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Trump and Charlottesville

[ 142 ] August 12, 2017 |

I will have a longer piece about (inter alia) Trump’s grossly inadequate response to the Nazi rally in Virginia on Monday. In the meantime, I strongly recommend this piece by Jeff Isaac, which reminds us why Trump refused to condemn white nationalism:

What is happening today in Virginia is not due to “Trump,” and combating both right-wing extremism and underlying structures of racism, and also the structures of economic dislocation that generate a politics of resentment, requires much more than criticizing Trump.

AT THE SAME TIME, electoral politics matters, and executive politics matters, and these these are not mere “expressions” of underlying social and economic causes. Trump ran an extremist, right-wing populist and xenophobic campaign, against the political establishment in general. His campaign centered on mobilizing white racism and resentment and normalizing and legitimizing the so-called “alt right.” As President he has installed a set of powerful FAR-right figures–Breitbart, Flynn, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller, the crank who wrote the NSC memo–at the highest reaches of political power, many in the White House. He has actively attacked all establishment media in favor of Breitbart-style “truth.” He has regularly employed violent rhetoric about his opponents. He has invited violence against protestors and encouraged police violence against suspects. He has vilified Black Lives Matter. Trump has done all of this and more. And so David Duke is not “wrong” when he claims to be “true” to the Trump agenda. Because Duke, Spencer, and the rest, have been encouraged, mobilized, and normalized by Trump.

To that extent, it is impossible to understand, and to combat, what is happening right now in Charlottesville, Virginia without recognizing the danger that Trump and Trumpism poses to social justice and to liberal democracy.

Saying this is not “hysterical” or “tyrranophobic.” And it does not reduce everything to Trump, or insist that other dynamics and institutions are not also responsible. In my opinion saying this is a precondition of serious political analysis right now. There are other things worth saying too. But to avoid THIS is, I am afraid, mistaken.

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  • Any Republican who refuses to say the words “radical white nationalists” needs to thoroughly and relentlessly shamed and humilated.

    • aab84

      It’s actually kind of amazing how many Republicans are using that kind of language. Rubio, Huckabee, Gardner, Hatch, Flake, Sasse. Gardner called him out by name on it. That’s how far out there Trump is on this. He’s underperforming Marco fucking Rubio.

      • Yixing’s Fluffer

        With Rubio it’s not what he says today but whether he’s still saying it two days from now. (Not holding my breath.)

        Oh, and has anybody heard from Dave Brat lately?

        • ExpatJK

          I was surprised that even Cory fucking Gardner came out against this. Low bar, but he did clear it.

          • dave mustaine

            He’s gotta earn that Denver Post endorsement!

        • Joe Paulson

          Rubio has a thing where’s he’s very concerned but doesn’t really do anything much action-wise. Saw that early during confirmation hearings.

          ETA: Brat — https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DHDxCwdVoAA1nGp.jpg:large

          • He may be the emptiest suit in Congress, and that’s saying a lot. Naturally, he’s also one of my Senators because of course he is.

            • D. C. Sessions

              He shows up and votes as McConnell tells him to. He does his time on the phone banks trolling for donations.

              Seriously, what do you expect?

          • Yixing’s Fluffer

            That’s more than I expected.

      • D. C. Sessions

        Hatch. Orrin Hatch? SRSLY?

        • Jordan

          His brother died fighting nazis, so …

          • D. C. Sessions

            Orrin expletive Hatch seems to have had no trouble using appropriate language:

            We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.

            If Hatch, of all people, can muster the ‘E’ and ‘N’ words, what can be so hard? Trump’s staff managed to write a totally mealy mouthed statement on the subject and then the Leader of the Free World had to add the “many sides” qualifier because it was too harsh to the only people left who turn out for his rallies.

      • Joe Paulson
        • humanoidpanda

          Loathsome as his politics are, Hatch runs a very good Twitter page.

          • Hogan

            His comm director was out there last week after Hatch said the GOP had “shot their wad” on health care and wouldn’t be revisiting it. Apparently “to shoot one’s wad” has recently acquired connotations that Hatch wasn’t aware of, and the comm director explained that during the Civil War, “when Hatch was a young senator,” the expression referred to misfiring muskets. It was a fun discussion to read.

            As an example of self-deprecating Republican humor, it should probably be in the Smithsonian, so that people know such things are possible.

