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“Left-Wing Protestors Turning Violent”: How Anti-Trump Violence Could Elect Him

My central supposition about this election is that Donald Trump will lose because most regular middle Americans just won’t vote to make that man their president. This has nothing to do with ideology. It’s just about Trump. Not everyone out there adores Hillary Clinton by a long shot, and I understand well that for a lot of people this is a choice between beef liver and lumpfish, but I just think at the end of the day most people will say, No, I just can’t—I just can’t help make that crude, boorish, vindictive, childish man the president of the United States.

I think this is what will save Clinton—and the country—in the end. But as soon as I think that, I think: But what if I’m wrong? What could make people change their views on Trump, become sympathetic to him?

In theory, a number of things. Trump could stop being crude, boorish, vindictive, and childish. (I said “in theory.”) Clinton could be indicted. The economy could tank. I think those are unlikely—and yes, I saw the jobs report, but it’s early days to start talking about a recession, and it may be a silver lining of the report that it makes the Fed wait longer to raise rates, which most economists I talk to think it should do anyway.

But here’s one thing that’s not a long shot—and is in fact happening right now—that I fear will make Trump a more sympathetic figure to the kinds of Americans I’m talking about: left-wing protestors turning violent and throwing eggs at Trump supporters and burning hats and flags.

Now no doubt, someone has already fired off an abusive tweet at me calling me names and screaming at me that I just want powerless people to STFU, as they say in Twitterland. No, I do not want powerless people to STFU. I emphatically want powerless people to have more power. And the way you get more power in this country is by protesting peacefully, and voting, and doing all those boring things.

And I emphatically don’t want a racist, misogynist, neo-fascist in the Oval Office. But violent protests at his rallies increase the likelihood of us getting exactly that.

The operative word in that previous sentence is violent. Protest, Americans like. It’s in the DNA and all that. Protest got us where we are. It got us the 40-hour work week, the civil rights revolution, the end of the Vietnam war. Occasionally in these instances, things turned violent, especially in the case of labor organizing. But usually, the violence was initiated by those who held the power—the companies, in the case of union organizing, or the state, in the case of civil rights.

In the modem-day American context, it’s not in the interest of the powerless to initiate violence. They’ll always get screwed. Always. They’ll always be blamed by the media, called “rabble-rousers” and “trouble-makers,” and the worst of the footage, like those people throwing eggs at that woman in the Trump football jersey in San Jose, will be shown over and over and over again, giving my regular middle Americans up above reason to think the violence was 50 times worse than it actually was.

And those regular middle Americans will say to each other: “Goodness, Jean, those protestors are just awful, aren’t they?”

“Why, yes they are, Bob. So rude! And dirty, too.”

“That’s not the American way!”

And it will go on from there, and that night after dinner, they’ll flip on CNN (because these are not Fox viewers—an important point) and they’ll see more footage and they’ll see interviews with Trump supporters who were standing there more or less minding their own business and suddenly got their faces punched in, and they’ll work themselves into a reactionary state and decide that maybe a vindictive boor is precisely what those people need.

I guess the thinking of violent protestors is, Trump is a fascist, and the right response to fascism is violence. In some times and some places, yes, it’s been the necessary response. But we’re not anywhere near that point. Trump doesn’t have a private army. Yes, some of his rallies were getting awfully creepy there for a while, and he did inexcusably egg his people on toward violence. But all that has tapered off. If Trump won the presidency and assumed emergency powers, then yeah, I’d understand violence then. Might even advocate for it. But we’re a long way from that.

Instead, we have reached a point where we have to start worrying about the impact of all this. You have to admit—it takes a lot to make Donald Trump look like a victim. But that’s what he’ll look like to middle America if this violence continues. And it will continue.

There is, however, one person who might have the power to end it. No, not Hillary. I mean the candidate the protestors, peaceful and violent alike, undoubtedly admire the most. If this gets much worse, even though none of this is his fault, maybe Bernie Sanders could step up here. That would be actual leadership. But they might not listen even to him. Deep down, some of these people probably want Trump, because a Trump victory would confirm their deepest-held belief about what a fascist country this really is. They’ll erase out the part about how they helped make it so.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2016

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Left Wing Protests, Violence | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Using The Government To Intimidate”: Here’s How Donald Trump’s Authoritarianism Would Actually Work

At various points in his career, Donald Trump has praised authoritarian rulers in places like Russia, China, and North Korea for having the ruthlessness to crush their political opponents. His worship of strength, contempt for reason, and appeal to base emotions has made many observers liken him to an authoritarian ruler, and even debate whether he is an actual fascist. But what would authoritarianism look like in the United States, as practiced by Trump? It would probably take the form of Trump using the powers of the federal government to intimidate his critics in the media — one of the key tools Vladimir Putin used to push Russia’s (far more fragile) democracy into outright despotism. In an interview Thursday night with quasi-official mouthpiece Sean Hannity, Trump responded to Washington Post investigations into his life by casually threatening retribution against its owner, Jeff Bezos:

It’s interesting that you say that, because every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from the Washington Post asking ridiculous questions. And I will tell you. This is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power. So that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody … it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust. Because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much. Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing.

