It is disappointing to have to write this, as Gerry Chidiac’s articles are usually interesting and thought provoking even if one does not agree with them.
However, his recent article on Donald Trump does a disservice to both the arguments presented and those reading them. From statements about the lenient treatment of war criminals to assertions that Trump’s presidential predecessors completely failed to “improve the lives of ordinary Americans,” the article is overly simplistic and at times ignorant, wilfully or otherwise, or world history and wider debates.
Bringing King Leopold II of Belgium’s depravity into proceedings was particularly confusing. What is the author trying to imply? Should individuals like Trump and Jeffrey Epstein be viewed more leniently because long-dead European royals managed to get away with similar behaviour? The Belgians disowned their former ruler generations ago. Even in his lifetime, they criticized his treatment of the Congo and forced him to relinquish control of it. Regardless, this long-dead European monarch apparently serves as an illustration of modern hypocrisy towards contemporary debauchery. I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t convinced.
However, by far the most egregious claim in the article is Chidiac’s assertion that “very few” Nazi war criminals were held to account in the West and most were allowed to return to “their normal lives.” That is a gross exaggeration. True, not everyone culpable or complicit in Nazi war crimes was prosecuted. But does that mean the majority got away with them? Absolutely not. The author then goes on to claim that in Eastern Europe many Nazi collaborators are revered as national heroes. Apart from being overly simplistic, this also neglects the fact that Eastern Europe was formerly part of the Soviet Union, a place the author had praised in the previous sentence for being more diligent in holding such people to account. The author seems oblivious to this contradiction.
The overall point Chidiac tries to make is one deserving of engagement, but being overly simplistic undermines his case and creates many complexities and inconsistencies that the author is either unaware of or simply ignores. Readers deserve better.