Time Magazine’s choice for the 2017 “Person of the Year” brings to mind something I wrote in 2016 after Donald Trump was so named. Because the essay is particularly relevant in light of this year’s issue, I have reprinted it here.
Last Friday Donald Trump said something profoundly fundamental to who he is and how he sees the world. It would be easy to let go with a sigh and eye roll, Trump’s comments at a Baton Rouge rally last week regarding his being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Of course, he was going to boast and congratulate himself on the recognition, apparently ignoring the fact that it is not necessarily an honor to be named. Or perhaps he does not know that the Ayatollah Khomeini, Hitler and Stalin are in that fraternity.
It was not Trump’s preening braggadocio, but what he said to the crowd afterward that is important. “You know, Time Magazine, they were both nice and a little bit wise guy yesterday…. They gave me the ‘Person of the Year.’ It used to be the ‘Man of the Year.’ Now it’s ‘Person of the Year.’ That’s good. They’re politically correct. They were very politically correct.”
Trump went on to suggest that changing the issue title to “Person of the Year” was illustrative of something deeply problematic: “That could be why the magazine business isn’t so great. I don’t know,” he said.
Again, this particular declaration might seem like a minnow swimming in a sea of bombast, but if one were to ask just what Trump is trying to accomplish, she just might see something more akin to a great white.
So, what is he saying? That it was a bad thing for Time Magazine to change the name of the issue from “Man of the Year” to “Person of the Year”. Yes. And why is that bad? Trump says it’s because it was done out of political correctness.
According to Google Dictionary, political correctness is “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.”
Does Time Magazine’s decision in 1999 to change the name of the “Man of the Year” issue to “Person of the Year” exemplify this definition? I would say no, and here’s why. From the inception of Time’s “Man of the Year” in 1927 to when the title was changed in 1999, four women and several groups that included women had already been named. And in the years after 1999, even more women have been acknowledged.
Women are not men; they are persons. Whether the title “Man of the Year” is insulting to half the world’s population is arguable, but it’s just fact that the former title was inaccurate. What I don’t consider debatable, though, is the marginalization and insult implicit in Donald Trump’s suggestion that value is not found in personhood, but in manhood. Perhaps that explains why Trump feels entitled to force himself on women simply because he wants to and can get away with it.
When one takes into consideration Trump’s past words and actions, it doesn’t take a leap of logic to detect the underlying message he sent on Friday: men are in charge, they can say and do whatever they want, and if someone objects, they must be bowing to the gods of political correctness. The complainers are to be shamed, ridiculed, and ultimately dismissed as weaklings who can’t take a punch. Tolerance and civility are for losers.
Donald Trump and his worldview will not make America great again. It is abundantly clear that, in Trump’s mind, greatness applies only to the image reflected in his personal funhouse mirror. It’s up to the citizens of this nation to reject Trump’s divisive and dangerous rhetoric, so that we may preserve what is truly great about our country.