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“Why The Media Is Duty-Bound To Call Donald Trump A Racist”: That Ugly Fantasy Might Just Become Our Ugly Reality

It was easy to label the Missouri murder of Craig Anderson “racist,” as BuzzFeed did in its excellent accounting of the modern-day lynching. In 2011, a group of white teenagers allegedly shouted racial epithets while beating Anderson and celebrating running him over with a truck. No one would accuse BuzzFeed of bias for calling that horrific crime racist; it’s a simple statement of fact, not a judgment call. Indeed, it’s easy to call a group of violent, ignorant teenagers committing an alleged hate crime racist.

But for some reason, when covering the people vying for the most powerful office in the land, the media is hesitant to apply the “R” word, no matter how apt it may be. And that hesitation could have extraordinarily serious consequences for the country.

Donald Trump, who maintains a comfortable lead in national polls, launched his campaign by arguing that Mexico sends rapists over our border illegally. His subsequent rise in the polls came not in spite of this anti-immigrant rhetoric, but because of it.

There has long been a racist undercurrent in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. And the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris by ISIS-affiliated terrorists have exposed it to sunlight.

When the Paris attacks were initially — and falsely, it appears — blamed on terrorists who had snuck into Europe with Syrian refugees, each of the Republican presidential candidates strived to be the most fiercely opposed to allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush suggested we allow just the Christians in, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz followed up with a bill that would write that policy into law. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he wouldn’t allow 5-year-old Syrian orphans into the country.

But just denying the refugees fleeing terrorism and repression wasn’t enough. The anti-terrorism furor has grown into an anti-Muslim furor. Trump has called for shutting down mosques and refused to rule out a national registry for Muslims. Marco Rubio is trying to out-Trump Trump by calling not just for shutting down mosques, but even cafes or websites where Muslims gather.

Now, to be clear, these ideas would not only fail to combat terrorism — they would probably increase extremist violence. Repressing loyal Muslim-Americans would drive more radicalization and help ISIS and other terrorist organizations with their recruiting drives. Tell 5-year-old orphans they’re too dangerous to seek refuge in America, and you’ll create the next generation of terrorists.

But these proposals aren’t just obviously wrong-headed; they’re racist. And the media — even nominally objective reporters from mainstream outlets — shouldn’t be shy about saying so.

Nazi analogies are usually the worst. People who resort to comparisons to Hitler or concentration camps or the Holocaust are trivializing the 20th century’s greatest horror. They’re invariably overreacting.

But look at where we are today. Leading candidates for presidents are flirting with requiring adherents of a single religion to be registered. To carry identification cards. To be subject to additional surveillance. To be refused entry to the nation even if they’re escaping horrific repression. To have their houses of worship closed down.

Those are racist, fascist policies. To avoid the comparison with early Nazi repression against Jews is to avoid telling the full story. And that’s just what the media is doing by refusing to call these proposals racist.

Calling a candidate for president racist sure sounds biased, doesn’t it? After all, except for a small fringe of extremists, virtually all Americans believe racism is a Very Bad Thing. Tarring a candidate with that label doesn’t sound like objective reporting; it looks like taking sides.

But it isn’t a judgment call to identify the naked racism of Donald Trump for what it is. Several GOP candidates — even the “mainstream” candidates like Christie, Bush, and Rubio — are suggesting ideas that harken back to some of the ugliest stains on American history, like the unjustified internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

It’s not just the racism directed at Muslims. On Sunday, Trump retweeted a graphic filled with made-up statistics about how blacks commit a majority of murders against whites in the United States. It was quickly debunked; the majority of murders of both whites and blacks are committed by people of the same race.

The fake statistics from a fake organization was accompanied by a racist graphic of a black man, face covered in bandanas, holding a gun sideways. The Hill called this “controversial.” BuzzFeed said it was “questionable.”

It was actually racist.

Trump spread a false statistic about black-on-white crime to drive up an unfounded fear of black criminals. He was trying to make white people afraid so they’ll vote for him.

