Today — January 7, 2021 — serial loser Donald Trump finally finished first. His criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has now killed more Americans than any wartime enemy head of state in US history.
All-time top killers of Americans:
- US President Donald Trump, COVID-19: 371,278 US dead in 9 months
- Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Civil War: 370,000 US dead in 4 years
- Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler, World War II European Theater: 213,407 US dead in 4 years
- Japanese Emperor Hirohito, World War II Pacific Theater: 162,525 US dead in 4 years
Is it fair to equate war deaths with pandemic deaths?
Yes. Trump has callously and consistently sacrificed American lives to fuel his futile bid to cling to power.
From the start, he has deceptively downplayed the lethal threat, spewed quackery and misinformation, suppressed testing to conceal the spread of the virus, ridiculed scientific and medical authorities, modeled and encouraged irresponsible behavior, held deadly superspreader rallies, mocked mask wearing and social distancing, excoriated and undermined science-informed state and local leaders for issuing stay home orders, and encouraged reckless economic reopenings despite spiking infection and death rates.
He took no responsibility at all.
Last spring, he forced thousands of Americans in COVID hotspots overseas to return home hastily — but failed to test and quarantine them as they arrived — ensuring that many became stateside superspreaders.
After losing the election, he could have dedicated himself to saving American lives. He could have urged us to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas responsibly, to limit the size of our holiday gatherings, to rededicate ourselves to wearing masks, distancing socially, staying home, staying safe.
Instead, he descended into madness. As COVID killed Americans in unprecedented droves, Trump schemed to subvert the Constitution and pressured fellow Republicans to contradict the manifest will of the American people, brazenly plotting a coup d’état like the tinpot dictators for whom he has so long expressed admiration.
Where do you get 370,000 deaths for the Civil War? Didn’t the conflict kill 620,000 Americans?
370,000 is the number of US soldiers killed in the war; the 620,000 figure includes enemy (Confederate) dead. While those Confederates had renounced their US citizenship, one could argue that they should still count as “Americans.” One could also argue that by starting the war, Jefferson Davis should be assigned responsibility for both Confederate and Union deaths. However, for the sake of consistency, I blamed enemy heads of state for the deaths of US forces killed in the wars they started.
The US population is much larger now than it was during the Civil War. Isn’t Davis still the top killer in relative terms?
Yes. Trump has compiled the biggest body count, but in relative terms, Jefferson Davis remains the top mass killer in US history. The Civil War wiped out more than 2% of the US population, while COVID-19 has killed “only” about 0.1% (about 1 out of 1,000 Americans).
The Spanish flu pandemic killed 675,000 Americans in 1917–18. Why isn’t Woodrow Wilson on the list?
While it is currently fashionable to blame Woodrow Wilson for everything, public health was almost entirely a state and local responsibility before World War II. In the 1910s, the tiny federal Public Health Service primarily served the armed forces and screened incoming immigrants.
Wartime censorship certainly exacerbated the Spanish flu pandemic, and Wilson bears some responsibility for that. However, the US handled that pandemic about as well other World War I belligerents — as opposed to Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19, which vies for worst in the world.
Wasn’t Hirohito just an innocent figurehead? Wasn’t Tojo Imperial Japan’s real villain?
No, Hirohito retained real authority throughout the war. The US concocted the “innocent figurehead” myth after the war to justify letting a war criminal remain as Japan’s ceremonial leader — a strategic move to increase popular acceptance of the US occupation. Tojo became the scapegoat.