I shot these videos at today's Women's March in DC. At the latest count more than 500,000 people marched in DC -- double the number that attended the Trump inauguration -- and more than 1 million marched globally.
This from columnist Lindy West on why we stop at “alt-right” when we’re talking about ethnic-cleanser racial supremacists:
What does it take to call a Nazi a Nazi? In the interminable fortnight since the election of Donald Trump, the US press has been floundering in a gyre of panic over the internal taxonomy of racists.
For months, many (myself included) indulged Trump’s base in their euphemism of choice, the “alt-right”, an attempt to rebrand warmed-over Reconstruction-era white supremacy as a cool, new (and harmless!) internet fad. Despite the fact that Breitbart News (described by former honcho turned Trump adviser Stephen Bannon as “the platform for the alt-right”) had, at one point, a news tag labeled “black crime”, and was a driver of the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was a secret Kenyan Muslim, the press contorted itself into labyrinthine knots to avoid applying the word “racist” to Bannon or Trump in any committed way. (In our post-meaning world, being called a racist is nearly as grievous as being a racist.
Public outcry has prompted some hemming and hawing over the finer distinctions between “white nationalists” and “white supremacists”, the mainstream media not allowing either term to get too close to Trump himself, even as antisemitic, anti-black, anti-gay and Islamophobic hate crimes (not to mention KKK victory parades) continued to proliferate in his name. The website Boing Boing published a “White Supremacy Euphemism Generator for journalists”, explaining: “even when people pander to the idea Western culture’s wellbeing is inseparable from European ethnicity, they somehow avoid being called white nationalists or supremacists by journalists”. One hang-up seemed to be a lack of self-identification. If a person doesn’t consider himself a white supremacist, can he still be one? (Answer: OF COURSE.)
Finally, though, at Richard B Spencer’s closing speech at Saturday’s alt-right conference just a few blocks from the White House, it became undeniable what we’re dealing with here (at least among this particular sect of Trump’s true believers): it’s a bunch of straight-up neo-Nazis.
According to the New York Times, Spencer – who claims to have coined the term “alt-right” – “railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people … As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute.” The crowd joined Spencer in a cry of “Heil victory!”
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Richard Spencer: ‘railed against Jews and quoted Nazi propaganda.’ Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images
And yet, still, headlines were tentative. The New York Times gesticulated wildly toward Nazism without actually using the word (“Alt-Right Exults in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’”), and a CNN panel managed to avoid saying “Nazi” entirely, despite discussing a chyron that read, “Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people.”
But if declaring the superiority of the white race, quoting Nazi propaganda, calling for “peaceful ethnic cleansing”, and provoking Nazi salutes from his audience isn’t enough to qualify one as a neo-Nazi, then where on earth is the bar? What is the hesitation? And, given the close ties between the “alt-right” and Trump’s cabinet, how is the top story on every front page not some version of “NEO-NAZIS ATTEMPTING TO SEIZE CONTROL OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT”?
A reader, after seeing my post about Trump’s privileged hypocrisy over Mike Pence’s being booed at Hamilton, observed that she would have re-postedit on Facebook but my message was too angry.
As it happens, I wouldn’t have posted it on Facebook, either, because Facebook, unlike a blog or column, is a chat room intertwined with people’s personal lives. But her comment begs a larger question, which some of we progressives (especially we progressives of color) hear a lot, about our being “too angry” about our nation’s cruelties and injustices, including those of the ascension and incoming regime of Donald Trump.
So, for the record: Not being angry about Trump’s obscenity – and the 400 years of rich white straight male presumption to which it appeals – is a luxury that I do not have. Millions of we black and brown Americans, and disenfranchised white Americans, have been very angry for a long time, with good reason, and it is now long past time for those who have enjoyed a bubble of privileged “normalcy” (by race, gender, orientation, religion, or plain denial) to catch up with the larger reality. The new rich-take-all normal for an increasing swath of suffering white Americans is the old normal for many of the rest of us, and we will not wait to act while those who have been relatively sheltered from these centuries of abuse now fret over how angry they are willing to be.