            • I’m afraid I shot my wad on what was supposed to be a dry run, if you will, so I’m afraid I have something of a mess on my hands.

              • DocAmazing

                Its sounds like you have the matter well in hand–you have it beat, as it were.

              • Hogan

                Nothing wrong with that . . .

              • humanoidpanda

                You call it sausage in the mouth, governor.

                • Hypersphericalcow

                  Tobias Fünke in drag: “Would you like a banger in the mouth?”

                • We just call it a sausage.

              • Rawr

                Awesome – was just watching that episode today!

            • Unemployed_Northeastern

              -Never mind; reading the bottom of your post renders my comment superfluous-

            • SpiderDan

              I didn’t know about that the earlier meaning of the term! Learn something new every day.

            • I like that.

    • Yixing’s Fluffer

      white supremacist terrorism

      Alt-rightosphere is full of memes promoting the use of vehicular homicide as a means of settling debates. You couldn’t distinguish it from Daesh propaganda if you tried.

      • Hogan

        “It’s the only language they we understand!”

      • twbb

        Glenn Reynolds jurisprudence.

      • (((realinterrobang)))

        It comes directly from Hamas. These nitwits can’t even innovate terrorism. So much for being the Great White Hopes.

    • My 88 year old grandma has to watch Nazis on tv parade down a local street and Trump’s response was that…

    • D. C. Sessions

      If you’ll pardon me:

      * To begin with “White nationalists” is a euphemism. Even “White supremacists” is sugar coating it, and we owe it to ourselves to not give them any more cover than that.

      * If the regressives want to demand that others say the magic phrase, “radical Islamic terrorism” then we should take their endorsement of “radical white terrorism” and run with it.

    • ExpatJK

      I agree. They also need to go beyond this and show serious resistance to Trump. Saying “radical white nationalists are bad” while then helping to pass any legislation on behalf of their enabler means relatively little in the scheme of things.

    • brad

      Don't worry. If they miss this chance there's always next time.
      *head falls to desk*

  • Hogan

    Both links point to Paul’s post.

    Also, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Trump has had Breitbart’s corpse stuffed and mounted in the White House lobby a la Lenin and Bentham (probably in the Teutonic Knight pose), but I’m pretty sure Isaac meant “Bannon.”

    • Joe Paulson

      [link fixed]

      ETA: “In his spare time, Isaac is a gigging jazz and blues pianist. His band, the Postmodern Jazz Quartet, has been a mainstay of the Bloomington music scene for over a decade.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMMuThv4-sA

    • Scott Lemieux

      Fixorated!

  • WaltWhitmanSampler

    This, but with the statue of the “Traitor Lee”, please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTodK24KG6E

    • humanoidpanda

      I don’t know how to embed this, but I’ve found this awesome thing today:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHKjOl9ocR0

      (I’d like to think that Pavlichenko is rolling in her grave over Putin bankrolling various fascists, but knowing how older Russians think, I can safely surmise she’d be a strong supporter..)

      • humanoidpanda

        What do you know, you just need to copy and paste! Technology is grand.

        • Hogan

          Don’t let Loomis hear you say that.

          • humanoidpanda

            Wait till he hears that one of my favorite meals is scrambled eggs doused with ketchup.

            • D. C. Sessions

              Only if it’s chipotle ketchup.

            • Unemployed_Northeastern

              And by ketchup you mean Skyline Chili.

      • Hogan

        That is indeed an awesome thing.

        • WaltWhitmanSampler

          Well, now…there were many many sides to the Siege of Stalingrad…

          • wjts

            It’s true. Everybody always forgets the Romanians and the Croatians.

    • BiloSagdiyev
  • Joe Paulson

    https://twitter.com/SteveKornacki/status/896459048882765826 [thread regarding Trump first going after Buchanan’s racist vision — when he was a rival for the Reform Party ticket in 2000 — and later reaching out to apologize]

    • Joe Paulson

      In 1992, Buchanan’s culture war speech was seen as a poison pill for the Republican Party. How we have advanced on that front in 25 years.

      • ExpatJK

        Everyone’s sipping the poison now!

        • Hogan

          Some are quaffing it.

      • I think semi-respectable versions of it have been developed to the point that someone like Dreher can straddle the two, and pull the respectable toward at least pandering to the Buchanan people. Twenty-five years is a long time.

      • mattmcirvin

        The whole 2016 Republican convention was basically Buchanan’s culture war speech on repeat.