This is racist.

Donald Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He has expressed outright racism against Latinos, Muslims, and African-Americans. His words have already had real-world consequences. Trump supporters kicked and beat a Black Lives Matter protester at a rally Saturday. The next day Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.” Two men cited Trump when they beat a homeless Latino Boston man in August. Trump said his supporters were “passionate.”

The America Trump promises to build is ugly: walled off, repressive, and racist. If the media fails to call racism what it is, if they fail to tell the full story, then that ugly fantasy might just become our ugly reality.

 

By: Jesse Berney, The Week, November 25, 2015

November 28, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Presidential Candidates, Mainstream Media, Racism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Who In GOP Will Finally Stop Trump?”: Do Any Of The Party’s Leaders Have The Stones To Do It?

I’m still not sure it’s 100 percent clear that Donald Trump really understands that he’s a neo-fascist. He may not know enough history to be fully aware of the now-undeniable odor of his rhetoric and campaign. He may think a member of a racial minority being beat up and called a “n***r” by his racial-majority supporters at a rally, and his own joking about it, is just a little incident; something for which there’s no larger historical context. I know he allegedly had the book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed, but I still think he’s doing most of this on instinct rather than with intellectual intention because I doubt he knows enough about fascism for it to be the latter.

But stop and think about this: I just wrote a paragraph musing on whether the leading candidate for president of the United States from one of our two major parties is knowingly fascist. We’re at the point where we’re debating whether the Republican Party frontrunner is or is not objectively a fascist.

His admirers would surely take issue with the term, but I should note that it’s not just liberals using it. A Jeb Bush adviser posted a tweet using the word. Erstwhile presidential candidate Jim Gilmore referred to Trump’s “fascist talk.”

Gilmore’s willingness to say what’s what is admirable, but let’s face it: He’s running 17th in a field of 17. And an aide is an aide, at the end of the day—and to boot, he’s an aide working for a flailing campaign. Who’s really going to listen to them?

And that brings us to the question: Who in the Republican Party is going to step up here? Because this is A Moment for the GOP, make no mistake. It’s a historical moment, and when your leading candidate is joking about his supporters beating people up at rallies and musing about religious ID cards for around (ahem) 6 million of your citizens, it’s time to say something.

Reince Priebus, after the last election, called on his party to be more inclusive. Is this what you had in mind, Reince? How about the other leading candidates? Is this where you want your party to be taken? Karl Rove and others in the professional political class—will they say anything, if not out of moral principle then at least to try to protect their party’s candidates from down-ticket disaster?

And most of all, what about the party’s graybeards and elder statesmen? Looking at you, John McCain. How about a little “Straight Talk” now, about a man who proposes to come into your state, where there are an estimated 300,000 or so unauthorized immigrants, and break up families because one of them’s illegal and the other is not?

I would suspect that this week we’ll start to see a little of this. Marco Rubio might make a statement that’s very carefully worded, as most of his statements are. Lindsey Graham may have it in him to say something interesting and semi-honest. But for the most part, I’d suspect that what we’re going to hear will be the rhetorical equivalent of wallpaper—they’re going to try to cover up the ugly exposed surface and nothing more.

And why would they do more? If they admit that Trump is a fascist, they’re calling one-third of their voters fascist. Will they do that? And this predicament raises the interesting question of how one-third of their voters came to admire a neo-fascist and open racist in the first place. Gee, it can’t have anything to do with the kind of rhetoric and “harmless jokes” about the current president and about the 47 percent that Republican leaders have winked at for seven years, can it?

There’s precedent for the courageous path, should anyone choose to take it. On Feb. 9, 1950, Joe McCarthy gave his famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, charging that communists were working in the State Department. The months that followed were very much like these last five months of the Trump ascendancy, as the official party stood mute in the face of the hysteria created by one of its number.