If now, after all this, is not a time to be angry, what is? America flirts passionately with fascism, in a chilling parallel to the way in which the intelligentsia of 1930s Germany mocked the seemingly ludicrous appeal of the legally-elected Adolf Hitler, but anger would too greatly disturb the daily routines of those who wish it were not so? Imagine how it would sound today to have told fervent anti-fascists during the rise of the Third Reich, “You’re too angry in your opposition to Hitler! Your protests are too inflammatory for me to share them with my friends.”
At a certain point of extremist national change, previous “normal” standards for everyday conversation and political opinion no longer apply, whether those who have been relatively insulated care to acknowledge it or not. Being afraid to be angry about a modern norm of economic and human rights outrages, and clinging instead to mild-mannered Democratic Party business-as-usual prescriptions (Clinton’s “Stronger Together” platform never even came close to addressing the need and desire for deep economic and political change) at a time when many people's lives are falling apart, lost Hillary this election.
Anger – grounded in a righteous love of fairness and of building a better society for one another – is an appropriate and necessary response. Repressing or denying the anger is worse, both for the health of the country and for our personal well-being as people who hunger for better (and who often suffer and die for the privilege, whether through stress-induced illness or selective targeting by police and policy).
Some of us are forced to that recognition sooner than others.
...Donald Trump takes offense with a tweet demanding an apology.
So, just to make sure we understand: President-Elect Trump believes that he and his surrogates are entitled to call Mexican immigrants "rapists," to call women "pigs" and "dogs" who you can "grab by the pussy," to claim that President Obama was not born in the United States, to advocate banning Muslims from the country, to insult a military Gold Star family and their self-sacrificing son on religious grounds, to mock disabled people, to validate white supremacists, to encourage violence at his rallies, to call the former secretary of state and his presidential opponent a "nasty woman," and to sneer "they don't look like Indians to me" at Native Americans who challenge his casino interests.
But an audience at a smash musical that touts diversity is not entitled to voice its displeasure at such wanton racism, sexism, and hatred.
To paraphrase that paragon of principle MittRomney, this is a textbook example of white male bully delusion. It's an affliction of those taught to inherit the 400-year-old self-image of captor and master: they can dish it out but they can't take it.
Ex-slaveholder, ex-master of women, and ex-majority over brown people are all positions with no future. In today's world they are guaranteed dead-end jobs. And I do mean dead: in the sense of an aging and shrinking white male-dominated demographic that can feel itself shriveling nationally and globally. Within decades its majority in America will be gone, replaced by a thriving predominance of brown people and of white people who are comfortable with difference.
One recent example that will jerk your head back is the testimony, on the seminal radio chronicle This American Life, of economically screwed white Americans who bitterly report, with no sense of historical irony whatsoever, their shock at feeling "their" country and communities occupied by differently-colored newcomers from overseas. Uh, has anybody here looked beyond the white experience to see how their feeling of dispossession is neither unique nor accurate?
But that's the problem with defined whiteness: its world starts and ends with itself. Trump is part of its end, its desperate death throes, its final mythology. The only remaining question is whether the rainbow of humanity as a whole can survive this deadly fiction.
For soundly grounded perspective in the crazed months ahead, give yourself the benefit of Russian-American dissident-author-activist Masha Gessen’s practical advice on what is happening to we Americans at this moment. She knows what she’s talking about. Below is an excerpt from her November 10, 2016 New York Review of Books piece, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.” Read the entire piece, with its analyses of Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s profound misunderstandings of the Trump phenomenon, here.
…Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.
I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:
Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: “The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly” rather than those protesters’ “liver should have been spread all over the pavement.” Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one. For all the admiration Trump has expressed for Putin, the two men are very different; if anything, there is even more reason to listen to everything Trump has said. He has no political establishment into which to fold himself following the campaign, and therefore no reason to shed his campaign rhetoric. On the contrary: it is now the establishment that is rushing to accommodate him—from the president, who met with him at the White House on Thursday, to the leaders of the Republican Party, who are discarding their long-held scruples to embrace his radical positions.