    • Bitter Scribe

      I wonder who wrote that for Trump.

  • Oppen

    Only 5 posts about Charlottesville today?

    C’mon – we need more smoking hot takes.

    • Nazis killing people in the streets

      ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • Yep, I wasn’t sure what the deal with this idiot was, but that’s definitely worth a block.

      • Oppen

        Yes, I can’t help but think that if only there had been more posts last night and early this morning that this whole tragedy could have been avoided.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          so what *should* people be talking about?

          • ExpatJK

            Don’t feed the troll…

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              (shrugs) I sometimes like to know *exactly* why I’m going to block someone- but since oppo is just a driveby… okay

        • wjts

          Since more posts wouldn’t have prevented it, fewer posts will stop it from happening again. That’s logic, that is.

          • D. C. Sessions

            Homeopathic comments?

        • Uncle_Ebeneezer

          Here’s a big bowl of Go-F-Yourself! Bon Apetite!

    • brad

      I think you just covered it.

    • MariedeGournay
    • OliversArmy

      The world would be a better place without you in it.

      How is that for a “smoking hot take” you bag of shit.

    • BiloSagdiyev
  • moeman

    11/22/2015: “Maybe [that protestor] should have been roughed up.”

    2/1/2016: “Knock the crap out of [the protester], would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”

    2/22/2016: “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

    3/4/2016: “Get [the protestor] out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry.”

    3/9/2016: “In the good old days, this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat [protestors] very, very rough. And when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily.”

    3/11/2016: “Part of the problem, and part of the reason it takes so long [to take protesters out of rallies], is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?”

    • Terok Nor

      But what about when Obama said (something that wasn’t remotely similar)?

      • N__B

        What about Obama wearing a tan suit? That was violent!

        • mattmcirvin

          Remember when he put his feet up on the desk?

          • N__B

            I still have the vapors from that horror.

        • MikeG

          Remember Fux Noise hyperventilating when he took off his suit coat in the Oval Office?

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        I had to be taken to the fainting couch when I learned that Obama asked for Dijon mustard at around this point in his presidency.

  • hellslittlestangel

    I suppose we should be grateful he didn’t predict that Charlottesville tourism would increase tenfold.

    What a fucking disgrace to this country Trump is.

    • Hogan

      Yeah, the mrs. just read me that. 25th amendment, anyone?

    • The first thing Google News served up to me begins: “Reports are coming in that a state police helicopter patrolling the race riots in Charlottesville” and I want to SCREAM.

      • I really, really hope it’s just mechanical and everyone’s okay. I hate so, so much that I can’t just assume that.

        • I didn’t get past “race riots” to any details of the crash. But I doubt that the source, given that phrasing, is worth shit when it comes to facts.

        • JSC2397

          Sorry, nope: It was a VA State Police copter, and two dead (presumably VSP personnel) are reported.

      • mattmcirvin

        Well, “race riot” is traditionally the term we use to describe things like a squadron of biplanes dropping incendiary bombs on the black district of Tulsa, so maybe it’s apropos.

        • Hypersphericalcow

          Yeah, the original “race riots” were white people burning down black neighborhoods, but that connotation has been almost completely lost.

      • N__B

        I’d be okay with the media calling it a “white race riot.” Obviously not what you got served by the goog.

    • A helicopter is 10,000 parts moving rapidly around an oil leak, waiting for metal fatigue.

      There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a helicopter very quickly.

      • M Lister

        There is a fairly infamous California case where two news helicopters following a high-speed chase crashed, killing the people inside. (I believe they crashed into each other.) The driver of the car fleeing the cops was charged with murder, on the grounds that this was a “foreseeable” outcome of his fleeing the police. It’s an outrageous charge, of course, but in this case, I’d not be too sorry to see similar charges brought, even if there was no conviction in the end.

  • forgotmyaccountlol

    Can’t wait to read from the same people who applaud Trump’s blusterous nuclear threats to North Korea to turn around and praise his half hearted statements and cowardly attempts to avoid having to explicitly condemn neo-nazis as being “responsible”.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Jeff Isaac is clearly arguing against that wrong-headed op-ed by Samuel Moyn in the NY Times earlier this week. I wish Isaac had said so explicitly.

    • Joe Paulson

      The “tyrranophobic” bit seems most blatant, looking over the article you reference.

    • So do I.

