Friday, March 4, 2016

New Normal in U.S. Politics As Trump Rises: "Little Führers" and White Supremacists Foment Race Hatred, Evangelicals Applaud, Establishment Pretends

Steve has had the flu all week long, and he's had the misfortune to have to rely on me, who am the world's least patient nurse, as his caregiver. He's now getting better, and I find myself more than a little exhausted — so may not post much of any substance here for a day or so. Meanwhile, some tidbits from noteworthy things I've been reading as I brew herbal tea, take Steve's temperature, make soup, fluff pillows, administer medicine, and worry.

Dan Savage reponds to Paul Ryan, who recently stated, "This party [i.e., the GOP] does not prey on people's prejudices":

This party and its Southern Strategy. This party and its racist dog whistles. This party and its sacred leader's baldfaced appeals to racist voters. This party and its Willie Horton ads. This party and its support for the Confederate Battle Flag. This party and its never-ending effort to divide the country. This party and its racist fear-mongering on immigration. This party and its pet anti-Semite. This party and its attacks on single moms then and now. This party and its hateful attacks on Muslims. This party and its sexism and "legitimate rape." This party and its sustained campaign of racist attacks against President Obama. This party and its hatred of urban America. This party and the anti-gay marriage referendums that got George W. Bush reelected in 2004. This party and its dangerous and hateful attacks on trans people. This party and this guy
And that's just off the top of this pansy's head.

For forty years the GOP has managed to manipulate culture war issues and racial and ethnic animosities to hide from its base two facts: the contemporary Republican party exists to protect the economic interests of that class [i.e., the 1 percent], and those interests don’t actually align with the economic interests of middle- and working-class Americans, even if they happen to be white and culturally conservative. 
That it took a shameless foul-mouthed egomaniacal reality TV star to speak this truth in such a way that Republican voters would hear it is a sad comment on the state of our politics and culture.

"[T]he post-civil rights era Republican Party is the United States' largest white identity organization, one in which conservatism and racism are now one and the same thing. . . . 
The Republican Party and the "conservative establishment" do not disagree with Trump's racism, xenophobia, prejudice and bigotry toward Hispanic and Latino immigrants, non-whites, Muslims and women. They are just embarrassed and aghast that Donald Trump has dropped the mask of racist gentility and exposed the racist id of today's Republican Party and movement conservatism for the world to see.

Yesterday, a group of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, including those belonging to the Traditionalist Worker Party, repeatedly physically and verbally assaulted a young black woman.

Commenting on the preceding story, Sophia Tesfaye and Salon ask, "How long until we start seeing the return of burning crosses?"

And here's Abby Zimet on the same story:

Apologies to those of you understandably all Trumped out. But Holy Mother of God, this shall not pass. At a snarling, jabbing, invective-laden "rally" in Louisville, a mob of Trump supporters - following The Donald's vicious lead - jostled and heaved a black college student out of the building, calling her "nigger" and "cunt" as she passed. The brave charge was led by a white supremacist known as "The Little Führer" who argues "White Americans (must) either push back or be pushed down." This is what the GOP has wrought.

Here's that same "Little Führer," neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach, on why he's supporting Trump:

Donald Trump's flirtation with the Ku Klux Klan should come as no surprise. He has functioned for years as a rallying point for "birthers," conspiracy theorists, extremists and racists who are apoplectic about the fact that the country elected a black man president. These groups have driven the Republican Party steadily rightward, helping to create a national discourse that now permits a presidential candidate to court racist support without paying a political price. 
Every era of racial progress engenders a racist backlash. The one that is still unfolding in the wake of Barack Obama's presidency bears a striking resemblance in tone to the reaction that swept the South after Reconstruction, the period after the Civil War when former slaves were granted constitutional rights and black Americans served in interracial governments that came to power in the former Confederacy.

As Michelle Goldberg notes, white supremacist William Johnson, who is making robocalls for Trump, says his group is going great guns with Trump as a candidate. William Johnson has called for the deportation of Americans with any "ascertainable trace of Negro blood" or more than one-eighth "Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood."

[Notorious white supremacist James] Edwards said he and his co-hosts have attended three different Trump rallies in recent months: One in Illinois, one in Arkansas, and the rally in Memphis. With press credentials from Trump, the white supremacists feel "every bit as legit" as members of the traditional media, he added.

As Eric Hananoki indicates, while giving press credentials to white supremacist hate monger James Edwards, the Trump campaign has denied press credentials to several legitimate media outlets, including Huffington Post, Des Moines Register, and Fusion. He also notes that in addition to targeting African Americans ("MLK's dream is our nightmare"), Edwards targets gays ("Two fags getting married," "Homosexuality is a mental illness"), and Jews.

Here's Brandon Weber on Facebook (in December), citing retired Air Force Col. and Vietnam-war prisoner Tom Moe:

New York Times editorializes: as voters lean "in unbelievable numbers, toward a man whose quest for the presidency revolves around targeting religious and racial minorities and people with disabilities, who flirts with white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, who ridicules and slanders those who disagree with him," the Republican party is reaping the whirlwind it has sown:

Mr. Trump's foul statements and shallow ideas can and should be exposed through detailed, dispassionate analysis and smart debate, approaches that would lift his opponent as they diminish him. Republicans are reaping the whirlwind right now, and Democrats should seize the chance to show Americans an alternative to Mr. Trump's politics of rage, and an image of themselves to be proud of, not shrink from.

If Trump has one message for his fellow Americans, it is this: "Congratulate yourself on your successes in whatever way you choose to. For your failures, blame others." Greed is good. Selfishness is generous. Look out for number one – I did it, and so can you. 
It's liberating – the idea that you’d be sitting pretty if others hadn’t ruined things for you. Trump insists that those others are immigrants – Muslims, Mexicans, whatever. He resists adding African-Americans to his list. But his recent claim that he didn’t know enough about former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, to condemn him, speaks for itself. The allegations that Trump has used illegal workers himself? That simply doesn't touch him.

Fred Clark offers illuminating analysis of Amanda Taub's recent essay on the authoritarian roots of Trump's rise to power:

The problem with authoritarianism is not that "fear leads to anger," but that — for authoritarians — fear leads to misdirected anger. When such people fear being crushed from above, they respond by punching down — lashing out at others who have nothing to do with the causes of their fear. 
That does, indeed, lead to hatefulness and suffering, but those are not the product of anger, they’re the product of misdirected anger.

Adele Stan predicts that the ugliness Trump and his followers are now normalizing will not end even if he runs for the White House and is not elected:

Win or lose, Trump has unleashed a beast that has long lived in limited captivity amid the American electorate. Outward expression of contempt for those one resents—whether through epithets, violence, or mere coarseness — is no longer a pursuit reserved for those on the fringe of American politics. It's gone mainstream, thanks to Trump, each baldly stated prejudice now packaged as a legitimate political position. Liberals and progressives had best be thinking strategically about how to deal with the aftermath of a Trump candidacy. Whether he wins or loses, it's going to be ugly.

As all this happens in the U.S., the mainstream media continue to play the shameful game of false equivalency ("But both sides are equally guilty!"), while the best and brightest in the Catholic journalistic sphere natter on about why shlepping around half-decayed corpses in glass coffins is what real, old-fashioned, honest-to-God Catholicism is all about, or they prefer to pretend — to their great shame! — that the reasons white working-class Catholics are jumping aboard the Trump bandwagon (and have gone Republican increasingly since the GOP began issuing racist dog whistles) has nothing at all to do with racism.

God help us.

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