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“Endorsing This Philistine”: The Christian Right Has Surrendered To Trump

As Jerry Falwell Jr. spoke on the Republican convention’s final night, longtime observers of the Christian Right movement, of which his father was a founder, had to shake their heads in wonder. Gone was the usual claim that the Republican candidate was a Man of God motivated by profound faith and humbled by a sense of religious duty. Gone was any long recitation of Christian Right issue positions or accomplishments. Gone, perhaps most significantly, was any reminder of the covenant between conservative Christians and the Republican Party in which the former took the spiritual risk of political engagement in exchange for the latter’s promise to turn back the cultural clock.

Instead, Falwell emphasized Trump’s pledge to change the half-century-old IRS rule in which nonprofit groups (including churches and other religious institutions) were told they had to choose between tax-exempt status and the ability to endorse political candidates and engage in direct electioneering activities — a pledge the tycoon made in a recent meeting with conservative Evangelical leaders designed to win them over. Like many of these leaders, Falwell, who endorsed this Philistine at the very beginning of the 2016 cycle, has in a crude, transactional manner sold out, like a ward heeler with a constituency that needs favors from the Boss.

Yes, Trump has also gone to some lengths to promise judicial appointments sure to support reversals of the constitutional right to abortion and same-sex marriage. And, even more important, he’s made the Christian Right’s enemies his own — the “elitists” and “cultural relativists” of the secular left and mainstream media, the Muslims that deny Jesus as the exclusive Way, and the disparagers of Israel’s biblical role in the Last Days. Going along with this politician’s ambitions is a small matter of overlooking his crudity and egoism; his instrumental treatment of other people (especially women); his deep involvement in the Babylon of mass popular culture; and his “populist” manipulation of very un-Christian racial and ethnic resentments.

It’s hard to know what goes through the minds of people who consider themselves followers of a messiah who preached love for one’s enemies as they cheer Trump’s declarations that he wants to torture and kill terrorism suspects and their families, and deport millions of Christians and their children into destitution and violence, and reverse years of conservative Christian investment in criminal-justice reform, and intimidate other countries into letting America always be first. Like Falwell, they do mostly refrain from claiming that Trump — who has not been able to bring himself to admit the need for divine forgiveness — is himself a man of faith, though the Christian Right warhorse tried to suggest he was a “Baby Christian” who had only recently found God. But for the most part, they implicitly treat him as the Scourge of God (as Attila the Hun was once described), a pagan sent to smite the wicked.

Some conservative Christian leaders may simply emulate other conservative ideologues who, as a purely practical manner, have decided to go along with the Trump candidacy in hopes of inheriting the GOP after he loses, or cashing in chits if he wins. Or perhaps they are just following their flocks, unlike some (notably Southern Baptist spokesperson Russell Moore and longtime Christian Right and homeschooling advocate Michael Farris) who have made a prophetic stand against Trump. As longtime observer of Christian conservatives Sarah Posner noted:

July 13 Pew Research Center survey found that 78 percent of white evangelicals intend to vote for Trump — meaning Trump will likely match the level of support among white evangelicals enjoyed by George W. Bush in 2004, when white evangelicals made up 23 percent of the electorate, and were an essential 36 percent of all Bush voters.

This is obviously not the first time in Western history that religious people have followed irreligious politicians who promise to fight against the forces of cultural change that threaten all entrenched sources of privilege. But it must be painful to some to observe that, despite the trappings of religious invocations and the country musicians touting their Bible-believin’ (along with their trucks and their guns) as tokens of defiance toward liberals, this has been a profane convention celebrating profane values. Farris recently said the acceptance of Trump represented the “end of the Christian Right.” That may overstate the case, but the days when the GOP could comport itself as the Christian conservative party are gone for the immediate future. Conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat read the draft of Trump’s speech tonight and tweeted: “The speech is basically Buchananism without the religion.” That means culture war with no restraint, and perhaps no survivors. And that’s scary.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Christian Right, Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Jerry Falwell Jr | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Deaf, Dumb And Blind”: Trump’s Convention Was The Whitest Thing On TV — His Electorate Will Be, Too

This year’s Republican National Convention was the whitest event on TV. While Donald Trump made sure to line up some minority speakers who could attest that he’s not a racist, despite his multiple attacks against minorities, the ethnic composition and themes of the convention attendees undermined that effort in a big way.