      Tyrannophobia is, it’s true, a favorite of populists (see American readings of Julius Caesar), as well as of those who seem to assume everyone knows by “tyranny” they mean “taxes”, and should arguably be considered suspicious on those grounds, but the op-ed seemed poorly timed and unwisely aimed.

      • Hogan

        At the very least, a mention of John Wilkes Booth would not have been amiss,

        • DocAmazing

          Sick tempered Tyrannosaurus rex, or something.

          • farin

            Still a better choice for president.

      • gmack

        Interestingly, Thomas Hobbes also warned against “tyrannophobia,” which he argued arises when young men read too much Roman history and think that it’s a good idea to stand up and fight for liberty.

    • humanoidpanda

      Moyn is one of the academics who are genuinely so brilliant that when commenting on relatively simple topics like contemporary politics, they can’t resist the urge to problematize issues to the point they dissolve into an abstractions soup.

      • Origami Isopod

        That’s not brilliance. That’s poor communication.

  • D Sidhe

    That picture is like something out of a horror movie, even with the slightly absurd tiki torches.

    • DocAmazing

      Nuremburg follies.

    • mattmcirvin

      Their crazed-Klansman torches are literally suburban yard ornaments. There’s something too perfect about it.

      • I was going to say its very David Lynch-ish, but it’s just plain lynch-ish

      • BiloSagdiyev

        New rule: no American fascist can shout, “Blood and soil!” if they do not actually own farmland. If they should really be shouting “Blood and condo association fees!”, we should hold them accountable on that.

  • The Wet One

    Pretty sure Trump’s response is perfectly adequate for his supporters.

  • Steve LaBonne

    It's all good, he condemned the violence "on many sides".

  • It looks like the have they’ve released details on the piece of shit who rammed his car into the crowd. No one in congress should stand for it if the JD doesn’t bring federal hate crimes charges.

    http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/year-old-woman-killed-when-car-plowed-into-crowd-near/article_ef4ba358-7f6a-11e7-84cf-8f840f442510.html

    That was the block that my favorite book store is on. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Sickening.

  • Joe Paulson

    Republicans are out in force denouncing.

    https://twitter.com/yashar/status/896460667284271104

    • Hypersphericalcow

      What’s on that plaque? I’m assuming it’s only slightly less racist than the GIGANTIC confederate flag behind them.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Oh, I can see that inset on that plaque is a small reproduction of a painting of the “oh, the good old days! sentimental scenes of Confederate soldiers and generals” type that are still being cranked out in the South. Blech.

    • Technocrat

      I honestly wish people would stop calling them out on their hypocrisy and just take the fuckin win for tonight. All hands on deck against this bullshit.

      • Joe Paulson

        They enabled and continue to enable (especially with their support of Trump) the bullshit. I’m glad they have a floor of acceptance which is unclear regarding their putative party leader but to combat this bullshit, got to realize they are part of the problem. So, sorry, your wish won’t be granted here.

        • Technocrat

          I’m not telling you what to do, you’re a grown man.

          I stated a preference, which I stand by. I’m well aware of how we got to this point. But this current manifestation needs to be roundly and universally denounced, and I think it’s foolish to attack anyone in the process of denouncing it.

          The time for recrimination will come.

          • Joe Paulson

            I didn’t say you were telling me what to do — you spoke of a wish and I said why it was not granted here.

            I stand by my remarks too. I said before that I understand how important it is for people (including Sen. McConnell) to have a floor of acceptability and to defend it when it is breached. A few people reminding people sometimes they helped is not going to stop them.

            When will this time for recrimination come? There is every day racist acts occurring. They might not be as horrible as this but nothing to handwave as minor. It is a continual thing for people who are part of the problem to speak out against the most blatant things. This includes when they at this very moment are also supporting people like Trump who give aid and comfort. It is part of the b.s.

            Anyway, it’s human. When someone is continually bad but has a moment of good, the person might be upset when they are reminded of the bad. But, they earned it, and if they can’t handle it, their help is a tad too slight to matter enough.

  • In a press conference, the Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, said the crash was premeditated.

    http://heavy.com/news/2017/08/james-alex-fields-jr-charlottesville-suspect-arrested-driver-crashed-rally-republican-age-bio-video/

    it’s on, motherfuckers.

    • Technocrat

      I was amazed to see that even Rubio called it terrorism. It’s a start.

