Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, May 28, 2018 7:32 pm

Some stuff matters more than manners


A couple of days ago I had a conversation on Facebook with a relative of mine and a friend of his whom I didn’t know. It looks as if my relative has taken the thread down now, so I’m going from (potentially flawed) memory here, but it had to do with civil political discourse. In particular, the friend, whom I’ll call Al because that’s easy to type, argued that Trump supporters and Trump opponents should discuss their differences civilly.

I said then what I’ve said many times before here and in many other forums: I’m not interested in civil discussions with racists. Donald Trump is an unreconstructed racist. He ran on an unapologetically racist platform and was elected by racist people acting on their racism; the research, ranging from polls to focus groups, has been pretty much unanimous on that score. Accordingly, I believe that if you voted for Trump, you’re a racist, or you’re indifferent to his racism, which amounts to the same thing. Al, for his part, called people who can’t discuss politics civilly “immature.”

Well.

Those of you who know me know that I think that pleas for civility in political discourse are often the last refuge of people who desperately need to be hit with the chair. Sure, I think we ought to be able to discuss political differences civilly. But some things are more important than polite dialogue. Like racism. And torture. And genocide. And Nazism. And these things cannot be reasoned with, for they seek to overthrow the very rule of reason. They can only be defeated.

Al’s remark betrayed both a political naivete and a high level of privilege. While he wants to have civil discussions about Trump’s neo-Nazism, Trump’s minions are working to build a fascist government, separating children from their parents at our borders, perhaps never to see one another again, in some cases only because the families have committed the legal act of seeking political asylum in the United States. Moreover, in areas ranging from environmentalism to health care, Trump’s actions are literally putting thousands of American and other lives in jeopardy while people like Al insist that the real problem is the maturity level of Trump’s critics.

Here is what people like Al (and my relative, who, to be fair is a dedicated, decorated public-school teacher who’s usually way more sensible than this) need to understand.

In 1930s Germany, the Nazis used the tools of a free state against a free state. They used freedom of their own expression to destroy freedom of expression for others. They used the ballot to ultimately deny the ballot to others. And Trump and his minions are walking the same path today, using the same techniques, and pulling the same wool over the same people’s eyes, that the Nazis did 85 years ago.

About that: As it happens, being on vacation last week, I read a novel, Brandenburg Gate, by the English writer Henry Scott. It’s a spy novel set just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The protagonist, Rosenharte (whose father had been a high-ranking SS officer during World War II), and his girlfriend, both former employees of the East German secret state police, the Stasi, have met an elderly German man, Flammensbeck, who served on the Eastern Front with the Nazis during World War II. Rosenharte asks Flammensbeck whether he thinks the current demonstrators against the East German government have legitimate grievances.

Flammensbeck blew out his cheeks and exhaled. He seemed to be weighing something. Eventually he addressed them both. ‘By the spring of 1945, I was in a prisoner of war camp in the East — we didn’t know where. I was lucky to be alive because they shot many of us when we surrendered. Then one day in April it was announced that the Fűhrer had committed suicide. We were stunned, but after a bit we fell to asking each other what it had all been about. So much death and destruction. Millions dead. And each one of us with innocent blood on our hands. What was it all about? No one could say. Then one in our group answered that it was about nothing. There was no point to it, no hidden meaning. Nothing! We’d been had.’

And with Trump, here we are again fighting Nazism. Think I’m wrong? Think there’s no comparison between the Trump administration and the Nazi regime? Grapple, then, with this 1996 7-page paper, “The 8 Stages of Genocide,” by Gregory H. Stanton, the James Farmer Professor of Human Rights at The University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia; president of Genocide Watch; chairman of The International Campaign to End Genocide; director of The Cambodian Genocide Project; and vice president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. A guy who knows from genocide, in other words.

He posits eight stages of genocide: classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination, and denial. The administration is unquestionably engaging in classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, and polarization of certain minorities. And with Trump’s decision to order ICE and the Justice Department to separate children from their parents at our borders, even when those families have come to request political asylum as the law allows, we arguably have entered the stage of preparation as well.