He has received the support he needed to win, and the adulation he craves, precisely because of his outrageous threats. Trump rally crowds have chanted “Lock her up!” They, and he, meant every word. If Trump does not go after Hillary Clinton on his first day in office, if he instead focuses, as his acceptance speech indicated he might, on the unifying project of investing in infrastructure (which, not coincidentally, would provide an instant opportunity to reward his cronies and himself), it will be foolish to breathe a sigh of relief. Trump has made his plans clear, and he has made a compact with his voters to carry them out. These plans include not only dismantling legislation such as Obamacare but also doing away with judicial restraint—and, yes, punishing opponents.
To begin jailing his political opponents, or just one opponent, Trump will begin by trying to capture of the judicial system. Observers and even activists functioning in the normal-election mode are fixated on the Supreme Court as the site of the highest-risk impending Trump appointment. There is little doubt that Trump will appoint someone who will cause the Court to veer to the right; there is also the risk that it might be someone who will wreak havoc with the very culture of the high court. And since Trump plans to use the judicial system to carry out his political vendettas, his pick for attorney general will be no less important. Imagine former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie going after Hillary Clinton on orders from President Trump; quite aside from their approach to issues such as the Geneva Conventions, the use of police powers, criminal justice reforms, and other urgent concerns.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm. One of my favorite thinkers, the Jewish historian Simon Dubnow, breathed a sigh of relief in early October 1939: he had moved from Berlin to Latvia, and he wrote to his friends that he was certain that the tiny country wedged between two tyrannies would retain its sovereignty and Dubnow himself would be safe. Shortly after that, Latvia was occupied by the Soviets, then by the Germans, then by the Soviets again—but by that time Dubnow had been killed. Dubnow was well aware that he was living through a catastrophic period in history—it’s just that he thought he had managed to find a pocket of normality within it.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.
Of course, the United States has much stronger institutions than Germany did in the 1930s, or Russia does today. Both Clinton and Obama in their speeches stressed the importance and strength of these institutions. The problem, however, is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them—including the ones enshrined in law—depend on the good faith of all actors to fulfill their purpose and uphold the Constitution.
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.
The power of the investigative press—whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign—will grow weaker. The world will grow murkier. Even in the unlikely event that some mainstream media outlets decide to declare themselves in opposition to the current government, or even simply to report its abuses and failings, the president will get to frame many issues. Coverage, and thinking, will drift in a Trumpian direction, just as it did during the campaign—when, for example, the candidates argued, in essence, whether Muslim Americans bear collective responsibility for acts of terrorism or can redeem themselves by becoming the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement. Thus was xenophobia further normalized, paving the way for Trump to make good on his promises to track American Muslims and ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Rule #4: Be outraged. If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.
Despite losing the popular vote, Trump has secured as much power as any American leader in recent history. The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The country is at war abroad and has been in a state of mobilization for fifteen years. This means not only that Trump will be able to move fast but also that he will become accustomed to an unusually high level of political support. He will want to maintain and increase it—his ideal is the totalitarian-level popularity numbers of Vladimir Putin—and the way to achieve that is through mobilization. There will be more wars, abroad and at home.
Rule #5: Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz, who made the journey from calling Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar” to endorsing him in late September to praising his win as an “amazing victory for the American worker,” Republican politicians have fallen into line. Conservative pundits who broke ranks during the campaign will return to the fold. Democrats in Congress will begin to make the case for cooperation, for the sake of getting anything done—or at least, they will say, minimizing the damage. Nongovernmental organizations, many of which are reeling at the moment, faced with a transition period in which there is no opening for their input, will grasp at chances to work with the new administration. This will be fruitless—damage cannot be minimized, much less reversed, when mobilization is the goal—but worse, it will be soul-destroying. In an autocracy, politics as the art of the possible is in fact utterly amoral. Those who argue for cooperation will make the case, much as President Obama did in his speech, that cooperation is essential for the future. They will be willfully ignoring the corrupting touch of autocracy, from which the future must be protected.
Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.
- A corporate Republican Party that, since Nixon, has sold itself to any and every narrative that coaxes non-rich white people to attack brown people instead of turning on their own greedy white jailers.
- A corporate Democratic Party that, since losing to Reagan, has lost all will to challenge money and has thereby abandoned the economic populist field to any charlatan willing to yell, "The system is rigged."
- A media corps that made false equivalency (Clinton cites actual proof of a Trump lie = Trump yells that Clinton is a criminal) a long-term habit and now blinks in shock at the victory of an utterly dishonest and unqualified candidate.
- A dying white electorate willing to flush its own humanity down the crapper in order to feel even the most sorry excuse for power.
- Progressive voters and non-voters -- particularly whites insulated from the worst consequences of a Trump victory -- who thought they had the luxury of ignoring what fascism actually means.
After three debates and a hallucinatory succession of politically unsurvivable outrages, Donald Trump is still standing.
“Impossible” is a marker we blew past long ago. After a year of Trump’s gleefully insulting the economic intelligence of angry whites, spitting in the faces of people of color and women and Muslims, consorting with the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis, denying the continual catastrophe of climate change, pandering to the worst in foreign autocrats and domestic brown shirts, and magnifying at dizzying speed the reasons he cannot be trusted with house keys, let alone nuclear weapons, Trump has capped his wickedness with boasts (and 11 allegations so far) of sexual assault, “nasty woman” rasps at Hillary Clinton, and defiance of a popular vote before it even happens.
And yet, close to half of the electorate remains willing to vote him into the presidency. Pundits are aghast. Mainstream news outlets, for whom quote-without-question false equivalency has become a rote practice in reporting “both sides” of issues like politics and climate change, now dare to use the word “lie” to describe Trump’s fictional claims. Now, just days before the election, one can feel a rising mainstream hysteria on the airwaves, in print, and in overheard conversations: He will not die! How is this possible?
There is a very good reason, and it is one that corporate journalists and corporate-fed politicians continue to deny: America is broken, from the bone outward. And only Trump, an amoral opportunist, and Bernie Sanders, a progressive firebrand who the managers of corporate reason were unwilling to tolerate, have dared to mouth those words.
Let’s take the corporate journalists’ denial first. From The New York Times to CNN to NPR, until these final shell-shocked days the unspoken subtext of news stories has been, If we journalists simply put on display Trump’s daily outrageous claims, which are transparently untrue, citizens must surely see through them and reject them as antithetical to the truth and fairness of the American experiment. But this is a false assumption. Unlike prosperous national journalists who earnestly publish books and who vacation in inspiring places, the millions of white Americans who make up Trump’s base long ago gave up on any pretense of meritocracy in this country. They know that access to political office is bought with money. They know they are behind the eight ball on a slanted plane of play. They expect to be ceaselessly lied to. And they have learned well, at the punishing hands of global conglomerates and purchased politicians, that the only remaining game is a dirty one. Black and brown communities trapped in poverty, poor schools, and a pipeline to for-profit prisons? Too bad for them, and keep them away from us. Refugees fleeing the wreckage of a global post-neocolonial regime of cheap raw resources and wars of control? Wall them out. We have our own hell here. War-zone zealots whose remaining desperate sense of redemption is in wearing a bomb belt? Screw their reasons and don’t apologize for our methods. Bomb and torture them back to carbon. For uneducated white men – the core Trump electorate – the corporate media have been speaking Greek for decades.