    • Supposedly Cruz is calling for domestic terrorism charges.

      • Technocrat

        That moment when you realize you’re proud of Ted Cruz

        ::stumbles around aimlessly::

        • Fighting nazis makes strange bedfellows, ask Churchill and Stalin.

          I’m calling Kaine and Warner’s offices Monday, if no federal hate crimes charges come from this, they need to get the ball moving on impeaching Sessions, immediately.

          • Technocrat

            Fighting nazis makes strange bedfellows

            Truth.

          • Unemployed_Northeastern

            Current AG is recused from Russia investigation. A new AG would not be…

  • Technocrat

    On the TV news just now the lede was ‘White Supremacists doing battle with police”. Also mentioned the guy that plowed into the crowd. No “both sides” shit. Excellent.

    • I watched the NBC evening news for the first time in years tonight. They did an excellent job. Complete with Trump walking away and ignoring shouted questions about white nationalism–which the anchors pouted out, along with alt-right in MAGA hats with Nazi flags.

      • Technocrat

        You know, I just realized – this is the first time since the election I’ve been pleasantly surprised with America. It’s like a tiny part of a huge weight lifted.

        • If there’s good to be salvaged, perhaps this will serve as a contemporary “Battle of Cable Street”

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cable_Street

        • FMguru

          People literally racing to the airports to protest and block Trump’s first effort at at travel ban was pretty heartening.

        • I need to find a coffee just so I can take a sip to do a spittake, they’ve already opened the hate crime investigation:

          “In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.

          Sessions says, “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.”

          He adds, “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.””
          !

          • Wojciech

            If a prosecution comes out of this, then good.

            All the same, the cynic in me thinks that Sessions himself is more a White Citizens’ Council kind of guy than a Grand Dragon type. The Citizens’ Councils let the Klan do the dirty work, but still thought them declasse.

            Sessions aspires to be a genteel bigot like Richard Russell, not a crude buffoon like Theodore Bilbo.

            • Interesting, I just read the chapter on Russell in Caro’s Master of the Senate.

              While obviously a genteel bigot, he was apparently very bellicose towards the Nazis early on and consistently throughout. Fingers crossed the Nazi hating overcomes the KKK loving element of the racist Southern Gentleman.

            • farin

              “I like white supremacists that don’t get arrested.”

  • Yestobesure

    I think that we need to start demanding Trump use the phrase “radical white supremacism”

  • david spikes

    Trump’s statement was a new low-a terrible speaker, making a terrible speech, an idiot,really just an idiot.
    But, but, but. . . . . . . Cillizza condemning both siderism, without a shred of self awareness. I know we should welcome every ally no matter how dubious, but fuck him.

  • weirdnoise

    Josh Marshall:

    Through today I’ve heard various politicians, journalists and public people asking Trump some version of, “Why can’t you denounce this?”
    We’ve been here for … what? Almost two years? I understand the impulse. But at a certain point, we’re simply being chumps to keep asking. We know. If we don’t, we should. I’m tempted to say we have no excuse. There’s not. But there is some explanation. We have become as a people, or at least our establishment voices, like family members in the home of an abuser, unable to face the obvious reality of our situation because it is in the nature of living with an abuser that it warps your reality.

    • weirdnoise

      Josh, aside from creating Trump’s Razor (in explaining any action of Trump or his people, the stupidest rationale is the correct one), was the first person I read who explained Trump’s behavior as nearly always a dominance game. This was well before the debates, and when I saw how Trump stalked Hillary around the stage the abuser vibe was so strong as to be too painful to watch, even with the sound turned off.

  • e.a.foster

    if one wonders what is wrong with the U.S.A. just have a look at the picture of these angry white people. they all look like something out of a cheap zombie movie with torches. OMG. what is wrong with these people. No wonder Trump got elected.
    Canada is currently receiving approx. 250 Haitian refugees from the U.S.A. If this type of scene continues in the U.S.A. I would suggest we will be having a lot more refugee applications and it won’t be Haitians living in the U.S.A. those white people look down right scary. Hasn’t anyone told them the civil war is over and the south lost. Its the 21st century and I never thought I’d see pictures like this again. Reminds me of the pictures I saw during the 1950s and 60s. Guess the Americans haven’t come so far after all.

  • dave mustaine

    My wife put it well: “if Trump condemns the white nationalists, his 35% [or whatever] approval rating drops into the single digits.”