Then in June, one Republican senator said “enough.” Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was a freshman senator, having taken her husband’s seat. She took to the Senate floor and gave a 15-minute speech (PDF), which has gone down in history as her “Declaration of Conscience,” that all of us, starting with leading Republicans, ought to be reading this week. Two choice excerpts:

“As a Republican, I say to my colleagues on this side of the aisle that the Republican Party faces a challenge today that is not unlike the challenge which it faced back in Lincoln’s day. The Republican Party so successfully met that challenge that it emerged from the Civil War as the champion of a united nation—in addition to being a party which unrelentingly fought loose spending and loose programs.”

“The Democratic administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people… Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to the nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.”

Six of her Republican colleagues signed with her a statement of principles that began: “We are Republicans. But we are Americans first.” So that’s what people can do in the face of extremism, if they want to.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much history Trump knows. All that matters are his words and the ugly actions his words encourage. I don’t expect him to know history. But we have a right to expect certain others to. It’s time for the GOP to choose.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, November 24, 2015

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP, GOP Voters | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Is Donald Trump Leading A Proto-Fascist Movement?”: Trump’s Political Message Is Uncut Xenophobia If Not Outright Racism

With the increasingly unsettling success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, I am beginning to wonder: Does America have a fascism problem?

That may sound like an inflammatory question, but the point isn’t to say Trump is the next coming of Hitler. So what do I mean by fascism? Robert Paxton, in an excellent book about the subject, summed it up this way:

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. [The Anatomy of Fascism]

The first half of the definition fits the Trump movement pretty well. His slogan “Make America Great Again” isn’t too far from the average political bromide, but its intention is much different than, say, Reagan’s “Morning in America.” Reagan did deal in his fair share of veiled race-baiting, but Trump straight-up rants about how non-white foreigners are ruining the country. From claiming unauthorized Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and “rapists,” to saying he wants to deport 11 million people, to arguing that China is “killing us” on trade, Trump’s political message is uncut xenophobia if not outright racism — all of which is coupled with how he, as a very masculine tough guy who will never back down, is going to fix everything. Just watch him give the bum’s rush to the most famous Hispanic journalist in the country!

This has been an enormous political success, with hundreds of thousands of people enthusiastically flocking to the Trump banner (just look at the people in this picture). With the exception of Bernie Sanders, Trump is now drawing bigger crowds than any other candidate. That mass basis is a key foundation of fascism — without the delirious crowds, the fascist demagogue is little more than a deranged street preacher. Many of those supporters are out-and-proud white nationalists, as documented in a fascinating New Yorker investigation.

So we’ve got the victim complex, the incipient personality cult, the mass nationalist support, and the obsession with purifying the polity (like this Trump fan arguing that the government should pay a $50 bounty to murder people crossing the border).

However, on the second half of the definition, Trump is clearly not there. Paxton demonstrates that nowhere did fascists come to power by themselves; instead they relied on support from elite conservatives who feared left-wing populist movements. But today, there is not much sign that the Republican establishment is ready to team up with Trump, and neither is there a socialist party on the verge of electoral victory. On the contrary, the GOP brass has clearly been trying to get rid of Trump, and the most left-wing challenger in the presidential race is a moderate social democrat who is far behind the centrist front-runner.

Trump has also not proposed any wars of aggression, or the abolition of democratic principles. Cleansing wars of conquest and a scorn for democracy were both signature fascist ideas.

But I also think it’s fair to call Trumpism a proto-fascist movement, not in line with Hitler, but with the likes of Benito Mussolini, who was at the forefront of European fascism. Before the Nazis, he was regarded as a somewhat clownish dictator with an unusual degree of mass support. He was a racist, authoritarian warmonger, but nowhere close to the genocidal maniac that Hitler was.

Who’s to say where we’d be under different conditions? If the American economy were as bad as it is in the eurozone, and if Bernie Sanders was cruising to easy victory in the Democratic primary, loudly promising confiscatory tax rates, Trump might well be a genuinely terrifying figure.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, August 28, 2015

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, Racism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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