Wake up, people. Extermination and denial are all that are left.

Given those circumstances, Al and his ilk, and my relative for that matter, are going to have to forgive me for not wanting to reason with Trumpists. This country spent 425,000 lives and untold billions of dollars defeating fascism in World War II. That argument was supposed to have been done, just as our argument about slavery was supposed to have been done after the Civil War. And given the decades I have spent researching World War II and Nazism in particular, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be lectured to by a political virgin about my political maturity in the context of crimes against humanity. Indeed, Al had better wake the hell up before he finds himself either up against the wall or wearing a swastika himself.

 

Advertisements

13 Comments

  1. I agree entirely. I have but one question. How did Donald Trump change this country from a democracy to a Fascist nation just short of committing genocide in less than 2 years? A process that historically has taken decades in other, always smaller nations with weaker Constitutions, and fewer checks and balances.

    Could it be that under Barack Obama, George Bush, and even Bill Clinton we were already headed in that direction? Just a kinder, gentler form of Fascism but Fascism just the same?

    Comment by Billy Jones — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:19 am @ 10:19 am

    • Good question, Billy. My own theory, subject to amendment if new information surfaces, is that the GOP has been headed this way at least since 1964 and that the Dems have done little to stop it, particularly back during the Bush 43 administration when it would have mattered. Trump is the natural, predictable and predicted result of 50+ years of GOP messaging.

      Comment by Lex — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:29 am @ 10:29 am

      • I can’t argue that and can’t help but believe that we were headed there anyway. Maybe just not so quickly as we are now.

        Comment by Billy Jones — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 11:32 am @ 11:32 am

  2. I think you can have open, reasoned discussions about how best to tackle climate change. You can’t have such discussions about whether it exists.

    You can have open, reasoned discussions about the best way to integrate immigrants into society. You can’t have such discussions about what ICE is doing today.

    You can have open, reasoned discussions about what the media do well and what they do not do well. You can’t have such discussions about whether Donald Trump is a professional liar, far exceeding the standards of even the most duplicitous of his predecessors.

    I think American government and society have effective bulwarks against outright fascism. But I think a lot of things happening now ain’t a whole lot better.

    Comment by BD — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 11:48 am @ 11:48 am

  3. One cannot hold a civil discussion with anyone who denies the humanity of the person they’re talking to. It’s simply not possible, and I for one, absolutely refuse to indulge such beings in a discussion of whether or not I’m human, or deserve basic human respect.

    People, like your friend, are horribly naive if they think they can reason with the unreasonable. He’s also horribly privileged because such discussions about the humanity of others is something that will never directly impact his life. I should never be required to argue my humanity to another human being.

    Comment by lkeke35 — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 4:47 pm @ 4:47 pm

  4. Listen , the sky is not falling and the brown shirts are not literally around the corner. Really this post is TDS on full display.

    Victor Davis Hanson gives us, below, a calmer and more reasoned analysis of the Trump phenomena .

    Trump creates hysteria, both rabid antipathies and fervent support.

    “General chaos surrounds President Trump. Few dispute that. All argue over the origins, causes, and nature of these wild reactions to our president.

    Take the Left’s loathing of Trump that arises from three sources.

    First, Trump supposedly has no shame. The traditional leftist use of invectives such as “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” and “nativist” appears to have had little effect on Trump — as it seems to have done on McCain (who in 2008 ruled out attacks on Obama’s personal pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright) and Romney (who passed on standing down debate moderator and rank partisan Candy Crowley).

    More likely, smearing Trump only energizes him to become even more combative and uncouth. In the past, when a progressive tagged a Republican politician as some sort of irredeemable or deplorable bigot, he often inched left in search of penance or to preempt further attacks.

    In the past, when a progressive tagged a Republican politician as some sort of irredeemable or deplorable bigot, he often inched left.

