The other day I alluded to Donald Trump's bizarre comments about closing off part of the Internet. But I realized that a mere allusion doesn't do it justice. Actually, nothing does it justice. But it does at the very least bear having a more focused light shone on it. Especially with my having just come back from covering the Consumer Electronics Show and been deluged wall-to-wall-to-wall with an ocean and mountain range and forest of non-stop technology where the concept of closing off part of the Internet wouldn't even be able to make it through the distant outer edges of the 170,000 attendees, but left to die of dehydration, malnutrition and self-inflicted injuries in the surrounding Mojave Desert..
Yes, I know that the concept of Donald Trump saying something idiotic, near-fascistic and despotic is no longer news. But sometimes you just have to address the idiotic, near-fascistic and despotic for its own sake.
What Donald Trump said was on the level of thinking that the Internet is a "series of tubes," as former senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) once stated -- or President George W. Bush (R-TX) referring to it as the "Internets." Or my mother asking what email is. Though with more pompous malevolence.
"We're losing a lot of people because of the Internet," he began, apparently trying to make some point. Given the benefit of the doubt and bending far over backwards, if Donald Trump is talking about people dying because of what terrorists do communicating through the "tubes," it's a fair response to say that there is a humongously massive more amount of people who are "lost" every day around the world due to guns or car crashes or falling in the bathtub, than a year of the Internets.
Then again, maybe that’s not what Donald Trump is talking about at all. Maybe he thinks the Internet is such a confusing place, that some people dive in and are never heard from again. I have no idea. But let’s assume the former, because it seems more in keeping with how Donald Trump like to try and rile up people.
And if so, or even whatever he’s talking about, Donald Trump has a solution. Well, okay, he doesn't actually have a solution, because he acknowledges he doesn't actually understand the problem, though he has a guess that other smarter people do. And okay, yes, it's a really bad guess and wrong, but to be fair that never stopped the guy before.
"We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening."
Now, mind you, while I'm sure that Bill Gates has plenty of contacts in the tech world who he could get together with a phone call (though probably so too could Lebron James, George Lucas, or Beyonce), the thing is that as for Bill Gates himself doing something, it's important to understand -- as long as Donald Trump wants to deal with the concept of "really understanding" -- that Bill Gates hasn't actually worked in technology for close to a decade, given that he retired from Microsoft in 2008. He and his wife have been running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for charity since then -- doing more for the world good in a year than Donald Trump has likely even thought about in his lifetime. But from his statement, it seems like the words "Bill Gates" may be the only name in high-tech that Donald Trump could think of at the moment. Hey, at least he didn't suggest Steve Jobs.
More to the point, though, I'm guessing that any of those "lot of different people" who really understand the Internet understand that what Donald Trump is suggesting is idiotic, near-fascistic and despotic. Like when he says --
"We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people."
Actually, no, what somebody will say, at least first, is -- "This is idiotic because it's not how the Internet works. It actually is not a series of tubes that you can switch on and off and close up in some ways." After all, if he looked at countries who did try such a thing, like oh, say, China and Saudi Arabia and Iran -- seemingly Donald Trump's role models -- you know, despotic, authoritarian places like that, it required the government getting involved, imposing themselves on their citizens' lives, and creating laws and shutting down websites and more.
And for the record, "foolish people" are those who don't actually understand what they're talking about and try to make it sound like they do. "Foolish people" are those who say they oh-so dearly Want to Make America Great again, while not understanding what is the very foundation of America, and make suggestions that would rip out the guts of all that and destroy it. Okay, those last people aren't just foolish, but near-fascistic and despotic. But you get the idea.
Hey, if Donald Trump (R-Trump Towers) really wants some ideas, here's one: perhaps he could get some of his construction buddies and build a wall around the Internet. Or at least certain areas of it.
By the way, to be clear, there are very bad and seriously dangerous uses of the Internet -- just like there are very bad and seriously dangerous uses of guns, and cars, and the telephone, and private mail. And so much more in life. That's not the issue, The issue is the idiotic, pointless, empty-headed, ignorant, despotic, bad and seriously dangerous suggestions Donald Trump was making to deal with the reality.
But in the end, this is not about Donald Trump and his hollow emptiness. It's about the people who actually think he should be President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the American armed forces, and the most powerful man in the world, and support him. Because without them, Donald Trump would just be the former host of a TV game show, who works in real estate. Trying to figure out the Internets. And how his remote works.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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