An Exquisite Trolling

For those who read everything published everywhere every day, as I do not, the name of the person who writes the television listings for the Sunday Herald in Glasgow, Scotland, will come straight to mind. It is Damien Love, but you knew this already. I did not.

Earlier today, the newspaper published Love’s television listings for the week just started, the week that will culminate at noon (EST) on Friday, January 20, with the debut of a new reality show in the United States: the next presidential administration.

Damien Love wrote this brilliant description (as seen above):
Read More

Advertisements

Missing: Empathy

[He] sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millennialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse. … As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, [he] is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.—Richard Hofstadter, Harper’s Magazine

The above passage was not written recently. It does not describe anyone in the news right now. It was written in 1964 and published the month of the Presidential election that year in Harper’s. Its title is “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

Hofstadter was an historian who found himself concerned with the angry political rhetoric that was emerging that year and he re-discovered that there was little new to it, that in fact a “style” of rhetoric could be identified that regularly emerged and re-emerged in our history.

The “paranoid style” is back in America. Perhaps it never left.
Read More

‘The K***s Are in a Panic’

[Trigger alert: The following article quotes from antisemitic posts that have been published in recent days. I apologize.]

* * * *

Today marks the start of an era of bounty and happiness, although I’ll be honest with y’all and remind you that the road will surely be hard and draining at times.
 
But, at least my unborn son will come into a world ruled by a GREAT MAN that only comes around once every century or so.
—columnist “Marcus Cicero,” Infostormer web site, “Victory Is Ours!

Those who spend life’s precious heartbeats as a way to calculate how many people they hate have until recently tended to keep their communications in the shadows. One had to look for their articles. One needed to know that such hatred existed in order to know where to look for their articles and blog posts. Often, those web sites would turn out to be defunct by the time an amateur like me would look for them.

It was as if those who hate full-time knew that there was something impolite about what they felt, so they kept it behind a locked door and only opened it with a secret handshake.

That day is done. With his campaign for U.S. President and his election yesterday, it no longer matters whether or not Donald Trump himself holds these thoughts in his heart or not: some (many? all?) of his supporters do. I do not think it is all.
Read More

A Generous Dose of Hate

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you. You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”—Kathy Miller, former coordinator for the Donald Trump campaign in Mahoning County, Ohio, this week. She resigned upon being quoted and called her remarks “inappropriate.” (What aspect of the statement qualified it as “inappropriate,” she left a mystery.)

“Look at what’s happening in the world today. The blacks are getting uppity again. I don’t know why, but it’s scary again.”—a personal acquaintance of mine, explaining why he has started carrying a gun again here in Orange County, New York.

Two decades ago, I worked for a weekly newspaper. Even though it was a small-circulation publication, the fact that we ran a “Letters to the Editor” section meant that we received letters. Lots and lots of letters. Our editorial policy was simple: no profanity or personal abuse.

I, a young assistant editor at the time, did not understand this simple policy, because the letters were often awful, hate-filled documents, even when they were free of profanity and free of personal abuse. My boss, the editor of the newspaper, explained that these individuals wanted their thoughts exposed, after all, and we were helping to expose them. “Let them show the world what it looks like,” was her reply to me concerning one letter’s ugly racism. “It is better when they (racists) are out in the open.” Absent profanity, I was not to edit, “clean up,” or not publish the letters.
Read More

Confessions of an Iowa Caucus Voter

The Iowa Caucus will be held Monday night. I was a caucus voter one presidential election, in 2004, so my experience that long-ago January night can perhaps illustrate what we will see unfold next week.

* * * *
Gephardt was down. He was not going to get a vote from our precinct. In the game of three-dimensional chess that is politics, I could see how this was going to be bad for my candidate. I needed to act. Gephardt needed a vote, because it would help my candidate, and that vote needed to not be me. I sprung into action …
Read More

The Embrace of Donald Trump’s Hate

This is Donald Trump’s America now. If Trump does not win the nomination, it no longer matters: He has moved the debate into an ugliness that gives cover to almost all bigotry.

* * * *
“I’m no racist, but I think the one bunch it’s okay to hate is those Muslims.”

I thought to myself, “Did I really just hear him say that?” I have replayed this moment in my mind every day in the six months since I heard the man, an acquaintance of mine, say this to me. Shocked into complacency, I did not speak up.

An elderly women was beside us. She is the sort of person who looks like the meanest thing she might say in her day is something like, “A dozen cookies! That’s too many! Have another.” She chimed in: “They believe in the devil. They lie when they say they pray to God.” Her eyes flared and she repeated herself. “They know it’s a lie, and they do it anyway.” I excused myself, shocked into a mortified silence, which was an inexcusable silence.

Others were nearby, and no one spoke up. I asked a couple people later about what they heard the man say, and each of them expressed surprise but offered some variation of the excuse, “I guess he needed to get that off his chest.”

This is Donald Trump’s America. My first-hand report. These voters may not have the opportunity to vote for Trump for President of the United States next November, as he may not win the Republican nomination, but whomever they vote for next year is being shown the blueprint detailing how to win their support. With his status as the front-runner for the Republican nomination and his open espousal of complete racism, his promises of policies of brutality towards American citizens of one religion, Donald Trump has moved the debate into a region where less ugly racism, less obvious brutality, appears acceptable, becomes accepted. It will still be brutal racism. The moment has arrived when we can not shrug it off and say to ourselves, “I guess he needed to get that off his chest.”
Read More

Protest Is Not Polite

Oh, the media is ridiculing Jennicet Gutiérrez, an activist and protester that President Obama shushed during an event last night. That is, if and when they bother to use her name or discuss things like issues.

Few are reporting what Ms. Gutiérrez was speaking about. That must change. I will try to do my part with this column. The issues she spoke about at the event deserve attention and, more important, action now. There is a community that is suffering terrible harm right now as I type this simply because its members are different and are seeking a new life in a new country that they hoped would be safer for them.

The President handled the protest that she launched into—alone, with no support from anyone—during a dinner last night at the White House in an almost tolerant/amusingly annoyed way, which is fine, I suppose, but not many are reporting what the event was: the White House was publicly hosting a Pride Month event, which is a sentence that I never thought that I would ever be able to type. This makes me happy.
Read More

Flipping and Flopping, Wishing and Washing

If you are interested in the horse-race nature of American politics, the drop-everything-every-four-years-so-we-can-fill-all-the-jobs-in-Washington-DC portion of our public life, you could do no worse than live in either New Hampshire or Iowa for the entire year before Election Day. This means that right now is a good time to move to Nashua, New Hampshire, or Des Moines, Iowa, if you are a politics addict.

The reasons for this are obscure and boring, unless you live in either state. In that case you might be passionate about your community’s role in selecting our next President. It might be the one thing you care about, and you might care about it more than the name of the person who will get your vote.
Read More