban but is sure the move was a result of her ethnicity.

    “I don’t know why,” she told the web site Popsugar during a speaking engagement at the MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you.”

    Muhammad, who graduated from Duke, won bronze in team sabre at the Rio Olympics last year. She was also the first American to compete in an Olympics wearing a hijab.

  30. Duncan says:

    I happen to agree with Trump on many fronts but I still think he is one of the most dangerous people on the planet now that he has won the Presidency. Trump is the epitome of a narcissist, and his behavior has no place in the Presidency. He has no sense of humility and that is his biggest vice. Someone who thinks he is the smartest man on the planet, lacks experience, lashes out at criticism and wields the power of POTUS is just plain scary.

    Albeit, CNN is most defiantly liberal and Fox News is most defiantly conservative…(and then you have total bone heads like Shawn Hannity who is just a propagandist ass with a following!) The only thing that is keeping Trump somewhat grounded is the Press. Calling him on his BS is of the utmost importance; based on his comments I truly believe he things the average American is just plain stupid; without the Press providing facts to combat “Team Trumps” Fake News”, ( after all when was the last time Kellyanne Conway went a day without disseminating Fake News) how would the average American be able to weigh Fake News against fact?

  31. Pogo says:

    @Richard Smith

    I know what you mean. Is there anything as disgusting as KKK shitheads hiding under their sheets? Or the right wing oil tycoons who have spent billions of dollars fighting to fuck over the working poor; pollute the world, fuel military spending, eliminate any law that limits the power and advantages of the wealthy to buy their way out of any crime? If things keep going on this path, who knows, we could see a bigly liar and mad man elected president while hiding his tax returns.

    Wouldn’t it be great if people all over the world got together and shouted: YOU LIE, when the TraitorTrump stands before the joint session of Congress?

  32. Geezer says:

    Pierre, count me in as a collaborator.

  33. Richard Smith says:

    @Mark101 – That’s why most of the same people posting their left wing democratic views over and over again at FlaglerLive are hypocrites. They conveniently forget what previous democratic presidents stated and stood for over the years. All they want to do is bad mouth ANY president that isn’t as liberal as they are so they start flapping their mouths out both sides.

  34. Richard Smith says:

    @Pogo – I guess so, why not, it won’t change anything. The same thing happened when former president Obama stood up and lied about his affordable healthcare plan. He lied again about Benghazi, and again about the Iran deal. In fact here are four long pages of Barack Obama lies assembled by PolitiFact available to read by any left wing hypocrite.

    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/statements/byruling/false/

  35. Pogo says:

    @Richard Smith

    Buy your cherry picker from Rush Limbaugh? Anyway, cheer up – you literally have nothing to look forward to:

    Treasonous liar and creep:
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

    Best president (elected and re-elected by popular vote and electoral college) of this millennium:
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/

    Speaking of Yemghazi and Black Osprey Down:
    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html

  36. Jack Howell says:

    I respect you Pierre both as a journalist and as a friend.

  37. Edith Campins says:

    Well said, Mr. Tristam, as usual. Now, more than ever, we count on a free press to bring us the facts.
    I’ve seen a lot of comments about fake news but the only falsehoods I’ve read have come from Trump.

  38. Sherry says:

    Everything is relative. . . let’s compare Politifact “grades” side by side, shall we?

    trump:

    84% of his statements are not completely accurate
    33% FALSE
    17% PANTS ON FIRE
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

    Obama:

    53% not completely accurate
    12% FALSE
    2% PANTS ON FIRE
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/

  39. JasonB says:

    @Richard Smith

    Here are 7 long pages of Trump’s lies …….. and he’s been President a month:

    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/

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