Friday, March 25, 2016

Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear

Donald Trump supporters - in addition to being noted for their low educational levels in many cases - are defined by their fear: fear of blacks, fear of immigrants, fear of modernity and fear of the erosion of their perceived white privilege.  Sadly, Trump, a reality TV/carnival barker, seems to know how to use these fears and ignorance to whip up the allegiance of those who resent others and see a threat under every bush - and behind every non-white face.  A column in the New York Times looks at Trump's cynical use of fear mongering that has parallel's with Hitler's use of fear of internal and external enemies to get his followers to ignore the growing fascist takeover that was underway.  Here are column excerpts:

Among the volley of lies spit out of the coarse mouth of Donald Trump on a daily basis is his claim that he’s leading Hillary Clinton in the general election matchup for president. “I beat Hillary in many of the polls that have been taken, and each week I get better and better,” he said earlier this month.

Nope, not even close. The Bloomberg Poll that came out on Wednesday had Clinton besting Trump, 54 percent to 36. The Wall Street Journal survey had Clinton up by 13. She leads by 10 in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. And she’s up 11.4 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of all the polls. With each passing week he actually does much worse.

So, rest assured, yes? At the least, our country won’t be in the undersize hands of a crazed narcissist. I wish. What keeps millions of people up at night is the one-trick pony that Trump could ride all the way into the White House: fear. If enough Americans cower in hysteria, Trump might be able to pull this thing off. Without a filter of decency or a shred of diplomacy, Trump gloated about how the latest mass murder by the Islamic State barbarians helped him. . . . . [He] said the fear cast by Islamic State terror “is probably why I’m No. 1 in the polls.” 

Let’s pause to behold a rare Trump acknowledgment of a bit of truthiness: The more people who are murdered by the savages from the Islamic State, the better it is for him. The Islamic State is a gift to Trump. And he is a gift to them, playing into the grand scheme of the killers. He would make the world far less safe, and bring the Islamic State closer to the global clash of worlds that those monsters desire. Paris — the slaughter of 130 people in November. 

In Trump’s telling, it was a wonderful turning point for him. “Paris happened, and Paris was a disaster,” he said. “And what happened with me is this whole run took on a whole new meaning.” From there, he lumped Paris, the Mexican border and the Syrian refugee crisis in one big rancid stew of fear. He ran dark and spooky television ads, including some in Arizona last week, showing Islamic terrorists, a picture of the Moroccan border that was supposed to be Mexico, and his promise to build the wall. In the wake of Brussels, he again said the United States should “close up our borders to people until we figure out what’s going on” and ramp up the torture of terror suspects. 

It gets tedious reminding people that Trump’s ideas on how to stop terror have nothing to do with the problem, but let’s give it another go. The Paris killers are not — repeat, not — Syrian refugees. Nor are they from Mexico. They are Belgian and French citizens, criminals and thugs, radicalized in the festering tenements of Brussels. The biggest wall in the world cannot prevent hatred from taking over a malleable mind, aided by Internet poison. 

As for torture, numerous military experts have concluded that it yields little useful information, and of course violates international conventions signed by the United States. 

[T] he Republican front-runner exposed himself, again, as someone who is monumentally ill prepared to be commander in chief. He listens only to himself, as he said this month, and what his gut tells him is that his only path to the White House is to do everything he can to make people feel very afraid.

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