|The real "angry mob" - far right militias and white supremacists.|
The dishonesty of today's Republican Party and its willingness to employ dog whistle to encourage violence is both breath taking and frightening. With the likelihood of Democrats retaking control of at least the House of Representatives, Republican fear mongering has risen to new heights as Der Trumpenführer describes Democrats as "an angry mob" and the mainline party now running ads that depict Democrats as the Antifa, an extreme and tiny faction of what some in years past might have called anarchists. In reality, the Antifa hold the Democrats in about the same contempt as Republicans. Moreover, the Republicans ignore the much, much larger white supremacist groups, open carry gun extremists and right wing militias that rally to the Trump/Pence standard. But sadly, the truth means nothing to today's Republicans. Indeed, if their lips are moving the best assumption - the same holds for the Christofascists - is to assume they are lying until it is proven otherwise. What is most disturbing is the fact that Republican tactics mimick those used by past dictators as they rose to power. A piece in New York Magazine looks at this outright, deliberate lie about Democrats. Here are excerpts:
In the closing weeks of last year’s special election in Georgia, Republicans used footage of a riot by Antifa — a fringe sect that views the Democratic party with contempt — to characterize the moderate Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff as a dangerous loon. In the closing weeks of the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans have taken this message national. Democrats are an “angry mob,” charges
PresidentTrump. “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry, left-wing mob. And that’s what the Democrats have become.”Conservatives have begun repeating Trump’s message. “Yes, Democrats, It’s a Mob,” writes David Harsanyi. “Sorry, Democrats, Progressive Mob Action Is a Real Problem,” declares an almost–identically headlined David French column. Neither Harsanyi nor French is prepared to fully defend all of President Trump’s behavior in this department. What they argue, instead, is that Trump’s sins have been exaggerated and are minor in comparison with those of his opponents.
The Republican cries about mobs bring together a wide range of behavior, mostly involving screaming crowds confronting elected officials. In general, I find confrontational protest tactics to be a counterproductive tactic. I also think the behavior of such protesters is essentially the same thing we saw from Tea Party demonstrators under Barack Obama. Many of these demonstrators were specifically taught to shout down the proceedings and “rattle” members of Congress. Some of those right-wing protesters spit, screamed, shoved, and used racial epithets. At the time, the conservative line on this was that the movement was being unfairly smeared by the actions of a small fringe. Today, the two sides have basically reversed positions on the angry-protesters question, with conservatives using a handful of the angriest protests to discredit an entire movement, and liberals objecting to being defined by their most vocal minority. What actually is new to American politics is Trump’s assault on democratic norms. French dismisses the “lock her up” chants as empty rally talk. In fact, the chant, which began in the campaign, prefigured Trump’s deadly serious ambition to turn the Department of Justice into a weapon of personal control, that would harass Trump’s enemies while simultaneously quashing any wrongdoing by him and his allies. Trump has articulated this goal consistently, in public as well as in private. To the extent he has yet to succeed, it is only because the senate has prevented him from installing a sufficiently pliant attorney general — a restraint that may well disappear if the elections renew the Republican majority, which will no longer be laden with the most independent figures (John McCain, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker).
[Trump] has repeatedly attacked the news media as “the enemy of the people,” an epithet used by communist dictators, and has at least gestured at using his power to punish them. (Trump has mused about challenging licenses for television stations that report independently, and instructed the post office to raise rates on Amazon as retribution for critical coverage in the Washington Post.)
Susan Glasser, a seasoned and politically centrist reporter, observed six recent Trump rallies. She notes the cult of personality theme at the events, which feature “the kinds of tributes I have heard in places like Uzbekistan, but never before in America.” . . . “Where Trump differs starkly is in his insistence — made at an increasingly high pitch as the week went on — that Democrats not only want to legislate their way to socialism but that they are an actual clear and present danger to Americans.”
The method on display is familiar if you study any historical episode of democratic backsliding. One party, either from the far left or the far right, sets out to attack and weaken democratic norms. The small-d democrats resist, trying to maintain democratic norms. But they’re fighting at a disadvantage against a ruthless foe that does not observe their limits, and at least some of the opposition undertakes a more drastic action. Any offense becomes a pretext for the authoritarians, who exaggerate the threat of violence and chaos by their enemies to justify the antidemocratic measures they were planning all along.
Trump’s illiberalism only works because respectable conservatives cooperate with his fiction that he is more victim than aggressor. French writes, “It’s time to stop excusing, rationalizing, and minimizing [Trump/GOP] behavior that is dangerous, menacing, and threatening.” Indeed it is.