According to The Washington Post, out of 2,472 total delegates, only 18 were black, less than one percent. Latinos made up five percent of total delegates, though only three Hispanics made it on stage.

Even some Republicans were alarmed by the overwhelming whiteness of the convention. A group of minority Republicans sent out a letter to RNC chairman Reince Priebus expressing concern over “deficits” in the party’s engagement with non-white communities.

“We have watched in dismay as the presumptive nominee of our Party, the Party of Abraham Lincoln, has caused massive defection, disgust, and disinterest with comments and behaviors that are offensive to the very demographics we need to win this election,” they wrote in the letter.

The way some RNC attendees and speakers used their ethnicity in order to convince the public of Trump’s character was cringeworthy. Lynne Patton, the vice president of Trump son Eric’s foundation and a Trump family friend, talked about how the Trumps stuck by her through her drug issues, and how she’s proof that the Trumps don’t hate minorities.

“As a minority myself, I personally pledge to you that Donald Trump knows that your life matters,” she continued. “He knows that my life matters, he knows that LGBTQ lives matter, he knows that veterans’ lives matter, he knows that blue lives matter,” she said.

Ralph Alvarado, a state senator from Kentucky, was the token Hispanic, and aimed to bring Latinos into a party that has turned increasingly hostile against them.

“There have been comments that I can’t agree with,” Alvarado said before his speech. “There’s things that he said that none of us like to hear, obviously with the judge… I know a lot of those things come from frustrations.”  Yet he aimed to show Trump as someone who will build a wall, but will include “a big beautiful door on the front of that wall,” echoing Trump’s plan to deport 11 million people and allow “the good ones” back in to the United States.

Jessica Fernandez, a 31-year-old Cuban American delegate, found it hard to fit in to a crowd of mostly white, mostly older Republicans.

“Just look around,” she told the Post. “I’m a little unicorn.”

The Miami native was rooting for Marco Rubio during the primaries, but now she was “toeing the line for Trump,” despite the many friends and loved ones who told her not to attend the RNC, and that they could not support Trump.

“I just wish Trump would chill with some of the rhetoric,” she said.

But the rhetoric Fernandez wishes Trump would avoid fuels his campaign’s base, and the convention made that very clear.

During Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday, a message from a white supremacist was shown in the hall.

“Tonight I’m with you, I will fight for you, and I will WIN for you!” -Donald J Trump It’s time to start WINNING again!

The @Western_Triumph Twitter handle is pretty self-explanatory, but their use of hashtags like #AltRight, #ProWhite, #RaceRealist and #LoveYourRace further evidences their views on race. Apparently, Trump’s social media director didn’t see fit to check that.

The phrases that got the most cheers from the crowd also made clear what kind of party Trump supporters want. Any mention of the wall got them going. When Sabine Durden called undocumented immigrants “illegal aliens,” they went wild.

Infamous KKK leader David Duke expressed unwavering enthusiasm for Trump’s convention. Seeing the opening for white nationalism created by Republican candidate, Duke just announced that he plans to run for a senate seat.

The RNC also tried, unsuccessfully, to reach another demographic at the receiving end of Trump’s rhetoric – women. Trump saved his best card, his daughter Ivanka, for the feat.

“At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives,” Ivanka said. “Women are paid equally for the work that we do, and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.”

While she discussed the gender pay gap, she denied it as the real issue creating wage discrepancy. Instead, she said motherhood is to blame, and promised her father would change labor laws and make childcare affordable. That hasn’t previously been in Trump’s agenda — did he read Ivanka’s speech? — and his campaign has not elaborated on this promise.

Ivanka is pretty, likable, and a great speaker, but the tone of the RNC completely dismantled her claims of a color- and gender-blind Donald Trump, at least as a candidate.

The racism present at the convention can only be matched by the misogyny it accompanied. Speakers and attendees over and over used Hillary Clinton as an excuse to voice centuries-old rhetoric against women.

