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“What Are Trump Fans Really ‘Afraid’ To Say?”: Trump Supporters Are Leading Him As Much As Following Him

Rhinestones twinkling around the perimeter of her shades, cornsilk curls undaunted by the Pensacola sun, Elizabeth Kemper, a supporter of Donald J. Trump, is all certainty. She is fed up. “You know, this country is so dang political correct,” she tells a CNN reporter. “I’m afraid to say what I really feel, you know?”

On her shirt, a silhouette of Mr. Trump’s head nestles in the protective crook of the state of Florida, his face turned stalwartly eastward, away from Mexico, his Mordor.

Ms. Kemper is blazing, passionate, incredulous. “I think this country better go back to some of those values. Some of the values my parents grew up with, my grandparents grew up with,” she says. “Whatever was wrong, they could point it out and tell you.”

The notion that Mr. Trump voices ideas that his supporters are “afraid” to express, vital truths lost to the scourge of political correctness, has been a rhetorical through-line of his campaign. Mr. Trump says exactly what he thinks, his fans gush — about immigrants, about Muslims, about women — a bygone pleasure now denied most Americans.

It’s an odd construction. Once you say, “He says what I’m afraid to say,” and point to a man who is essentially a 24/7 fire hose of unequivocal bigotry, you’ve said what you’re afraid to say, so how afraid could you have been in the first place? The phrase is a dodge, a way to acknowledge that you’re aware it’s a little naughty to be a misogynist xenophobe in 2016, while letting like-minded people know, with a conspiratorial wink, that you’re only pretending to care. It’s a wild grab for plausible deniability — how can I be a white supremacist when I’m just your nice grandpa? — an artifact of a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist.

Trump fans are flattering themselves if they think that, say, declining to shout slurs at black people or sexually harass female co-workers is some form of noble restraint. Not only is that a pathetically low bar, many do not seem to be clearing it. Video of a Trump rally in Kentucky on Super Tuesday shows a student named Shiya Nwanguma being shoved and jostled. She reported being called a racial epithet as well as an abusive term for the female anatomy. Video from a North Carolina rally on Wednesday shows a white Trump supporter punching a black protester in the face. One glance at your worst relative’s Facebook page, one toe dipped into the toxic sludge-fire that is pro-Trump Twitter, and it’s abundantly obvious that no one is holding much back.

It’s tempting to declare that the Internet isn’t real life, that online hate isn’t a credible barometer for offline behavior. But human beings built the Internet, we populate it, we set its tone, and collectively we’ve designated it a major engine of discourse. It’s been my experience that anonymity makes people more honest, more themselves. If you applaud the sentiment that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” and “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists,” from the mouth of a presidential candidate, why should I believe you aren’t saying worse in the privacy of your home?

Mr. Trump isn’t saying anything that his supporters wouldn’t. He hasn’t let an explicit racial slur slip on the campaign trail. It’s the other way around. They’re laying bare the subtext of his speech and policies, revealing how they appear to angry white people primed and frustrated by the past century of Republican dog-whistling. They’re saying what Mr. Trump can’t.

Regardless, even if Trump supporters were managing to toe some politically correct line with their words, they speak as clear as day with their votes.

A voter whose preferred immigration policy involves “a wall” and “a list” makes it clear where he stands on the humanity of refugees. A voter who thinks it’s perfectly reasonable not to immediately disavow the support of a white nationalist makes it clear where she stands on the Black Lives Matter movement. A voter who feels well represented by a candidate who has called women “fat pigs” and “dogs” makes it clear he is not to be trusted when it comes to women’s health.

It doesn’t take clairvoyance, or even tremendous mental dexterity, to see what Mr. Trump means by “make America great again.” It just takes a history book. Many of us remember what America used to be like, and don’t care to go back.