And what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing. And he’s using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people. And I’ll tell you what: We can’t let him get away with it. So he’s got about 20, 25 — I just heard they’re taking these really bad stories — I mean, they, you know, wrong, I wouldn’t even say bad. They’re wrong. And in many cases they have no proper information. And they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together. And they’re gonna do a book. And the book is gonna be all false stuff because the stories are so wrong. And the reporters — I mean, one after another — so what they’re doing is he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop antitrust, which he thinks I believe he’s antitrust, in other words, what he’s got is a monopoly. And he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So, it’s one of those things. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. What he’s doing’s wrong. And the people are being — the whole system is rigged. You see a case like that. The whole system is rigged. Whether it’s Hillary or whether it’s Bezos.

Obviously, one can debate Amazon’s antitrust practices (a case can be made it is a monopoly) or its tax levels. But Trump is making no pretense of evaluating these questions as public policies to be settled on their merits. His diatribe weaves in and out of Bezos’s finances and the Post’s coverage, and back again repeatedly, leaving no doubt that, in Trump’s mind, the two are one and the same.

Trump is making nice with the leaders of his party now, and the Republican holdouts have been reduced to a stubborn handful. But the GOP leaders going along with Trump should be under no illusion about the likelihood that the candidate they support, if elected, would turn the United States into at least a quasi-authoritarian state. And the ease with which he has brought other Republicans to heel gives every indication that they would help him do it.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 13, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Authoritarianism, Donald Trump, Federal Government | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“You’ve Got A Friend”: Italy’s Most Racist Politician Comes To Philly To Help Donald Trump

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s most openly racist politician and leader of the far-right Northern League party, loves Donald Trump. And The Donald apparently loves him back.

Salvini, who has called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy to accept Syrian refugees a disaster, and who has been pictured with a bulldozer on the edge of Roma camps, tweeted a selection of pictures of himself at a Trump rally in Philadelphia. In one, he poses with the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in what appears to be a somewhat awkward “thumbs up” moment with the caption, “Go, Donald, Go!”

Salvini, who is in the United States to promote Italian culture (as opposed to any other culture), then met with Trump for around 20 minutes after the rally, which was held on April 25—the day Italy celebrates its liberation from fascism and a holiday Salvini does not celebrate. “Matteo, I hope you will soon become the prime minister of Italy,” Trump said, according to ANSA news service. Salvini then returned the sentiment, saying he hoped the Republican hopeful would be elected to the White House on Nov. 8.

The Italian politician is widely known in Italy and throughout Europe for his radical right-wing rallies, during which it is common for him to slip on a black shirt to pay homage to the Fascist era. His rallies have often included people waving photos of Benito Mussolini, who he has praised for his “efficiency” and “dedication” to the country.

It must be noted that Salvini and Trump also share a common anti-immigration attitude, and after the meeting said they were in “total agreement” on closed borders. Salvini, who also idolizes Vladimir Putin and has often railed against Europe as a whole, has previously argued that migrant and refugee boats should not be allowed to disembark in Italy, and called upon local governments to refuse to open refugee centers.

He counts among his friends some of the most xenophobic politicians in Europe. He has repeatedly invited French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen to speak at Northern League rallies and she has had him speak at at least one National Front rally in which she said, “He sends me into ecstasy” when she introduced him.

The openly racist politician is also critical of Pope Francis for accepting refugees. “With all due respect, the pope is wrong,” Salvini wrote on his Facebook page last week. “The pope wants to invite thousands of immigrants in Italy? It is one thing is to accommodate the few who escaped from the war, it is another to encourage and fund an unprecedented invasion. Dear Holy Father, the catastrophe is around the corner from the Vatican, is in Italy.”

He has also criticized Italian President Sergio Mattarella as a “sellout” and “accomplice” to illegal immigration.

It seems unlikely that Salvini’s extremist policies will ever win him the top seat in Italian government, but many have said that about his new best friend Donald Trump, too.

 

By: Barbie Latza Nadeau, Rome Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini, Racism | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Lot Of People Like Me”: Donald Trump And The Ku Klux Klan: A History

For months, as Donald Trump developed his political repertoire, he adopted an uncharacteristic reply for questions about fascism and the Ku Klux Klan: silence, or something close to it.

