It’s been a testing week for American civil liberties. On one tiny hand there’s the Fox News/Breitbart-loving ‘alt.right’ thugs, who are keen to bring their own Trump-style “fire and fury” down on progressives, liberals and that mysterious body the ‘alt-left’, and on the same hand there’s the ethno-nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis attacking people with impunity. Deaths have occurred, people have been attacked and injured, and yes, in the spirit of resistance (and balance) I dare say a minority on the side of the liberals enjoy a ruck as much as the next right-wing knucklehead (it’s probably unwise to punch a Nazi, but then it’s equally unwise to stand and do a Nazi salute and not expect a degree of reciprocity), but to equivocate like US president Donald Trump has done, making out that both sides were entirely in the wrong? Well, even those in his own party are shocked at what they’ve witnessed. In fact, even members of his own cabinet don’t know where to look as his car crash presidency heads towards a cliff.
Year Zero was 1955, when William F. Buckley Jr. started National Review, the small-circulation magazine whose aim, Buckley explained, was to “articulate a position on world affairs which a conservative candidate can adhere to without fear of intellectual embarrassment or political surrealism.” Buckley excommunicated the John Birch Society, anti-Semites and supporters of the hyperindividualist Ayn Rand, and his cohort fused the diverse schools of conservative thinking traditionalist philosophers, militant anti-Communists, libertarian economists into a coherent ideology, one that eventually came to dominate American politics. Read more from the NewYorkTimes/Magazine
It’s obvious why president Trump didn’t condemn the racists and white nationalists - they voted for him in large numbers. In fact they may have won it for him. It may be that he demurred in condemning the racists because they are about the only demographic left in America that still supports him. The sad thing is he was handed a perfect opportunity to give a strong leadership moment (even if only for appearances), yet it is so far beyond him to do anything of the sort. The REAL statue was only a pretext for the alt-right to organize in C-ville. These people know or care nothing of history, and why would a Nazi care about a Civil War general?
But it's not really about statues; they are just the most obvious flash points at this particular point in time. It's about two visions of America, white-supremacy on one side and liberal inclusiveness on the other. Trump represents the former, Sanders the latter. Some of America's billionaires like the Kochs for example, want to destroy the left to minimise government, and have been financing right wing groups for many years. Essentially their desire is to have no constraints on big business, eliminate welfare, cut government-driven medical insurance, cut wages and compensation payouts, and produce as much CO2 as they want while polluting the environment freely. If they have to use the far right for that then I think they will do it.
I think that everyone (everyone, except the far right) is slowly starting to understand what Trump meant by making America great again and draining the swamp. It's restoring white privilege and ridding government of the political establishment that's expressing shock over this, including his fellow Republicans. Trump didn't get elected in a vacuum, he hasn't changed his spots since becoming US President, he has remained uninformed, his vocabulary has not moved beyond that of the primary school playground as he continues plummeting to new depths. Great depths, these are very great depths.
But when he speaks to law enforcement officers, or at a scouts rally and his selected audience continue to show their approval. It is those Trump apologists that need to be condemned, because they voted for the president they wanted and they got the real deal - a racist, misogynist, ill-informed, narcissistic megalomaniac.
I think the Republicans finally have the president they deserve. They allowed him a free ride on the Republican Party ticket because he told them he was Republican and that went largely unchallenged. When each psychotic Trump episode happens, Paul Ryan cracks the door open to his office and loudly proclaims to the media, "inappropriate, inappropriate!". Then he shuts the door and goes back into hibernation - until the next time. Had they any principles at all they would, and could, have denied him the Republican label. The future of the world is in the tiny hands of a crazed, corrupt, mendacious and fascist demagogue, yet Republicans can stop this. When will the US Senators and Congressmen and women finaly say enough is enough? The USA is not a Nazi country and should not have a neo-Nazi for a president, the same president whose behaviour is corrupt, arrogant, stupid, narcissistic, greedy, nepotistic, elitist, bombastic, incapable and contemptuous of ordinary Americans. For a perfect example of this look at the way he made devastating cuts to disabled people’s benefits (straight from the Iain Duncan Smith textbook).
In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence, not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent, has come from the fringes of the right. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project says that “if you go back to the 1960s, you see all kinds of left-wing terrorism, but since then it’s been exceedingly rare.” She notes that eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, but didn’t target people. Was Trump either wrong or misguided when he told his tale that the alt-left bore some responsibility for the terrible state of affairs in Charlottesville? Not only liberals but dozens of congressional Republicans managed, in the words of Cory Gardner, a senator from Colorado, to “call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
It was his predecessor's wife who said “being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are.” I always more than suspected that Donald Trump was a demagogue, and this appalling episode just exposes the depraved and nasty depths he will sink to. After a carefully drafted Whitehouse statement attacking the alt.right (so obviously written by others), which was clearly a damage-limitation exercise, he was back to his usual style at a Trump Tower press conference, ensuring he didn’t offend the racist, violent, and intolerant nasty pieces of work that make up a sizeable chunk of his supporters. On virtually every count Trump is unfit and unworthy to be president of the USA, and it is about time he was impeached. Because it seems to me that it’s either impeachment or cliff.
John Sweeney for Political Provocateur