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On Tuesday’s episode of “The Michael Knowles Show,” Knowles talks about Trump’s use of canine imagery in Sunday’s press conference, in which he announced the killing of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Video and partial transcript below:
Three reasons why this picture of the soldier is so terrific: [it] doesn’t put soldiers in harm’s way, it gives us some details on the raid and satisfies that desire we have to know about it — to kind of picture the justice that’s being exacted. The third reason is the strategic reason, which is that the dog serves special significance here, carries real importance.
You’ll remember in Trump’s announcement on Sunday, President Trump invoked a lot of dog imagery — not just the imagery of the dog hunting down Baghdadi, but the imagery of Baghdadi dying like a dog. Here’s President Trump:
TRUMP: He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way …
The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him …
Baghdadi was vicious, and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying. He died like a dog, he died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.
He died like a dog. Trump has reiterated this time and time again. There is a contradiction here, because on the one hand, we’re exalting the heroism of this very, very, good dog who hunted down Baghdadi. Then, we’re hearing about the cowardice of dogs. But what is permeating all of the narrative is this canine imagery. I don’t think this is just a coincidence.
You know, Trump actually does choose his words carefully. I know he gets assailed all the time for using loose words and he does. He exaggerates, he talks like a New Yorker, but he actually uses very precise words. He doesn’t use words elegantly, but he does use words carefully. That is how Trump has been a successful communicator for 40 years, that’s how he’s been successful on TV, and in the tabloids, and in the press, and in politics.
You saw this in his letter to Turkey, when he wrote that letter to Turkey, which said [paraphrased] “We should have a good deal. Don’t be so stupid. People will look at you like the Devil if you make a bad deal. But if you work with us, you’ll make a good deal.” That letter to Turkey was written in a very elementary style, using small words and simple concepts. That was to communicate to a broad audience.
You see it in the nicknames. Trump doesn’t just choose random arbitrary words for his political opponents — he hones in on that perfect nickname that sticks with them forever. So “Crooked Hillary,” he tried out a few others. He tried “Low Stamina Hillary,” [but] that was no good. There have been other nicknames for Hillary in her 40 years in politics, [but] crooked just sticks like glue.
“Sleepy Joe,” he didn’t go for creepy Joe, [which] was the obvious choice because when he gave him the nickname Joe was doing all those shoulder massages. He used a word that rhymes with Creepy Joe, so it invokes it, but it’s sleepy to show that Joe doesn’t have any endurance, that Joe is falling apart, that he’s old, that he’s past his prime. And that has actually been the enduring attack on his campaign. You saw it with “Little Marco” and “Low-energy Jeb.” These are very careful words, and you’re seeing it here in the imagery about the dogs.
Why? Because in Islamic culture, dogs are considered filthy. Dogs are impure, dogs are evil in the modern Islamic conception of them — ritually impure. The mere sight of a dog during prayer can be considered to negate the prayer of the faithful in Islam. Why is this? Because historically, in Islam, dogs would eat the trash in the cities. This is true in many cities, but especially true as Islam moved out of the desert and moved into the great big cities of the Islamic world. The dogs were relied on to eat the trash and keep people safe. However, as the connection between the proximity to garbage and filth and trash became associated with the spread of disease, dogs were looked on as filthy because they were the ones eating all the trash.
So what Trump is doing here is in his initial statement, he’s saying Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not die as a great martyr. He didn’t die courageously, he died like a dog — like the filthiest thing you could possibly imagine. And then when he releases the photo, it’s almost worse than releasing a photo of Baghdadi’s blown up body, because if he releases the photo of the dog, he says your great terrorist leader was run down and chomped on by a dog.