Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump/Pence: Vulgarians at the Gate

As one friend noted on Facebook, within an hour of the swearing in of Trump/Pence, both the White House and Department of Labor websites have been scrubbed clean of references to LGBT civil rights. The completely expected start to a uniformly anti-LGBT government is clearly underway even as "friends" who voted for these foul individuals chat "sore loser" or "give him a chance" to those of us who are rightly fearful of the future.  The rage I feel - and rage is the correct term - towards these individuals is hard to quantify.  The coming assault on LGBT rights means nothing to them as white, heterosexual Christians because it doesn't effect them directly.  Their rights and sense of safety - at least for now - remain intact, so why care.  Frighteningly, its the same mindset that held sway in 1930's Germany.  The worse part of it all, to me is the normalizing of the reprehensible and manner in which deviancy is being defined downward with the "godly Christian" crowd cheering it on. As I noted myself in a Facebook post, I am seriously beginning the process of checking out the steps involved in securing dual citizenship in my mother's birth country - "just in case."  Two pieces in Salon look at the disturbing happenings.  Here are  highlights of the first that looks at the vulgarity that is now acceptable:
You see grown men wearing t-shirts printed with dick jokes. You hear parents shouting obscenities at the television during a football game, while their children throw food at one another. The woman behind you on the commuter train discusses the intricacies of her sex life on her cell phone. Right-wing commentators freely use terms like “libtard” and “cuck” to ridicule their ideological opponents, and then complain about “political correctness.” You watch as the Republican presidential nominee brags about the length of his penis, and is then caught on tape boasting about “grabbing women by the pussy” without their consent. Similar to tax policy, the admission soon becomes subject to partisan debate, then quickly forgotten. 

These are but a few of the sights and sounds now normal in an increasingly coarse and crude culture. . . . . Once a culture permits the previously unthinkable, the next logical move is tolerance of something even worse. A leader should challenge the audience, seek to inspire ambition for improvement, and offer an aspirational model for emulation. Trump’s vulgarity, in the Latin sense and the more contemporary meaning of crudity, comforts people at their basest urges, biases and fears. As President Jimmy Carter, a decidedly sophisticated leader, especially by comparison, said of the new President, “He makes people feel good about their prejudices.” . . . “It is fine if you remain uninformed and uncultured,” he might as well be whispering into the ears of his devoted followers. 

One definition of “vulgarian” is an “unrefined person with newly acquired power.” The surreal, science fiction image of Trump taking the oath of office with his hand on the Bible represents a triumph for the coarsest and crudest elements of American culture. . . . . The White House is now occupied by a narcissistic drama queen who fails to adhere to any standard of basic decency, whether they are admonitions against mocking disabled people or taboos against the objectification of women. . . . Trump will enforce the same degradation of public standards from the most powerful office in the country.

The second piece looks at the ugliness and bigotry of the base of support of Trump/Pence.  Here are excerpts:
Like many campaign slogans, MAGA [Make America Great Again] can mean a great many things. To a young white male who identifies with the alt-right and Richard Spencer, for example, it is code for making America white and “culturally pure” again; to an evangelical Christian, it stands for making America devout and dogmatic again; to a blue-collar worker in the Rust Belt, it means making America a manufacturing powerhouse again.
And then there’s someone like Christopher von Keyserling, a local Republican politician in Connecticut who was recently in the news after being arrested for pinching a woman in the genitals. According to reports, von Keyserling got into a political argument with the victim at an unnamed town facility in early December. After saying “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” and calling the woman a “lazy, bloodsucking union employee,” he proceeded to reach from behind her, “place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area.”

People were quick to note the disturbing parallels between von Keyserling’s behavior and President Donald Trump’s, as described to Billy Bush in 2005. In this Trumpian world, von Keyserling thought that he could be as vulgar, sexist and indecent as his party’s leader — who managed to win the election even after admitting to conduct that appeared to fit the definition of sexual assault.

“Make America Great Again” can mean many things, but it is ultimately a slogan that appeals to the politics of reaction. Whether it’s a white supremacist longing for the time when the white race dominated without shame or guilt; a bitter old man reminiscing about the days when all women were ladies; or a Christian fundamentalist who idealizes the period before Roe v. Wade, birth control and Charles Darwin, they are united in their reaction and collectively feel like victims of the modern age. Needless to say, women, people of color and LGBT people are much less inclined to romanticize the “good old days.”

The Trump campaign has accelerated the disintegration of public morality, and now the Trump administration threatens to shatter much of the progress that has been made over the past several decades, and return us to the bad old days.

Decent, moral people should be very, very afraid of what the future will hold if these forces are allowed to prevail. 

No comments: