October rambling: direct the whirlwind

Washington can’t be trusted

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The family trekked to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport ME the first weekend in October 2019. We got to pass through four states – NY, MA, NH, ME – in less than five hours. Twice in three days.

We went to a nice little museum, with a historical house. When it was in danger of closing in 2011, President George H.W. Bush offered to have some of his memorabilia be collected in one large room of the museum. This saved the day. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bushes, but this was a kind and decent offer.

djt

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Alexander Hamilton warned that a man “unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents… despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty” might “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'” from “Founders foresaw Trump nightmare,” USA Today.com, October 7, 2019

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Not news: the racist Twit-in-Chief

Racism is sin

Stern.August 2017.Trump
The cover of the German magazine Stern, August 2017
While I was away in a low-news mode, the story about the Twit-in-Chief attacking four progressive congresswomen of color broke. “Go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came” was the message. The crowd chanted “send her back” at the North Carolina pep rally, referring to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

He later disavowed the chants, though he had paused during the shouting, looking on for several seconds, appearing to show approval. The next day, he dubbed the chanters “patriots.” Sycophants such as Veep Mike Pence and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Oh, he’s NOT racist.” The truly dreadful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “on to something” with those attacks on four congresswomen.

You probably knew all this, but I’m just catching up.

It got me to wonder: what on earth does it take to label an action racist in America and to have it stick? Or is it just impossible? Perhaps, for Republicans, “xenophobia and nationalism are completely fine — just don’t call it racism.”

Mark Evanier linked to what he cheekily called “that bastion of Liberalism,” the National Review. “David French writes that when Donald Trump says something divisive and racist, Republican leaders will not so much as give an ‘ahem’ to express slight disapproval…

“There are many GOP leaders who, quite frankly, understand that they criticize even the president’s racist speech at their own peril. The grassroots have spoken. Loyalty to the president must be absolute, or one risks a primary challenge.”

The Weekly Sift guy attributes this process to his friend and former editor Tom Stites:
Trump makes blatantly racist statements. The responsible press and responsible leaders use racist in describing it. Trump’s confederate supporters think, See? All those elitists are calling me a racist! This pushes their victim buttons and turns their anger on the responsible press and leaders.
Then Trump repeats that he’s about the least racist person you’ll ever meet, and he calls the Squad racists who hate Israel and the U.S. Trump’s racist supporters feel vindicated by their hero.
More of the press becomes confident using the word racist. Trump turns up the volume a bit and repeats his pot-stirring trick. The confederates respond.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
He’s a twisted genius at manipulation.

He, his fans and defenders are wallowing in the language of hate crimes. There’s a scary undercurrent at every one of his rallies: “It is language with a very familiar ring: The language of community defense and purification, driving from the body politic any foreign—and therefore innately toxic—presence or influence.” But does it matter?

Like much of our language, ‘love it or leave it’ has a racist history. “it sort of conveys—particularly to people of color—that this is not our home… Historically, when people of color criticize America, they’ve been deemed un-American and unpatriotic, but when white people criticize America, it is normal.” And it takes an increasing psychological toll.

The hardly-liberal Foreign Policy magazine notes in America’s Road to Reputational Ruin: “The decline in U.S. soft power didn’t start with Trump, but he accelerated it… with his racist tweets.”

Yup, the mainstream media HAS been increasingly willing to at least acknowledge when an action is racist. For instance, Fox News’ Chris Wallace Burns Down Stephen Miller Over Trump’s Racist Lies. The CBS reporting repeatedly called his behavior racist, while NBC used that mamby-pamby “that many are calling racist.” (I taped them and am watching now.)

Congressman Elijah Cummings declared he is a racist — ‘No Doubt About It’. Former Vice-President Joe Biden compares him to segregationist George Wallace. In case I’ve been too oblique, yes, I’ve long believed the Twit-in-Chief is a racist. As Sojourners notes, “Racism isn’t a partisan issue. It is sin.”

The thing is, none of this behavior should be surprising, given his history. We CAN wonder, though, what it means to the future of the United States. Does his race-baiting evokes the Nuremberg rallies? Or should we not panic?

What do you think? I tend to lean towards ire/panic.