On Human Scum

…and when enough is enough

Dave Pell
Dave Pell
Nov 21 · 3 min read

These are the three most infamous politicians to describe opponents as human scum: Hitler. Stalin. Trump.

As the simple truths spoken by impeachment witnesses backed him into a corner, the president repeated his use of one of history’s most notorious phrases: “Corrupt politician Adam Schiff’s lies are growing by the day. Keep fighting tough, Republicans, you are dealing with human scum.”

While Trump’s command of history is limited, he is aware of the nature of this particular phrase because he has used it, and been admonished for it, before. The sick attacks on Schiff, particularly using a trope associated with two of history’s most vile antisemites, calls into question when (if ever) Trump’s defenders will finally say enough is enough.

My son is named after my grandfather and my uncle, neither of whom I’d ever meet because of leaders who used phrases like human scum to describe the invented slights of their perceived enemies. I quite literally exist because my father had the courage to stand up and fight against such vile venom. So I said enough a long time ago. I’d urge other clear-thinking Americans to do the same now.

I’m of course not talking to Trumpian henchmen, like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, who place wanton partisanship ahead of patriotism, and who love their miniature-handed grasp on power more than they love their country. I’m talking to those who enable the president in more subtle ways for more conflicted reasons.

Maybe you’re enabling this president because of the value you place on the appointment of like-minded judges or the benefit of lower corporate taxes. Maybe you believe you have a fiduciary responsibility to your company to help it avoid tariffs, or you’re under pressure to keep your social networking juggernaut from being broken up. Maybe it’s party allegiance or respect for the office regardless of who occupies it. Those pressures might seem singular to you. But trust me when I tell you that for a 90-something survivor sitting at home watching this all unfold, those reasons sound all too familiar.

Admittedly, I have no such pressures or conflicts. Having lost his whole family in the Holocaust, my dad hid behind bales of hay as soldiers searched the barn where he hid; then escaped into the Polish forest and spent years fighting the Nazis. My mom escaped from Germany after her mother had to make a Sophie’s Choice to determine which two of her three daughters most closely matched the false passports that provided a one way ticket to freedom. My only pressure in life is to live up to my parents’ ideals and to speak up when I hear the powerful describe a fellow Jew as human scum.

This is an easy choice for me. It’s the only choice. But I urge America’s political and corporate leaders who have less stark biographies and more nuanced conflicts to put their personal pressures aside and say enough is enough; and to stop enabling and empowering a president who would drag America through the mud using the tired tropes of history’s worst offenders.

And if Adam Schiff needs someone to lock arms with or to stand between him and verbal assaults fired nonstop by his intellectual and moral inferiors, then consider this my official offer to volunteer. It’s the least I can do. I exist because of people who were willing to do a hell of a lot more than that.

Dave Pell Writes NextDraft, The Day’s Most Fascinating News.

Dave Pell

Written by

Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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