He used the technique as early as last August, when his opponents, and the press, still generally regarded him as a summer amusement. On August 26th, Bloomberg Television anchor John Heilemann brought up David Duke, the former Klan Grand Wizard, who had said that Trump was “the best of the lot” in the 2016 campaign. Trump replied that he had no idea who Duke was. Heilemann asked if Trump would repudiate Duke’s endorsement. “Sure,” Trump said, “if that would make you feel better, I would certainly repudiate. I don’t know anything about him.” Changing tack, Heilemann pressed Trump about an article in this magazine, which described Trump’s broad support among neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other members of the far right who were drawn in by his comments about Mexicans. Trump maintained a posture of indifference. “Honestly, John, I’d have to read the story. A lot of people like me.” The interview moved on to other topics.

It should be noted that Trump’s unfamiliarity with Duke is a recent condition. In 2000, Trump issued a statement that he was no longer considering a run for President with the backing of the Reform Party, partly because it “now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke.”

Throughout last fall and into the winter, Trump continued to accumulate support among white nationalists. In November, on a weekend in which he said that a black protester, at a rally in Alabama, deserved to be “roughed up,” Trump retweeted a graphic composed of false racist statistics on crime; the graphic, it was discovered, originated from a neo-Nazi account that used as its profile image a variation on the swastika. In January, he retweeted the account “@WhiteGenocideTM,” which identified its location as “Jewmerica.” Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, a pro-Trump robocall featured several white supremacists, including the author Jared Taylor, who told voters, “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people.” Each time Trump was asked on Twitter about his white nationalist supporters, the candidate, who is ready to respond, day or night, to critics of his debating style or his golf courses, simply ignored the question.

Only under special circumstances did Trump summon a forceful response on matters of the Klan: in January, BoingBoing unearthed a newspaper report from 1927 on the arraignment of a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father; the story was about attendees of a Klan rally who fought with police, though it wasn’t clear from the story why the Trump in the piece was arrested. Asked about it, Donald Trump denied that his father had had any connection to a Klan rally. “It’s a completely false, ridiculous story. He was never there! It never happened. Never took place.”

But recently, as Trump’s campaign has received much belated closer scrutiny, his reliable approach to the Klan problem has faltered. On Thursday, Duke offered his strongest support for the candidate yet, telling radio listeners that a vote for one of Trump’s rivals would be “treason to your heritage.” The next day, when Trump had hoped to focus on his endorsement by Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, a reporter shouted a question about Duke’s embrace, and Trump said, “David Duke endorsed me? O.K., all right, I disavow. O.K.?” For the moment, it worked, and the press conference moved on. Christie, in fact, bore the brunt of the Duke association: he appeared on the front page of the Daily News on Saturday, as the “MAN WITH A KLAN,” with his picture beside a group of hooded Klansmen. In a different spirit, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site that long ago endorsed Trump, awarded Christie the title “Heroic Deputy.” (Christie’s overnight evolution from trashing Trump to obeying him repulsed even the political class, a group that is usually more forgiving of self-rationalization. The technology executive Meg Whitman, who had been one of Christie’s top backers, called his alliance with Trump “an astonishing display of political opportunism,” and asked Christie’s donors and supporters “to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright.”)

Over the weekend, Trump’s purported indifference to support from white supremacists and fascists became an inescapable problem. He had retweeted a Mussolini quote from @ilduce2016 (which, it turned out, was an account created by Gawker to trap Trump)—“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”—and, when asked, on NBC, if he wanted to associate himself with Mussolini, he said that he wanted “to be associated with interesting quotes.” He added, “Mussolini was Mussolini. . . . What difference does it make?” On CNN, Jake Tapper pressed him about David Duke, and Trump, seeming to forget that he had given a one-line disavowal, reverted to a position of theatrical incomprehension: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, O.K.?” Tapper asked three times if Trump would denounce the Klan’s support, and each time Trump declined. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know—did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

By Monday, less than twenty-four hours before primary voting on Super Tuesday, his non-answers about the Klan were creating a crisis, and Trump introduced a new explanation: audio trouble. “I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece that they gave me, and you could hardly hear what he was saying,” he said on the “Today” show. “But what I heard was various groups, and I don’t mind disavowing anybody, and I disavowed David Duke and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference, which is surprising because he was at the major news conference, CNN was at the major news conference, and they heard me very easily disavow David Duke.”

