By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
Trump has taken another big step toward becoming an African dictator.
On Sunday he tweeted a video someone made for him that was posted at a white supremacist site at Reddit.com. It showed him attacking a CNN reporter, WWF style, and wrestling him to the ground. When a snarky insecure white kid posts something like that on Reddit, it is supposed to be a joke (though let’s face it, the whole thing is sad however you look at it). But when the most powerful man in the world does it, it has to be read as a threat.
Real presidents attack real journalists more often than one might hope.
But usually it is dictators who style themselves presidents who engage in this kind of fascist behavior.
Faure Gnassingbé is the President of the West African nation of Togo. He is also the son of the former president of Togo, who died in in 2005 (since that year, Gnassingbé has been president.)
Here is a press release from Togo in 2006 just a year after Gnassingbé came to power:
“The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the attack on Yves Kpeto, a journalist for private radio station Nana Fm, who was beaten by brothers of the President of the Republic of Togo on accusations he had criticized their father, the previous president.
On Sunday November 5 at around 7 p.m., two brothers of President Faure Gnassingbé, who are also sons of the late President Gnassingbé Eyadema, attacked Kpeto at a party in the Agoényivé district of Lomé. They accused Kpeto and his colleagues of constant criticism of their father and biased coverage of events after his death.
Of course, Faure Gnassingbé would have had nothing to do with ordering Yves Kpeto beaten up.
I see some indications on the Web that Kpeto may now be an expatriate in Ireland.
His crime? To have written critically about the father of Faure Gnassingbé
Then there was that time in March 2016 when Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was giving a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in the United States and some Turkish journalists tried to cover it, and he had his security men beat them up. This scene was repeated, mainly with regard to protesters, again this spring.
President Saddam Hussein of Iraq invited freelance British reporter Farzad Bazoft to Iraq several times during the 1980s. Saddam liked Bazoft, who was of Iranian origin, because he opposed the Khomeini revolution. Bazoft typically filed for the Manchester Guardian newspaper, though he wasn’t an employee. On a fall 1989 invited trip, Bazoft unwisely investigated an explosion at a munitions plant (possibly a chem production site) while in country. Saddam Hussein had him arrested and beaten up, and possibly drugged. He was sentenced him to death, and then hanged in spring of 1990.
Farzad Bazoft, d. 1990
Bazoft’s crime? To look into a news story that the president did not want investigated.
You will say that Trump’s tweeted video didn’t show him killing anyone, just beating someone up. But you see, that is how it begins.