Chris Christie’s speech, in which he had the crowd chant “guilty!” seemed like a trial against a woman who dared step outside her lines in the seventeenth century.

The Salem-style witch-hunt against Clinton was a major theme in the convention. Trump advisor and delegate Al Baldasaro, who was present at the convention, has repeatedly stated that Clinton should be shot for treason. An Ohio politician, not at the convention, said the same week that she should be “hanging from a tree,” a statement he later apologized for, unlike Baldasaro, who is now being investigated by the FBI for his remarks.

T-shirts with the words “Life’s a Bitch – Don’t Vote for One,” flew off the racks. Other hot items included a pin that said “KFC Hillary Special. Two fat thighs, two small breasts… left wing,” and a shirt with Trump riding a motorcycle, wearing a shirt that says “If you can read this, the bitch fell off,” showing Clinton falling off the bike.

What does Ivanka think about that?

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, July 22, 2016

July 23, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Meaning Of Trump’s Cult Of Political Incorrectness”: Any Sensitivity To Others’ Feelings Is Considered Weakness

It’s difficult to believe Donald Trump is anti-Semitic. For one thing, his adored daughter Ivanka is a convert to Judaism, out of solidarity with her Jewish husband. For another, as a New York–based business tycoon, Trump has interacted frequently and cordially with Jewish colleagues, employees, investors, politicians, and members of the news media throughout his career.

That’s all the more reason to puzzle over the weaselly reaction of Trump and his campaign to allegations one of his Twitter blasts at Hillary Clinton borrowed anti-Semitic imagery from one of Trump’s anti-Semitic supporters. Trump has gone to great lengths to claim that the image in question isn’t what it is, and has in general done everything other than the obvious: apologize for screwing up and forcefully disassociate himself with his alt-right fan club.

In a thorough examination of the incident, Matt Yglesias hit on an important insight about Trump that goes beyond anti-Semitism:

Trump has not acted to distance himself in any way from the anti-Semitic behavior of his followers. There’s been nothing remotely in the vicinity of Barack Obama’s famous race speech from the 2008 campaign, and Trump has consistently appeared angrier about being criticized for ties to anti-Semites than about the anti-Semitism expressed by many of his fans.

Some might associate this reluctance to admit error, apologize, and then move on to Trump’s narcissism — those who endlessly admire themselves in every mirror are not prone to see or admit flaws.

But there’s something else going on that makes Trump’s supporters share the same reluctance to say they are sorry. He’s developed a cult of “political incorrectness” in which any sensitivity to others’ feelings is considered weakness, and the impulse to apologize for offensive remarks or behavior is dismissed as a surrender to bullying by elites and their minority-group clientele.

In his long, sympathetic meditation on Trump’s supporters for the New Yorker, George Saunders noticed this same phenomenon:

Above all, Trump supporters are “not politically correct,” which, as far as I can tell, means that they have a particular aversion to that psychological moment when, having thought something, you decide that it is not a good thought, and might pointlessly hurt someone’s feelings, and therefore decline to say it.

In other words, there’s a tendency in Trumpland to view what most of us consider common decency as “political correctness,” which is to be avoided at all costs, most especially when the opprobrium of liberal elitists is involved.  It’s no accident, then, that Trump sometimes seems to court the appearance of impropriety, and defend examples of rudeness, crudeness, and bigotry even when he’s not personally guilty of perpetrating them.

Trump did not invent this strange mindset, of course. Right-wing talk-radio types have made a living from baiting liberals and women and minorities and then inciting listeners to express umbrage at the resulting outrage. Trump’s former rival and current supporter Dr. Ben Carson could not go five minutes on the presidential campaign trail without attacking “political correctness” as the source of all evil and as a secular-socialist stratagem for silencing the Folks by shaming them.

For the generally decent Carson, “political correctness” remained something of an abstraction. It’s taken Trump to paint it in garish realism. To use a phrase beloved of Trump’s great predecessor in political sin George Wallace, the mogul does not “pussyfoot around” in offending his detractors and those people — the pushy feminists and entitled minorities whose very presence profanes America in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Trump tells it like it is, which means he is not inhibited by a civility that masks nasty but essential truths.

Inevitably, this nasty but essential explanation of Trump’s appeal will annoy supporters and enemies alike, who insist on ascribing purely economic motives to those who have lifted him so shockingly high in American political life. Sorry, but I don’t think uncontrollable rage at having to “press 1 for English” or say “Happy Holidays” can be explained by displaced anger over wage stagnation or the decline of the American manufacturing sector. As Saunders said in another of his insights into Trump supporters:

[T]he Trump supporter might be best understood as a guy who wakes up one day in a lively, crowded house full of people, from a dream in which he was the only one living there, and then mistakes the dream for the past: a better time, manageable and orderly, during which privilege and respect came to him naturally, and he had the whole place to himself.

Such a guy may well be old enough to remember a time when he and people just like him could behave as though they had America to themselves. Nowadays that gets you hostile looks, a rebuke from HR, a shaming from moral authorities, and sometimes worse. But Donald Trump will fight for your right to offend in your own damn country. And some offenders will love him for it.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 5, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Political Correctness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Add Native Americans To Team Trump’s List”: Casual, Everyday Racism Should Be Shocking, Not Routine

It can be challenging to keep track of every American constituency Donald Trump and his campaign have offended with insulting language. At various points, the Republican presidential candidate and his operation have alienated women, Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, veterans, and people with disabilities, among others.

But in case it wasn’t obvious before, Native Americans certainly belong on the same list.

But while Trump was hammering trade and his should-be allies-turned-adversaries, it was his opening act that picked up the mantle of attack against Democrats, specifically Elizabeth Warren. Taking a cue from Trump’s nickname of “Pocahontas” for Sen. Warren, conservative New England radio host Howie Carr took the moniker one step further during the pre-rally show.

“You know Elizabeth Warren, right?” Carr said, tapping his hand over his mouth in a mock tribal chant. The crowd loved it, some joining in with chants of their own.

Slate’s Josh Voorhees raised an important point about all of this: “In the big bucket of Trump-sanctioned racism, a mock war cry from a guy who introduced the guy who introduced the candidate is but a drop. Still, if this were anyone but Trump we were talking about, he or she would be pressured to condemn the remarks. Trump, though, has dulled everyone’s senses with a year’s worth of controversy, so this barely registers.”

And that’s a shame. Casual, everyday racism should be shocking, not routine.

It’s also true that for all the media chatter about the new, more mature Trump campaign operation – we’ve heard quite a bit about an alleged “pivot” and “Trump 2.0” – evidence of the purported shift doesn’t appear to exist.

But Carr’s ugly attempt at racial humor also serves as a reminder that when it comes to Native Americans, Team Trump’s record is tough to defend.

The subject has come up before, following Trump’s attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) family heritage, but it goes much further. The Huffington Post reported this week, for example, “Prior to being the GOP frontrunner, Trump was a real estate tycoon who was trying to hack it as a casino magnate. And while the LA Times reported that he would court Native American tribes when it worked to his advantage, he also routinely targeted their casino operations in hostile, racially provocative terms.”

Trump accused the Native-American-run casinos of being fronts for the mob to get unfair tax breaks and avoid anti-corruption regulations. But he didn’t stop there. He used racial epithets and funded secretive campaigns to drum up opposition to those casinos. Like with Warren, he questioned whether the main operators were actually Native American at all.

The most famous instance of this came during congressional testimony Trump gave in 1993, when he triumphantly declared: “They don’t look like Indians to me and they don’t look like Indians to Indians.”

Trump would go on to tell radio host Don Imus that same year that he would “perhaps become an Indian myself” if he felt that it might give him an economic advantage. “I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations,” he said. Imus concurred: “A couple of these Indians up in Connecticut look like Michael Jordan, frankly.”

I’m sure there are minority groups that Trump hasn’t insulted with offensive language, but it’s getting more difficult to find them.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Native Americans, Racism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The First Of Many”: Sen. Mark Kirk ‘Un-Endorses’ Donald Trump

The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

First un-endorsement — Sen. Mark Kirk. “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President.”

— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 7, 2016

On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:

Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.

— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016

Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.

“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s

“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.

Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Mark Kirk, Tammy Duckworth | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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