Then there is the corporate political denial. As the longtime sole arbiter of what passes for progressivism in nationally “realistic” politics, the modern Democratic Party has – since the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Dems’ defensive descent into increasingly cruel corporatist platforms and policies (welfare reform, NAFTA, draconian sentencing laws, obscenely weakened oversight of banks, polluters, low-wage conglomerates and other public predators) – effectively erased the party’s credibility with suffering whites for whom the crumbs of white privilege have become starvation rations. Republicans have, since Nixon, peddled flavors of the “what’s good for rich people is good for white people” seduction. But today’s Democratic – and increasingly, Republican – Senator Silverhairs have become, to many whites amid the remaining shreds of a middle class, a bitter mockery of representation. Mainstream news correspondents may still dutifully repeat these professional politicians’ vacuous declarations as if they are newsworthy. But many ordinary working white Americans stopped listening years ago. It’s what Cornel West has accurately called the “niggerization” of American working people. We black folks and other people of color have borne it for centuries. Now, increasingly disenfranchised whites, feeling their own (decidedly race-softened but awful) version of the pain, are staging a political riot. (For a deeper understanding of how and why Trump profoundly appeals to white voters who are by far his moral superiors, go to The United States of Anxiety, a devastating podcast produced by The Nation and WNYC.)
That is why Trump can serially lie with impunity to his base about his disproven claims, boast about his evading taxes, contradict his nationalist rhetoric with his anti-American-worker hiring practices, and brag about sexually assaulting women – and still claim roars of approval from the very voters he betrays. This is neither nonsensical nor insane. It is a brutal, wicked consequence of corporate media and mainstream politics having abandoned the clear populist imperatives of our era. The error of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their humanistic side of the corporate establishment is that for the past eight years they have left the defiantly progressive field wide open for any takers. They left it vacant, in fact, until Sanders proved it had clout. (Have you wondered, as I have, what the campaign would now look like if it were Democratic Socialist Bernie bellowing back at fake-rebel Trump in the three presidential debates?) Trump, the consummate opportunist, has filled the white blue-collar populist void with his brutal audacity and dishonesty. It doesn’t take much to swim upstream when the flow is so feeble.
So Hillary Clinton – who embraced energetic progressive rhetoric only after Sanders proved it might win – is now our last barrier between a bad political landscape with footholds for progress and an abyss plunging into unknown depths of depravity, repression, and potential nuclear and ecological ruin. She was far from my first choice. But I am one of many who will vote for her with fierce resolve.
For those who have failed to call out betrayal of progressivism over its decades-long cooptation by corporate expediency, the old adage still applies: you break it, you buy it. That shattered mess on the floor is what is left of the myth of white meritocracy preached since World War Two. White people left behind by the corporate version of white privilege need somewhere else to go. Trump is a temporary refuge. He may or may not lose the election. But either way, the tide of betrayed collective white ego he has loosed is not retreating. That dam is busted, and the flood plain will extend far beyond Election Day.
We can blame Trump, an amateur fascist, for cashing in on this with his come-on to a beached white electorate. Or we can ask, What happens when the enraged hungers of disenfranchised white people start to merge with the centuries-old hungers of black and brown ex-slaves and the desperation of those who now flee global poverty and slaughter?
Bruce Springsteen on Friday cancelled an upcoming concert in North Carolina because of a controversial anti-LGBT law that critics say legalizes discrimination. Springsteen was scheduled to perform on Sunday in Greensboro, but said he was cancelling the show because he and the E Street Band “want to show solidarity for those freedom fighters” protesting the law. “To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress,” Springsteen said in a statement.
Take Springsteen's dead-on statement -- "it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress" -- and you can apply it to the mobs that ran amok after the emancipation of slaves, after the winning of suffrage for women, and after the legal end to racial desegregation. As well as those that still run amok over legalized (and perpetually threatened) abortion rights.
Now it's the anti-LGBT mob's turn to revolt against the reality of an advance in civilization -- and to prolong the everyday pummeling of LGBT people for as long as possible. The good news, such as it is in states like North Carolina, is that it appears neither industry nor fair-minded people of all sexual and gender orientations nor Springsteen fans will long tolerate the cost of bigots' temporary unconstitutional maneuverings. Nor can any breathing federal court judge before whom the law will soon appear.