Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Right's Normalization of Immorality

Trump/Pence sycophant Alex Jones.
Former George W. Bush White House official Michael Gerson has another lament in the Washington Post about the normalization of immorality steadily taking place under the Trump/Pence regime and the lap dog like Republican Party. Gerson is an old style Republican - as I once was - where morality and the truth or at least some semblance of it - mattered. Not so under Trump/Pence despite Pence's feigned piety and religiosity.  Now, lies and outright lunacy are embraced so long as they evidence fealty to Der Trumpenf├╝hrer.  A perfect example is Trump world's rallying to defend Alex Jones, a delusional liar.   Yet Jones symbolizes what the Republican Party has become.  Republican "friends" who like to think otherwise are only deluding themselves.  Here are excerpts from Gerson's column: 

One of the current complaints of the Trump right concerns the treatment given to Alex Jones by Facebook, which has temporarily banned the Internet radio host for videos that violated “community standards.” 
At various points, Jones has promoted the belief that 9/11 was an “inside job,” that Hillary Clintonwas running a child sex ring out of a pizzeria, that NASA had built a child slave colony on Mars in order to harvest blood and bone marrow, that the Oklahoma City bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook school shooting were government “false flag” operations, that some shooting survivors were “crisis actors,” that “globalists” are intent on committing genocide and that Democrats are on the verge of launching a second civil war.
There are few things I enjoy less than spilling ink on Jones’s vile lunacy. But President Trump has made a great many unpleasant things unavoidable. He has appeared on Jones’s Infowars program and assured Jones that his “reputation is amazing.” The White House briefly gave Infowars a press credential. And Donald Trump Jr. has retweeted Infowars stories.
So what explains this theatrical wink and nod to the bedlam wing of the hard right?
This instance is important, not just for its directly destructive influence on political discourse, but also for its explanatory power. It represents not only a certain approach to political strategy but also a certain approach to morality, pressed to its logical extreme. Trump is not a dogmatist; he is an egotist. He judges others not by their convictions, or even by their hold on reality, but by their fidelity to his person. It is a form of identity politics in which all that counts is one man’s identity.
This is but one example of Trumpian ethics. Remember when a white man in Boston, spouting Trump slogans, beat up a homeless man outside a subway station? Trump responded: “People who are following me are very passionate.
Remember when a Trump supporter punched an African American man at a rally? Trump said that his follower “obviously loves his country.”
Remember when the alt-right provoked violence in Charlottesville? Trump pronounced some white nationalists to be “very fine people.”
[Trump] The president has a nearly impossible time criticizing his fans, even when they are guilty of hate crimes and violence. In Trump’s own private creed, they are absolved of guilt by their loyalty to him.
Any political movement is defined not just by what it aspires to, but also by whom it excludes. And the alt-right, the Alex Jones right, the white nationalist right know that they are fully included in Trump’s definition of his movement. They have become experts in tacking to the shifting winds of his whims. They know that their loyalty to him has been rewarded with a legitimacy they have craved for decades. And they are full, enthusiastic partners in the Trump project — to delegitimize any source of authority and information but his own.
Back in the world of actual morality, there is serious collateral damage. Congressional Republicans are further tainted by their association with right-wing extremism. Genuine populists are discredited by consorting with people who accuse elites of arming for mass murder. The religious right is caught in bed with a diseased, seeping moral relativism. And Fox anchors come to the defense of a man who verbally defiles the graves of murdered children.
Despite attempts at utilitarian justification — despite outrage-dulling repetition — this is not normal or moral. It will never be normal or moral.

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