Some of Mr. Trump’s loudest critics come from the groups he’s built his campaign on demonizing — black people, Latinos, Muslims, women — historically marginalized groups whose voices are reaching wider audiences thanks to the democratizing power of the Internet. Political correctness is construed, deliberately and effectively, by its opponents as an attack on fun, but it’s really an attack on the status quo that made Mr. Trump both very wealthy and a viable presidential candidate.

We cannot ignore the fact that the populist sensation of this election hasn’t been Bernie Sanders. It’s been a racist, nationalist demagogue-for-hire with no sincere ideology beyond his own vanity. Mr. Trump is a cipher; his voters love him because he does nothing but hold up a mirror to their basest prejudices and bask in the feedback loop of narcissism. They’re not “afraid”; they’re leading Mr. Trump as much as following him. They called him into being, not the other way around.

 

By: Lindy West, Columnist with The Guardian; Opinion Pages, The New York Times, March 11, 2016

March 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Political Correctness, Trumpeteers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In The Murky Depths Of The Internet”: Trolls And Nazis Mourn Trump Loss

To Donald Trump’s seedy Internet fan club, he’s some sort of god. So when the final numbers were tallied in the Iowa caucus on Monday night, no one was more upset than the online trolls.

Trump’s Internet forum star-status is fueled by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis as well as the kind of snarky nihilists that lurk on 4chan. Stormfront, a website dedicated to providing a “voice to the new embattled White minority,” has touted Trump as a beacon of hope in months past, politically aligning itself with other white nationalists who recorded robocalls for Trump in Iowa.

Between posts discussing the best images from the Third Reich and theories about Hillary Clinton’s bowel issues, Stormfront had difficulty emotionally comprehending Trump’s loss, especially given the robocalls recorded in the state by the leader of the White Nationalist American Freedom Party. Some chalked up Cruz’s win to an elaborate conspiracy to keep Trump from becoming the president.

“This has probably been rigged in favor of Cruz, by elitists behind the scenes who fear they won’t be able to control a President Trump,” user GreyWolf1972 wrote.

Others surmised that the uptick in support for Rubio, who ended up a close third in the final tally, was orchestrated by undercover Democrats on a mission to bring Trump down.

“How many Hispanic Democrats switched to Republican party in Iowa tonight to vote on Latino anchor baby Marco Rubio?” Diet_Cokeaholic wondered.

These fervent Trump bootlickers can only imagine that a conspiracy must have foiled their golden-haired idol. He is the only person who validates their nationalism, the one man who suggests their ideas might not always be confined to the darkest corners of the Web. Now that Rubio may be the candidate to beat, they really hate his guts.

“On the CNN the Jews and the Negro Van Dindoo are making even less sense,” wrote user piltene. “Marco Rubio like a little shark smiling and bragging now.”

Instead of spouting epithet-ridden laments, 4chan reacted to the loss as if their pet died.

A “Trump Support Group Thread” emerged moments after word of his loss to Ted Cruz spread around the internet. “TRUMP IS GOING TO GET REKT INTO 3RD ITS ALL OVER,” someone further down on the thread wrote. Another thread, which featured an image of an angry Ron Jeremy, read in all caps: “IOWA DOES NOT DECIDE THE REPUBLICAN.” The first commenter so desperately wanted to agree but you could tell he was worried.

“Faggot, we know that,” he wrote. “Trump needs 2ND PLACE though. 3rd place or lower, and every MSM will start ramming their dicks onscreen for a month straight trying to slay the god-emperor.”

4chan is the website where users have invested hours into crafting elaborate memes of the candidate they either ironically or seriously or somewhere in the middle, refer to as “dank.” In one instance Trump manually retweeted a video called “You Can’t Stump the Trump (Volume 4)” to the uproarious delight of every basement-dweller in the forum. This is their unlikely hero and on Monday night, he let them down.

Yet at least one person speculated that this loss was intentional and that Trump was creating a distraction for everyone to get a leg up as the race continues.

“Gotta lull your opponents into a false sense of security, and the media will do exactly that,” wrote user IMFUCKINGZYZZBRAH. “For Trump, for free. We accept defeat for this battle, but not for the war.”

In the conspiracy wing of the Internet, there was still hope for a brighter future.

“It’s what they expected—a narrow loss,” InfoWars radio host and paranoia proliferator Alex Jones said in an audio message to The Daily Beast. He has touted Trump’s nationalist appeal on his show in the past, even having the GOP frontrunner on for an interview in between ads about DNA-altering supplements. “Then he goes on to dominate New Hampshire and other states. He was advised not to campaign there,” Jones said referring to Iowa. “That’s what’s going on. The evangelicals—some of them just couldn’t vote for Trump.”

For the fringe arm of the cultish and conspiratorial Internet, anyone who is not Trump is a waste of space, often a meaningless minority or extension of the Jewish powers that be.

In this snake pit, Trump is king. But on Monday night, he got a dent in his crown.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, February 2, 2016

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Iowa Caucuses, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Forget The Geneva Conventions And The Bill Of Rights”: Cruz And Trump’s ISIS Plans Sound A Lot Like War Crimes

Carpet-bombing with no regard for civilian casualties. Murdering the possibly-innocent families of terrorists just to make a point. The line between official U.S. policy and action movie fantasy was unfortunately blurred during the Republican debate on Tuesday night, when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the frontrunners for the nomination—Trump with 33 percent in the polls, Cruz with 16—tried to out-macho one another on foreign policy.

The result was both candidates doubling down on strategies that involve war crimes.

Cruz has often said that he wants to “carpet-bomb ISIS into oblivion,” joking that we’ll find out if “sand can glow in the dark” in the process.

Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “Does that mean leveling the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria, where there are hundreds of thousands of civilians?”

Cruz replied, “What it means is using overwhelming airpower to utterly and completely destroy ISIS.”

By way of example, he pointed to the first Gulf War, when “we carpet-bombed them for 37 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half, mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.”

The architects of that Gulf War effort, which featured the first major use of precision-guided bombs, would probably disagree that it was was “saturation” or “carpet” bombing. And according to the International Criminal Court, war crimes include “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population.” Cruz said the objective would be to kill members of ISIS, not civilians, but there’s no such thing as a precise, narrowly-targeted carpet-bombing campaign. The tactic, which began in the Spanish Civil War and flowered fully in World War II, is to drop thousands of munitions on a single area—and flatten in. It is the opposite of precise.

Not long after Cruz’s exchange, Trump was asked a question by Josh Jacob, an earnest, yellow sweater vest-wearing student from Georgia Tech. He wanted to know how Trump justified his assertion that the U.S. should kill the families of terrorists, when that “violates the principle of distinction between combatants and family members.”

He asked, “How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?”

Trump puffed up like a blowfish. “We have to be much tougher and stronger than we’ve been,” he said. He pointed to the San Bernardino attack, arguing that people who knew the terrorist husband and wife no doubt were aware that they were up to no good. “They knew exactly what was going on,” he said.

“When you had the World Trade center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “They knew what was going on. They went home and wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.”

To Trump, there is no possibility that the families, friends or loved ones of terrorists could be disconnected from terrorism, and so, “I would be very, very firm with families. And, frankly, that will make people think—because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”

Earlier this month, Trump was even bolder. “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” he said on Fox & Friends. “You have to take out their families.”

Inconveniently enough for Trump, murder is also classified as a war crime.

But that may not matter to the audience at the debate.

Advocating for breaking international humanitarian laws almost looked reasonable next to Trump’s North Korea-influenced proposal to “close” parts of the Internet frequented by terrorists. (As if the U.S. doesn’t gather all sorts of intelligence from those corners of the digital world.)

And applause predictably broke out when Hillary et al. were criticized for failing to decry “Islamic terror.”

Other ideas, like Rand Paul’s meek suggestion that America might perhaps consider the Bill of Rights from time to time, hardly received any notice.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, December 16, 2015

 

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Carpet Bombing, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Big Media Gatekeepers Are America’s Embarrassment”: Why The Biggest Problem With The Media Is Not ‘Liberal Bias’

Lately, Republican presidential candidates have found a political target that’s easier to hit than their primary rivals or even Hillary Clinton: the media.