There may be no better measure of the depravity of this campaign season than the realization that it’s not clear whether Trump’s overt appreciation for fascism, and his sustained salute to American racists, will have a positive or negative effect on his campaign. For now, his opponents are rejoicing. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, pronounced him “unelectable.” Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, called Trump’s comments “just horrific.” But it is by now a truism to note that Trump has survived pratfalls that other politicians have not. A surprisingly large portion of Americans believed him when he pushed a racist campaign denying the birthplace of Barack Obama; a comparably chilling portion of Americans were attracted when he called Mexicans rapists. By the end of the day on Sunday, he had received the endorsement of Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the first sitting senator to officially line up with Trump. Sessions was not likely to be bothered by Trump’s flirtations with the Klan. In 1986, he was rejected from a federal judgeship after saying that he thought the Klan was “O.K. until I learned they smoked pot.”

In the weeks to come, Trump is virtually guaranteed to accumulate additional endorsements from politicians like Christie and Sessions, who have divined their interests in drafting behind the strongest candidate for the Republican nomination. Whether driven by fear of irrelevance, or attracted by the special benefits of being an early adopter, Christie seemed compelled to do it, and now the remnant of his political reputation is going from a solid to a gas. But the true obscenity of his decision, and those of other Trumpists, may take years to be fully appreciated. In an editorial last week, the Washington Post declared that “history will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer.” That’s true, but history will judge even more harshly those who stand with Trump now that it is indefensibly clear with whom they are standing.

 

By: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, February 29, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hot 2015 Words? A Political ‘ism’ Vision”: At Least Some People Care About The Words Our Political Leaders Use

What’s the word? The “Word of the Year” at Oxford Dictionaries is not even a word. It is an emoji, a digital image that is used in text messages to express an idea or emotion in a style that seems in my eyes to be aimed at illiterates.

Oxford Dictionaries justified this selection by citing an explosion in “emoji culture” over the last year and not, as I fear, a collapse in the public’s desire to read.

“It’s flexible, immediate and infuses tone beautifully,” said Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries in a statement. “As a result emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders.”

Indeed, I’m sure that’s true, provided that you can figure out what the darn emoji means. The emoji that Oxford Dictionaries happened to choose is hardly a model of simplicity or clarity.

Titled “face with tears of joy,” it depicts a gleefully cheerful smiley face with enormous water drops exploding out of its eyes. Cute, but it’s nowhere near the “rich form of communication” displayed by what has become known as the “poop emoji” in polite company. It depicts a steaming brown coil of the stuff with enough clarity to require no further translation.

But as an indicator of the social, political and economic world in which I usually work, a world that feels a lot less predictable than it did a year ago, I prefer the choices made by two other major dictionary companies.

First prize in my view goes to “identity,” the choice of Dictionary.com, a timely topic for the year that gave us Rachel Dolezal and Caitlin Jenner, among other challenges to our society’s conventional sense of selfhood and otherness.

Dolezal will be remembered as the Spokane, Washington, NAACP leader who passed for black, a complete reversal of the usual American tradition. This upset white conservatives who didn’t like the NAACP anyway. It also upset black traditionalists who felt Dolezal hadn’t paid enough dues to pose as an authentic African-American.

This conundrum proved to be remarkably similar to the dustup kicked up by Caitlin Jenner’s decision to emerge from the body of Olympic medalist Bruce Jenner. A few prominent radical feminists resented what they saw as Jenner’s EZ-pass around decades of struggle against institutional sexism.

Episodes like that, Dictionary.com CEO Liz McMillan said in a news release, sent enough people running to online dictionaries and other media to make identity “the clear frontrunner.”

“Our data indicated a growing interest in words related to identity,” McMillan said in the release, “as people encountered new terms throughout the year based on events tied to gender, sexuality, race, and other key issues.”

In a similar vein, Merriam-Webster.com named a suffix to be their Word of the Year: “-ism.” The website’s word watchers began to notice a surge in lookups that ended in those three letters. Of the thousands of queries seven with noticeably political themes rose to the top: socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism.

This was a year in which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate and self-described democratic socialist, opened up a national dialogue of how socialism really works as something more than the epithet that conservatives like to fling at President Barack Obama. As Sanders’ crowds surged in mid-summer, so did lookups for “socialism” online.

Similarly billionaire showman Donald Trump’s calls for mass deportation of immigrants and praise for Vladimir Putin, among other comments, sent many rushing to their keyboards to look up “fascism.”

And racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism — among other popular “isms” — have been so bent out of shape by partisan and ideological accusations and counter-accusations that you need a dictionary just to keep score.

It is too early to say how much of an impact all of this chatter about identity and “-isms” will have on the 2016 presidential campaigns. We have elections to decide questions like that.

But as money, ideology and celebrity increasingly replace political parties as the pilots of national election campaigns, I am encouraged to hear that at least some people care about the words our political leaders use. I wish more of our political leaders did.

 

By: Clarence Page, The National Memo, December 29, 2015

December 31, 2015 Posted by | 2015, Dictionaries, Words of The Year | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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