Donald Trump, American hustler: The Frightening Fascist Tendencies of his GOP Rise

Previous right-wing leaders had a healthy fear of the rage they unleashed from their base. Not this one

By Rick Perlstein

Washington Spectator

Oct 7, 2015 – Donald Trump is not a fascist––probably.

His ex-wife Ivana once claimed he kept a volume of Hitler’s collected speeches in a cabinet by his bed, and read from time to time the fuhrer’s vision of human life as a pitiless war of all against all. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” he told Vanity Fair in 1990. But consider something the architect of Trump Tower, Der Scutt, once said on how to evaluate the truth value of Donald Trump claims: “divide by two, then divide by four, and you’re closer to the answer.”

Trump worships armed force, pronouncing at a rally in August in Derry, New Hampshire: “I believe in the military and military strength more strongly than anybody running by a factor of a billion.” (Applying Scutt’s formula, that means Trump believes in military strength 125,000,000 times more than Lindsey Graham, who opened his presidential campaign with a promise to go to war with Iran.)

When Trump speaks in the subjunctive mood, he can certainly sound like an aspiring dictator. Regarding a $2.5 billion plant Ford intends to build in Mexico, he announced that “every car, every truck, and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax—O.K.?” The Constitution, of course, grants Congress, not a president, the power to tax. Maybe it’s just ignorance on his part. Or maybe, by “we” he’s referring to the Congressional coalition he’s building in his spare time between stadium rallies. But if Trump has ever made reference to any understanding of the three coequal branches that govern the United States, I haven’t noticed it.

He refers lustily to his passion to destroy the malcontents stabbing America in the back, longing for the days when they received summary executions: “So we get a traitor like Bergdahl, a dirty rotten traitor [pause for applause], who by the way when he deserted, six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him, right? . . . You know, in the old days:bing, bong.” (Trump pantomimed cocking a rifle.) “When we were strong, when we were strong.”

Too much to expect procedural niceties—innocent until proven guilty?—from the guy who in 1989 took out full-page ads in four New York newspapers, headlined: “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” There followed a 600-word essay: “What has happened is the complete breakdown of life as we know it. . . . How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS.” It went on to relate a tale from some mystically perfect past, where he witnessed “two young bullies cursing and threatening a very frightened waitress. Two cops rushed in, lifted up the thugs and threw them out the door, warning them never to cause trouble again. I miss the feeling of security New York’s finest once gave the citizens of this City.”

The ad was Trump’s response to the arrest of five kids for the vicious rape and beating of a jogger in Central Park. The kids were coerced into confessions, later proven to be false, by the same police force Donald Trump insisted had been intimidated into politically correct timorousness. Last year, after the five families settled for $41 million in compensation for the years the accused youths spent in prison, Trump published an op-ed calling the settlement “ridiculous.”

“These men do not exactly have the pasts of angels,” he claimed. At the time of the event, one of “these men” was 14 years old.

A demagoguery so pure

Trump has now provided more “specifics” about his immigration plan: a forced population transfer greater than any attempted in history, greater than the French and Spanish expulsions of the Jews in 1308 and 1492; greater than the Nabka of approximately 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from British-mandate Palestine; greater than the 1.5 million Stalin consigned to Siberia and the Central Asian republics; greater than Pol Pot’s exile of 2.5 million city-dwellers to the Cambodian countryside, or the scattering of Turkey’s Assyrian Christians, which the scholar Mordechai Zaken says numbers in the millions and required 180 years to complete.  Trump has promised to move 12 million Mexicans in under two years––“so fast your head will spin.”

Only then will he start building the wall.

But all Republican politicians say stuff like this, right? They all want a wall, they all want to bury criminals under the jail, they all crave war, even if they’re not quite so explicit about it.

Not quite, actually. Previous Republican leaders were sufficiently frightened by the daemonic anger that energized their constituencies that they avoided surrendering to it completely, even for political advantage. Think of Barry Goldwater, who was so frightened of the racists supporting him that he told Lyndon Johnson he’d drop out of the race if they started making race riots a campaign issue. And Ronald Reagan refusing to back a 1978 ballot initiative to fire gay schoolteachers in California, at a time vigilantes were hunting down gays in the street. Think of George W. Bush guiding Congress toward a comprehensive immigration bill (akin to that proposed by President Obama) until the onslaught of vitriol that talk-radio hosts directed at Republican members of Congress forced him to quit. Think of George W. Bush’s repeated references to Islam as a “religion of peace.”