    Trump seems to enjoy the tumult, on the strange principle that only fire can tamp down the bias and unprofessionalism of a mostly pampered and overrated media. Does he do so by diminishing the aura and grandeur of the presidency, at least as the office is traditionally defined? Maybe, but half the country is likely to think “How dare the media smear the president?” rather than “How dare the president of these United States stoop to reply in kind to petty CNN reporters?”

    Second, of course, Trump is politically dangerous to progressivism. In military terms, he is a strategic B-52 on a deep mission. Trump targets the enemy’s homeland, even as his opponents’ far-flung and attenuated expeditionary armies bog down abroad.

    The Obama era gave us the conventional banality that “demography is destiny.” A supposedly 67 percent so-called white population would inevitably shrink into electoral insignificance, gnashing its teeth in its “white privilege” irrelevance.

    All who declared themselves nonwhite (to the extent that is still possible in a racially mixed, intermarried, often assimilated and integrated America) would grow in number. And they would purportedly vote in accordance with their perceived appearances and tribal affiliations. That calculus would inevitably mean that states such as Georgia and Arizona would soon follow the paradigm of California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico: They’d flip blue.

    Democrats accordingly pushed open borders and identity politics to ensure such an electoral utopia. But Trump overflew them and start bombing Democratic strongholds to the rear in more important swing states: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    By emphasizing class more than race, Trumpism itself was a potentially more dynamic idea than proportional representation on the basis of superficial appearance. When a Latino landscaper, poor white machinist, or inner-city African-American clerk considers voting for Trump (if as much for cultural or protest reasons as from empathy for his person or approval of his message), he subverts some of the basis of the present progressive party — a pyramid of enlightened elites at the top adjudicating what is necessary for a broad foundation at the bottom, made up of nonwhites and the supposedly dependent poor. It does not take much of a defection of minority and poor voters to weaken the progressive project, when the percentages of white and working-class voters alienated from it are so large.

    Equally explosive is the syndrome in which middle-class moderates and independents are tired of being damned as privileged and biased, on the basis of their appearance — often by those who enjoy far more privilege and exhibit far more bias. For all the hype that the stereotypical Trump voter was uneducated and without a degree, Trump appealed as much to the college educated and professionals for what he at least was not, rather than for what he was.

    Third, Trump earns leftist disdain for being the anti-Obama, much as conservatives feared Obama for being the anti-Reagan. In other words, just as a charismatic Obama sought to overturn the entire Reagan revolution of low taxes, deregulation, smaller government, and strong defense by the sheer force of his person, so too Trump really does threaten to undo Obama’s foreign policy, and energy, tax, regulatory, and education agendas.”

    There you have it. Settle down and when Trump is in the twilight of his second term you can relax and judge whether or not he and his policies made America great again.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 6:48 pm @ 6:48 pm

    • We’re going to have to agree to disagree, Fred. It isn’t just Democrats saying this stuff anymore.

      Comment by Lex — Tuesday, May 29, 2018 7:08 pm @ 7:08 pm

  5. Lex said ” It isn’t just Democrats saying this stuff anymore.”

    Oh yeah, so who else has gone around the bend on Trump and his ” Fascism ” and ” Racism ” besides the Democrat operatives with bylines . I said who ?? Maybe Maxine Waters . Who else ? the floor is yours.

    BTW here is my two cents worth

    And , could you have a civil conversation with MLK’s niece Alveda King ?

    Watch.

    Cheers

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 12:51 am @ 12:51 am

    • Michael Gerson, David Frum and Steve Schmidt, to name only three. Meanwhile, if you’re offering Greenwood’s hackneyed tripe as an argument, let’s explore that. Are you implying that anyone critical of Trump doesn’t love this country? Hardly. Quite the contrary: WE love this country, and Trump and his supporters like you are destroying everything good that it has ever stood for.

      Comment by Lex — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:20 am @ 7:20 am

  6. Noted that you didn’t address my question about Alveda King.

    I and the 63 million of your fellow citzens who voted for Trump are racists and destroying everything good that this country has ever stood for. OMG that is rich. Lame gaslighting. LOL… not working. What exactly have we destroyed ? A bill of particulars please.

