Medievalism Watch – Trump and ISIS

Trump likes to compare ISIS to medieval times. Here’s a transcript of the latest debate, and some video.

COOPER: You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?
TRUMP: No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.
You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have — and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times. We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world.
And they look and they see. Can you imagine the people that are, frankly, doing so well against us with ISIS? And they look at our country and they see what’s going on.
Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.”

So beyond Trump avoiding responsibility for his pro-sexual-assault comment by talking ISIS, his “this is like medieval times” comment is a pretty frequent remark for him. Here’s another set of video.


Trump isn’t alone. Obama has talked about ISIS as medieval, as has Fiorina. So have many journalists. Read John Terry on the ISIS issues.

But there’s a broader pattern. As I’ve said many times, the use of “medieval” to impose chronological alterity between us and something we don’t like, is a move intended to deny responsibility for that thing, to deny how neatly it fits in modernity.

And it always fits in modernity very neatly.

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