Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"A Hard Core of Those Enthralled by Trump Cannot Be Convinced Otherwise": America's "Triumph of the Will" Moment

John Feffer, "The Trump Dystopian Nightmare: Nuclear War, Climate Change and a Clash of Civilizations Are All on the Horizon":

Here was this extraordinarily popular film [Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will], and it's now nearly impossible for Americans to sit through the whole thing. He wanted us to understand that people in Nazi Germany had an entirely different mindset, that they were participating in a kind of mass frenzy. They didn't find Nazism abhorrent. They didn't think they were living in a dystopia. They were true believers. 
Many Americans are now having their Triumph of the Will moment. They watch Donald Trump repeatedly without getting bored or disgusted. They believe that history has anointed a new leader to revive the country and restore it to its rightful place in the world. They've been convinced that the last eight years were a liberal dystopia and what is happening now is, if not utopian, then the first steps in that direction. 
A hard core of those enthralled by Trump cannot be convinced otherwise. They hold liberal elites in contempt. They don't believe CNN or The New York Times. Many subscribe to outlandish theories about Islam and immigrants and the continuing covert machinations of that most famous "Islamic immigrant" of them all, Barack Obama. For this hard core of Trump supporters, the United States could begin to break down, the economy take a nosedive, the international community hold the leadership in Washington in contempt, and they will continue to believe in Trump and Trumpism. The president could even gun down a few people and his most fervent supporters would say nothing except, 'Good shot, Mr. President!' Remember: even after Nazi Germany went down in fiery defeat in 1945, significant numbers of Germans remained in thrall to National Socialism. In 1947, more than half of those surveyed still believed that Nazism was a good idea carried out badly.

The whole point of Joachim Fest's memoir about growing up in Germany as the Nazis came to power is to ask how a Christian nation with powerful cultural traditions could succumb to the mass psychosis that was belief in Hitler. As with Hitler's supporters, Trump's are true believers. Logic, rationality, facts: none of this touches them or touches the visceral forces that move them. 

As with Hitler and the German churches, the churches in the U.S. bear a tremendous load of guilt for helping to lead the nation to this point. When they could and should for years have been denouncing the economic exploitation of the many by the few, racism, fear of immigrants, hatred of LGBTQ human beings, refusal to accord rights to women, they have actively helped pump the toxins of hate into the American bloodstream.

And the results could not be more dismal.

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