For instance, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) scolded the moderators of last month’s CNBC debate, saying, “The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” Likewise, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) declared, “The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media.” And more recently, Ben Carson accused the media of reporting “a bunch of lies” that called into question parts of his biography. “I think it’s pathetic, and basically what the media does is they try to get you distracted,” he said.

Republicans are right to criticize the mainstream media, but they are doing it for the wrong reasons. That’s because the biggest problem with the media today is not their alleged liberal bias. Rather, it’s a corporatized system that is rigged against the public interest and failing our democracy. If they are truly interested in making the media better, here are three principles that politicians from both parties should embrace.

  1. No more mergers. Earlier this year, Comcast abandoned its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable after the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department signaled that they would oppose it. The collapse of the deal between the country’s two largest cable companies, which opponents argued would lead to higher prices and worse customer service, was an important victory for consumers and media reformers alike. As former FCC commissioner Michael Copps wrote at the time, “combining America’s two largest cable providers would have been anti-competitive, anti-consumer and anti-democracy.” But the merger’s defeat, while critical, was only one battle in a much larger war against media conglomeratization.

Almost immediately after Comcast dropped out, Charter Communications, the fourth-largest cable company, initiated its own bid to take over Time Warner Cable. A coalition of reform groups, including Common Cause and Free Press, is campaigning against the deal and asking supporters to sign a letter of opposition to the FCC. “If the transaction were approved,” the coalition warns, “New Charter and Comcast together would form a national broadband duopoly controlling nearly two-thirds of existing customers and the telecommunications wires connected to nearly 8 out of every 10 U.S. homes.”

  1. Protect the open Internet. As I’ve written in the past, net neutrality is essential to our democracy because it preserves equal access to the Internet and prevents corporate interests from putting up barriers to the marketplace of ideas. In 2014, the FCC received about 4 million public comments on its proposed net neutrality rules, shattering the record set after Janet Jackson’s televised “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl a decade earlier. President Obama responded to the American people’s clear demands by calling on the FCC to adopt “the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality,” specifically endorsing the reclassification of the Internet as a public utility.

The FCC approved important regulations in February despite the objections of cable and telecommunications companies, as well as near-unanimous opposition from Republican lawmakers. Cruz, for example, has disparaged net neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet.” Though the rules went into effect earlier this year, the fight is not over. In addition to introducing legislation to repeal the regulations, a group of House Republicans filed a legal complaint in early November contending that the FCC lacked the authority to act on net neutrality without input from Congress.

  1. Enforce disclosure rules. The 2016 election is expected to cost significantly more than the $6 billion spent in 2012. According to one estimate, television ads alone will account for some $4.4 billion in spending, much of it from super PACs and secretive “dark money” groups. For now, the avalanche of big money in our politics is inevitable, but there is a way to better inform the public and hold billionaire donors accountable. As Copps wrote in 2013, “All we need is for an independent agency, the Federal Communications Commission, to enforce a campaign finance disclosure requirement that is already on the books.”

In fact, there has been a rule in place since 1934 that requires television broadcasters to disclose the “true sponsor” of all advertisements. If properly enforced, the rule would entitle viewers to see not only the name of the group sponsoring political ads but also the donors behind them. Last month, Common Cause, the Sunlight Foundation, the Campaign Legal Center and Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation sent a letter calling on the FCC to force the disclosure of who is paying for campaign ads. “Voters across the land are under assault from shadowy secret money groups,” said Copps, who is now an adviser to Common Cause. “The FCC has the authority it needs right now to shine a light on all those anonymous broadcast and cable ads.”

