Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Donald Trump: the Face of Fascism

It was hard to escape what Trump's post-Orlando speech implies: Muslim-Americans wearing yellow arm bands and viewed by "Americans" with suspicion.

The face of American fascism.

Slate's Isaac Chotiner lays it out:
Every time a mass shooting occurs in the United States, commentators note how scary it is that we’ve almost become numb to them. But the past year has proven that we also risk becoming numb to another grave threat to America and the world: Donald Trump. His behavior in the past 36 hours has been so horrifically grotesque in so many different ways that it is easy to become emotionally immune to his hideous and bigoted comments, and the soullessness of his response to tragedy.
But we shouldn’t become immune: Trump’s response to the Orlando attack is a frightening window into how he might govern if elected. And his speech on Monday afternoon was the most terrifying of the campaign.
The fact that it was more of the same—demagoguery, fearmongering, outright lies—shouldn’t blind us to its disgusting content. Seemingly of the belief that simply saying “radical Islam” will win the war on terror (in this, at least, he doesn’t depart from the party he now leads), Trump mouthed the phrase many times Monday afternoon. But he also mouthed many other phrases, each one more disturbing than the next. He accused the president of consciously keeping law enforcement from doing its job; he scolded Hillary Clinton for saying Muslims were peaceful; he claimed he was right to call for a Muslim ban; he talked of huddling with the NRA to help prevent attacks. He talked of “these people”; he implied that almost all Afghans were extremists; he lied about the place of birth of the alleged shooter, who was American-born. “Can you imagine what they will do in large groups?” Trump asked, saying Obama had tried to bring “large groups” of Muslims from abroad. He claimed that immigrants would constitute a Trojan horse, implying that Muslims coming here were part of some secret plan.
If America goes this way, we're doomed. Even Republicans are at a loss to explain Donald Trump, with many in his party troubled by Trump's first big "test." The Washington Post, which was banned from Trump events because they have adopted the habit of reporting how often Trump lies, published a fact check of his Orlando speech and found it staggeringly untruthful. (They found a few slightly wobbly statements by Clinton, for so-called "balance.")

Trump has now banned a good number of reporters and media outlets from covering his campaign. What would a President Trump do under the usual scrutiny of American presidents, ban reporters from the White House press corps?

Regardless of how you feel about Hillary Clinton, the only good news in the past couple of days is that her response to Orlando was measured, presidential, and non-hysterical, and her poll numbers against Trump are rising (among white males!), even as Bernie Sanders has yet to encourage his supporters to move over to supporting her. Donald Trump has given him every reason to do so, and he's scheduled to have a live stream to supporters on Thursday, two days after the last (DC) primary takes place.

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for a new American fascism. Not voting at all is still a vote for a new American fascism. Even Republicans, who are facing an election debacle because of Trump, are hoping to distance themselves from his rhetoric. This is a twin fiasco: Half the GOP recoils from Trump's message, while the other half welcomes it. Today's Republican Party is truly a house divided.

Who's fault is that? A good question.

Note. I almost missed including the paragraph in Chotiner's piece that most clearly illustrated the calamity that is Trump's reaction to a mass shooting of gays -- one that may have had more to do with self-loathing than radical Islamic terrorism per se -- which were mostly Latino and black, by the way:
The lowest moment of the lowest speech in this very low campaign came near the end, when Trump, noting that Muslims must talk to authorities about their neighbors, said, “The Muslim community, so importantly, they have to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. And they know it. And they have to do it forthwith.” It was all there: the “us” that doesn’t include Muslim-Americans, the not-so-vague menace behind the warning, the claim about what “they” know.
[Boldface mine.]

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