    Michaela Angela Davis on CNN this morning was spewing some of the same hate about us deplorables . Here watch:

    From News Busters:

    “Most of the people who appear on CNN are, unsurprisingly, liberals. However, every so often, a guest veers so far to the left that even the hosts are surprised by what that person says.

    That was the case on CNN’s Wednesday morning show New Day, when Michaela Angela Davis responded to a question posed by new co-host John Berman. He asked if Roseanne Barr “felt empowered” by President Donald Trump to make the racist remarks that led to the cancellation of her ABC sitcom.

    “Absolutely,” the culture critic responded before going so far as to claim that everyone who voted for the Republican during the 2016 presidential campaign is a racist.

    Berman’s question seemed reasonable enough for someone on CNN, as he continued:

    The argument that some people are making, that Roseanne Barr maybe felt empowered to talk like this because of President Trump….I mean, look, she’s got a history of saying things like this completely on her own that have gone back before this administration. How do you counter that with the “rapid-ish” response from ABC?

    “Well,” Davis replied, “they made a connection together….when Trump…touted her ratings, almost took credit for them” as the president and the comedian “made their relationship clear.”

    The guest then claimed that the Republican occupant of the White House “made it more popular, I think, to be openly racist.”

    As if that wasn’t liberal enough, she added: “I think it’s important that we don’t make Trump seem this untouchable thing, you know, that no one gets to be Trump but Trump. Tens of millions of people voted for him after he showed his cards for years.”

    Obviously caught off guard by the comment, Berman gave the guest a chance to walk back her remark: “But are you suggesting that they’re racist?” Davis nevertheless replied: “Absolutely, yes.”

    “All of the people that voted for Donald Trump are racist?” the co-host asked again.

    “Yes,” she stated. “They may not all be violently racist,” but Trump is “very clear and strategic” in his use of the “anti-blackness” that “has been the foundation” of his political life.

    “We have to grapple with the idea that…you heard someone at their rallies say ‘Build the wall and kill them all.’”

    “Listen,” fellow co-host Alisyn Camerota interrupted, “you know that people interpret this differently, and to paint with as broad a brush as you are, saying that everybody who voted for him is racist, you know how people operate.”

    “They’ll compartmentalize, and they’ll say that people had compartmentalized during Bill Clinton,” Camerota added, “and you overlook the things that you’re uncomfortable with because you like the policy, so you can’t paint with that broad a brush.”

    Davis still refused to back down, asserting: “Racism isn’t broad, so what you’re not hearing is there’s so many different levels of racism and how it works itself out.”

    As NewsBusters previously reported, this isn’t the first time Davis startled her CNN hosts. In September of 2016, the Black Lives Matter sympathizer responded on CNN to the fatal shooting by police officers in North Carolina of an armed black man by bemoaning white “brutality” and defending violent protesters as “burning down the plantation.”

    When choosing people to be guests or panelists on CNN, the network usually makes safe selections of people who are fellow travelers on the left side of the road. However, it is certainly refreshing when one of those visitors forces the hosts to walk back something even they can’t deny is too liberal for the viewers of that cable channel.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:54 pm @ 6:54 pm

    • You chickenshit. You didn’t even have the balls to tell me in ’16 you voted for Trump. You told me you voted for McMullen. What’s the matter, Fred? Aren’t you proud of your “Murka Hail Yeah” racism, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness? Don’t you want to shout it in the streets?

      Comment by Lex — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 8:53 pm @ 8:53 pm

  7. Lex, WTF are you talking about ? Have you lost it ? I refer you to your post of Monday, September 12, 2016 6:32 am

    “The normalization of Donald Trump”

    You asked me who I voted for. I left no doubt , so please stop it.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, May 31, 2018 4:13 pm @ 4:13 pm

    • We had a subsequent telephone conversation or email exchange in which you said you had voted for McMullen. In any event, your choice is duly noted.

      Comment by Lex — Thursday, May 31, 2018 4:27 pm @ 4:27 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: