Sunday, October 28, 2018

Arson and Anti-Semitism: The Uncertainty Engine Can Be Consistent

I was going to write about the liberal international order debate, but I got distracted after writing this tweet:

by the news of the day--yet more violence, more domestic terrorism by white guys against those who were different.  Earlier in the week it was African-Americans, then it was Democrats mostly, and now Jews.  So, I started thinking about what unifies this moment, this government.  I have long argued that Trump is an uncertainty engine--but that is on stuff that is not central to his core or to his core supporters.

The key consistencies are arson, ignorance, and hate.
  • Arson: the effort to burn down pretty much everything.  Trump has appointed a team of arsonists to his cabinet, and their role is to destroy the agencies that they "lead."  Deregulate, delegitimate, corrupt by directing the agencies towards the benefit of the inner circle.  Aside from Mattis, who is still a general protecting his Marines with some thought to the rest of the military and thus looks like a hero compared to the rest of the cabinet, the Secretaries and Attorney General are arsonists.  Trump is the chief arsonist, setting fire to the norms of the political system--no tax returns, no speaking on behalf of All Americans, joking on days where Americans are killed in terrorist attacks.  Of course, he never had any sense of appropriateness (he would lech after his own young daughter on television), but he delights in destroying the standards we took for granted.
  • Ignorance: Trump knows very little, and what he remembers from the 1980s is mostly wrong and/or out of date. On any given policy, he will simply not have much of a clue.  Every number he utters is wrong.  And he is singularly the most incurious person I have ever heard of.  His staff say it is ok that Trump talks on a tapped cell phone because he does not really care to know the details, that he can't leak intel because he ain't got none. 
  • Hate:  Trump reminds me of a character in a 1980s show--Wiseguy--where the Feds were trying to penetrate a white supremacist movement led by an insincere politician who whipped up hate but was only doing it to market himself--played by Fred Thompson who later went onto the Senate.  Before getting into what Trump believes and is, let's focus on what he has consistently done--whip up hate.  Trump was an original and most dedicated birther, questioning the history of the first African-American president.  His speech to open the campaign referred to Mexicans as rapists.  The whole wall thing was an appeal to xenophobia--that we need barriers between us and the others.  His Muslim ban, despite a fucked up court ruling, uses the state's power to discriminate on the basis of religion. He used anti-semitic imagery during the campaign.  Trump mocked those with disabilities--how soon we forget.  Trump definitely spends much time separating people into us and them in his mind and then has much dislike for the latter.  People say he can't be anti-semitic because he has Jewish grandchildren.  That is so dumb, it is laughable--is Trump capable of real love?  I do not think so.  I am pretty sure he would cast off Jared at the drop of a hat. 
    None of this is new, as his racism and his use of anti-semitic stereotypes goes way, way back.  
For a man who is wildly inconsistent, he is consistent about some things--that he does not know, he does not care about much, that he likes destroying things, and that he has much contempt for those who are different.  Sure, it is a convenient political strategy to play to his base--that it was useful in outbidding the GOP during the campaign--but he revels in it again and again.  His instincts go back to it again and again.

And because I am ranting, let me diverge and mention that this is not a solo act.  Trump has been enabled and empowered by white supremacists within the right-wing sphere--not just Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh, but Fox, which has aired anti-semitic, racist, xenophobic conspiracy theories and propaganda.  So, people ask where have these violent white men been radicalized, and the answer is: in the Fox/Breitbart/talk radio media space.

We live in dark times indeed, where the President of the United States is a white supremacist, surrounded by arsonists, enabled by cowards in the GOP and empowered by radical (not conservative) television and other media outlets.  I am not sure that voting will do the trick, but it is the least that we can do.  I have voted.  Please go out and vote against this awful tide of arson, ignorance, and hate.

Speaking of Fred Thompson:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Probably that is all just fake news and slander. But it is astonishing that it was never widely discussed but just shrugged off.

I fully understand the Anglo-American rejection of banning books. However, one reason why virtually nobody in Germany is concerned about the banning of "Main Kampf" and other Nazi paraphilia is that everybody guesses that someone reading it in a non-professional function has at least some a weird fascination of it if not a more severe attachment to it.