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FEVERED FRINGE: Trump cynically and successfully tapping into "expanding discourse of hate"

Christoph Niemann / The New Yorker
Plumbing Trump’s psyche is as productive as asking American Pharoah why he runs. The point is what happens when he does.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The sickening stench of race hatred coming from the Republican Party over the issue of immigration is truly appalling.

With Donald Trump and Jeb Bush bashing each other over their insulting references to “anchor babies,” the clown show – led by Trump – marches on. (Oh, and Jeb meant those "Asian anchor babies." Not the ones from Latin America. Once a Bush, always a Bush).

But don’t think that my reference to a “clown show” is meant to be taken in a lighthearted fashion. It is really quite serious and good people need to stand up to the belligerent bullying of Trump and his ilk.

Trump, ever the bombastic showman and con artist, with his talk of Hispanic “anchor babies” and Mexican rapists, is sadly tapping into the “fear and frustration” out there in the cities and in the hinterlands, particularly as the economy stalls out. Fear of illegal immigration. Fear of being “overrun” by “the other.”

And the white nationalist and racist groups are rejoicing because Trump is echoing what they have been saying for years. As the eye-opening new New Yorker article “The Fearful and The Frustrated” noted this week, a neo-Nazi website has already endorsed Trump for president, saying Trump gives white men a chance to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

And Buzzfeed reports that former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a self-described "racial realist," David Duke, gave Trump a ringing endoresement, saying Trump "understands the real sentiment of America."

Trump, notes The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, is tapping into crude nationalism and a neo-Know-Nothingism that is, sadly, gaining a certain appeal among a swath of America (note the Mobile visit last week). David Duke is saying Trump is "the best of the lot" in the Republican field and a lot of Americans are agreeing.

And that includes gun-toting, border-protecting Minutemen, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists and outright racist neo-Nazis who see something of themselves in the Queens, New York-bred billionaire, as Osnos reports in his piece that is the equivalent of turning over a rock to see what lies beneath. One man interviewed in this New Yorker article had already met with members of Greece's fascist Golden Dawn party.

Writes Osnos: “When Trump leaped to the head of the Republican field, he delivered the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe, elevating fantasies from the message boards and campgrounds to the center stage of American life. In doing so, he pulled America into a current that is coursing through other Western democracies—Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Scandinavia—where xenophobic, nationalist parties have emerged since the 2008 economic crisis to besiege middle-ground politicians. In country after country, voters beset by inequality and scarcity have reached past the sober promises of the center-left and the center-right to the spectre of a transcendent solution, no matter how cruel. ‘The more complicated the problem, the simpler the demands become,’ Samuel Popkin, a political scientist at the University of California in San Diego, told me. ‘When people get frustrated and irritated, they want to cut the Gordian knot.’”

Seeing this thuggish plutocrat eject Univision journalist Jorge Ramos from a press conference in Iowa was truly grotesque. As Ramos later said, the use of force – having Trump’s goons throw him out – to “suppress freedom of expression,” is quite worrying and bad for democracy.

Ramos said he wanted to ask Trump some hard questions about immigration. Sadly, reading comments on conservative and allegedly-Constitution-supporting websites, revealed an army of commenters denouncing Ramos and praising Trump’s bullying.

With each passing day, as Trump appears daily on our screens like “Dear Leader” in authoritarian dictatorships, his reach grows, particularly among those who are likely disengaged from politics entirely and are aware of Trump through his status as an uber-wealthy celebrity and host of The Apprentice.

Watching his televised campaign speech in Iowa was quite interesting. He tells the audience that the "red light" of the cameras are on because the networks want ratings and the networks don't care about you, good people and members of the growing Trump army.

And when Trump tells his army that "Mexican rapists," "border jumpers" and "illegals" are taking the jobs of good Americans, that sort of rhetoric is bound to have devastating consequences, as this piece "Donald Trump has blood on his hands (and so do we)," posted at The Good Men Project notes, regarding a hate crime perpetrated by two white men against a homeless Hispanic man in Boston.

"Scott and Steve Leader urinated on a man's face while he was sleeping, punched him repeatedly, and beat him with a metal pole. As they did so, they proclaimed that 'Donald Trump is right and all these illegals need to be deported."

Trump lamely Tweeted how "terrible" the Boston attack was, this after saying how "passionate" people are wanting their country back. I suppose in Trump's mind, if it takes a little old-fashioned violence to get his message across, so be it.

So, it is uplifting to see Pope Francis, who is visiting the United States in September, defend the dignity and humanity of migrants and refugees fleeing war, poverty and repression in their home countries. The refugee situation around the world has reached epic levels, rivalling that of the upheaval witnessed during World War II.

The Pope had wanted to cross the U.S. border coming from Mexico on foot to show solidarity with immigrants, but time wouldn't allow it during his trip to America in September where he will address the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.

Still, the fact that Francis wanted to do this says a lot about him as a person who takes Christ's message seriously, as opposed to demagogues and fearmongers who hate the Pope's example and would rather instill hatred and hopelessness in people. "You will know them by their fruits," it says in the Book of Matthew. Something to consider as things get uglier by the day, particularly as odious Trumpism spreads like a virus through America.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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