Sunday, March 13, 2016

Donald Trump's Ideology of Violence

Following up on the last post, Ezra Klein has a piece in Vox that looks deeper into Donald Trump's responsibility for the growing violence his supporters are willing to direct at those Trump is labeling as "other" or "them."  Like his Nazi predecessors, the fault for the circumstances in which his supporters find themselves is never due to their own failings - e.g., not finishing high school, clinging to and embracing ignorance, etc. - but due to someone else's behavior or undermining.  Those falling into the "other" or "them" categories are blacks, Hispanic immigrants, non-whites, non-Christians - the list is long.  And while Trump tries to blame the violence on outside protesters, he is continually send them message that is is perfectly alright - perhaps desired - that protesters be met with violence.  It is very, very scary.  That evangelical Christians are rallying to such a message shows the reality that conservative Christianity is itself a threat and evil as well.  Here are article highlights:
During a rally in St. Louis Friday, Donald Trump lamented that "nobody wants to hurt each other anymore." Yes, lamented.
The topic was protesters, and Trump's frustration was clear. "They're being politically correct the way they take them out," he sighed. "Protesters, they realize there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore."
"Our country has to toughen up folks. We have to toughen up. These people are bringing us down. They are bringing us down. These people are so bad for our country, you have no idea."
This is more than an aside; this is the core of Trump's ideology. The protesters who interrupted his rally, the political correctness that kept the police from cracking their skulls, the press that takes the hippies' side — this is why America has stopped being great. We were strong, and we were tough, and we didn't take this kind of shit from anybody. And now we are weak, and we are scared, and we take this kind of shit from everybody.
How is a country that can't shut down a protester going to out-negotiate the Chinese? How is a country that that is so afraid of hurt feelings going to crush ISIS?
Violence is scary. But violence-as-ideology is terrifying. And that's where Trump's campaign has gone.
On February 1st, Trump made a promise to an angry crowd. You protect me, he said, and I'll protect you. "If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Knock the hell out of them. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise."
No one threw a tomato at that rally. But a few weeks later, Donald Trump showed that he meant what he said — if you used force to protect him, he'd have your back.  Trump was leaving a rally when Michelle Fields, a reporter for the Trump-friendly Breitbart News, stepped forward to ask a question. Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager, grabbed her by the arm and threw her out of the way. His grip was hard enough to leave bruises on her arm. The moment was witnessed by Ben Terris, a Washington Post reporter, and there's audio and video record of it.
Donald Trump will pay your legal fees. He will believe your baldfaced lie. He is on your side against the protesters, the press, the losers who are bring America down. He knows things get rough sometimes. He's got your back.
The great mistake the media makes with Donald Trump is to pretend he has no ideology — that he's just a celebrity, a carnival barker, a reality star.
As my colleague Matt Yglesias has written, Trump does have an ideology. He does have an agenda. The core of Trumpism is "a revived and unapologetic American nationalism, which will stand for American interests abroad while defending the traditional conception of the American nation at home."
Like most nationalists, the emotional center of Trump's ideology is an Us vs. Them argument. "These are not the people who made our country great," Trump told the crowd in St. Louis. "We're going to make it great again, but these are not the people. These are the people that are destroying our country."
This is what Trump supporters hear at his rallies. They are told that America is no longer great. They are told who to blame. They are told that the reason these losers are dragging America down is we have become too politically correct, too scared, too weak, to stop them. They are told Trump will pay their legal fees if they want to do what's necessary. "There used to be consequences," Trump sighs. The crowd knows what he's asking. Make Consequences Real Again.
This is ugly, but it is coherent. What Trump is offering is an explanation and a solution; an argument and an ideology. It is dangerous, and it is violent, but it is not confusing, and it is not unclear.
And this is why Trump is something different and more dangerous in American life. He is a man with an evident appetite for suppressing dissent with violence, a man who believes America's problem is that it's too gentle to its dissidents. Trump is making an argument for a politics backed by force, for a security service unleashed from "political correctness," for a country where protesting has consequences. The results are playing out before us, night after night, on our televisions.
If Trump wins and this country goes down a dark path, we will never be able to say we didn't see it coming. We will never be able to say we weren't warned. 
Be very afraid - but also, do not sit back and quietly let this ugliness grow.  Trump and the ugliness that he and the GOP represent must be defeated.  Get involved and for God's sake get out an vote Democrat come November.

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