While the three principles above are essential, the mainstream media obviously have more problems, too: their dedication to false balance, their bias toward sensationalism, their neglect of consequential issues, their policing of the debate. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said during this weekend’s Democratic debate, “What I would like for the media now is for us to be talking about why the middle class is disappearing, why we have more people in jail than any other country, why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, and we’re the only major country on Earth without paid family and medical leave. We’ve gotten off the Hillary’s e-mails, good. Let’s go to the major issues facing America.”

But the mainstream media will never do those issues justice as long as they are more accountable to powerful corporate interests than the people they serve. That’s why, as 2016 approaches, it’s as important as ever for keep building the movement for reform. “Without media reform, we simply cannot reform our country,” Copps told me. “No matter what issue a voter cares about, it won’t get anywhere with the media corporate-speak and infotainment that we’re being fed. Big media gatekeepers are America’s embarrassment.”

 

By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 17, 2015

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Mainstream Media, Media Mergers | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Secret Knowledge, Just Ignorance By Another Name”: The Real Facts Behind The Facts “They” Want You To Believe

I call it the Secret Knowledge.

Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you’ll never see in your “newspapers” or “network news” or any other place overly concerned with verifiable “facts” and reliable “sources.” It will not come to you through a university “study,” peer-reviewed “article,” renowned “expert,” government “agency” or any other such traditional bastion of authority.

No, the Secret Knowledge is the truth behind the truth, the real facts behind the facts “they” want you to believe. It unveils the conspiracies beneath the facade suckers mistake for real life. Not incidentally, the Secret Knowledge will always confirm your worst fears.

I don’t know when the mania for Secret Knowledge began. Maybe it was when King and the Kennedys were killed and some of us could not shake a gnawing suspicion that the stories we were told were not the whole truth. Maybe it was when a man walked on the moon and it was so amazing some of us refused to believe it had happened. Maybe it was when Watergate shattered public trust. Maybe it was when The X-Files fed a shivering unease that we inhabited a world of lies within lies.

But if we can’t say for certain when the mania began, the fact that it’s here is beyond dispute. Indeed, it has spread like, well … measles.

Ay, there’s the rub. Also the scratching.

As you have no doubt heard, that highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease, which this country declared eradicated 15 years ago, has returned. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were fewer than 50 cases in 2002, and there were 644 last year. Already this year, there have been over 100 cases.

Authorities say much of this resurgence is due to the refusal of a growing number of parents to vaccinate their kids. The parents think the shots are dangerous, citing a 1998 study by a British doctor who claimed to have found a link between vaccinations and autism. As it turns out, that study was debunked and retracted, and the doctor lost his license. But the alleged link lives on, fueled by Jenny McCarthy, who has become a frontwoman of sorts for the anti-vaccination movement.

Bad enough the Secret Knowledge drives our politics (Barack Obama is a Muslim from Kenya), our perception of controversy (Trayvon Martin was a 32-year-old tough with tattoos on his neck), our understanding of environmental crisis (there is no scientific consensus on global warming) and our comprehension of tragedy (9/11 was an inside job). Apparently, it now drives health care, too.

So a onetime Playboy model who says she was schooled at “the University of Google” holds more sway with some of us than, say, the CDC. It is an Internet Age paradox: We have more information than ever before and yet, seem to know less. Indeed, in the Internet Age, it can be fairly said that nothing is ever truly, finally knowable, authoritative testimony always subject to contradiction by some blogger grinding axes, some graduate of Google U, somebody who heard from somebody who heard from somebody who heard.

And let us pause here to cast shame on would-be presidents Chris Christie and Rand Paul, who both said last week that vaccinations should be a matter of parental choice, a particularly craven bit of pandering that ignores a simple principle you’d think we’d all support: your right to make irresponsible decisions about your child ends at my right to safeguard my child’s health. But in an era of designer facts and homemade truth, maybe there are no simple principles any more.

As a disease once thought over and done with comes back like some ’90s boy band, this much seems obvious:

The Secret Knowledge is just ignorance by another name.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, February 9, 2015

February 15, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Public Health, Vaccinations | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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