Trumpism is different. Donald Trump is the first Republican presidential front-runner to venture a demagogy so pure. (Continued)

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Our Neo-Confederacy

Jalaluddin Abdul Hamid shouts, ‘Take it down!’ in response to a pro-Confederate-flag demonstration outside the South Carolina State House on June 27. (Lexey Swall / Getty Images)

The flag may be wiped from state grounds and license plates, but its ideals live on in the GOP agenda

BY Salim Muwakkil
In These Times

July 8, 2015 – The modern Republican Party—with its voter suppression schemes, states’ rights fetish, and steep cuts to government jobs and services that most benefit black communities—has absorbed the Confederate message.

It is an irony that the symbol of the old Confederacy has become the most prominent victim of the June 17 massacre in Charleston, S.C., rather than the three men and six women who were slaughtered at church.

After photos surfaced of the shooter posing with the flag, a bipartisan chorus of politicians, including at least a dozen Southern Republicans, denounced the flag’s display on state grounds and license plates.

Though the Stars and Bars served as the battle flag for the Confederate Army, it only became a totem of the South in opposition to the integrationist push of the 1950s and 1960s, when it was adopted by the Dixiecrats—Southern Democrats repelled by their party’s embrace of civil rights.

Those disgruntled white Democrats were aggressively recruited by the GOP through Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which was exceedingly successful in transforming the Dixiecrat South into Republican central. Alienated Republican Michael Lofgen, a former staff member of the House and Senate Budget Committee, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in 2013 that the GOP has become, in the past few decades, “an insurrectionist, neo-Confederate party.” Or, as Paul Krugman put it in a June 22 column, “Race made Reaganism possible.”

Some see the Tea Party as the latest manifestation of the GOP’s neo-Confederate march. Law professor Ian Haney Lopez, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, argues that the Tea Party’s appeal has much to do with its coded racist messaging. The modern Republican Party—with its voter suppression schemes, states’ rights fetish, and steep cuts to government jobs and services that most benefit black communities—has absorbed the Confederate message. Its platform is in line with the principles espoused by neo-Confederate white separatist groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens, which donated $25,000 to GOP candidates in the last election cycle.

There is little doubt that the ascension of the first black president has contributed to this neo-Confederate boomlet. Obama’s election exacerbated anxiety among America’s white majority about the demographic changes that will, according to the U.S. Census, render it a minority in the next three decades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg poll, most Americans believe black-white “race relations” have worsened since Obama’s election. In its official statement responding to the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted that racist hate groups are on the rise. The Charleston shooting was “an obvious hate crime by someone who feels threatened by our country’s changing demographics and the increasing prominence of African Americans in public life,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. The most prominent example is the presence of a black man in the White House.

Every week, it seems we’re presented with new evidence (often videotaped) of ongoing racial turmoil in Obama’s America, incidents so egregious they’ve sparked national protests and given birth to the Black Lives Matter movement. (continued)

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Guns, Settlers & Race

Black Panthers made headlines.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Z Communications Daily Commentary

A front page story in the Washington Post struck me. [David A. Fahrenthold, “GOP field backs gun rights with both barrels,” March 29, 2015]  As one would expect, the potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are jumping all over themselves to show how ‘pro-gun’ they are.

In the USA we have discussions about guns that pretend to be based in history, but actually miss certain key features. In so doing, the heart and soul of the gun debate is overlooked and the issue devolves into questions of morality and gun safety.

The gun issue in the USA is related to history but not particularly to the 2nd Amendment (the supposed right to bear arms). The debate precedes the 2nd Amendment by more than a century and it revolves around settlers and race.

The gun debate in the USA started in the 1600s and, while there were always matters of safety and hunting, the key question was actually one of who had the right and authority to possess weapons. The second question centered on why the centrality of weapon possession at all.

The settlement of North America, and specifically the original thirteen colonies, was not a non-violent act.  It represented an invasion.  There immediately arose the question of the protection of the invaders, i.e., the colonists.  Thus, weapons, at all costs, had to be kept out of the hands of the indigenous population—the Native Americans or First Nations.  Severe penalties were created for any settler who sold or traded weapons to the Native Americans. This notoriety made its way into the popular media over the years with stories about so-called mavericks who supplied Native Americans with weaponry. During much of the colonial era, and into the 19th century, by the way, this form of activity was frequently associated in the minds of much of the white public with Irish dissidents who were in opposition to the British colonization of Ireland.

Weaponry was also essential for handling an ‘internal’ problem within the emerging settler state:  indentured servants and slaves.  The 1600s was a period of regular uprisings carried out by indentured servants and slaves.  The indentured servant workforce was originally composed of Africans, Europeans and some Native Americans.  It was the turmoil during this period that drove the colonial ruling elite to identify the need to splinter the workforce in order to retain power.  In that context arose the modern usage of “race,” based largely upon the successful experience of the British in the occupation and suppression of the indigenous population in Ireland. (Continued)

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