Trump bootlicker and publisher of American Greatness Christopher Buskirk was given 800 words on America’s most prominent editorial page yesterday to sanitize support for Trump as being the fault of Democrats who slandered poor Brett Kavanaugh.
The Times did this on the very weekend that Trump was explicitly calling for political violence to be meted out to his opponents if they don’t stop criticizing him:
“What scares the crap out of me is that, when you’re saying ‘enemy of the people, enemy of the people,’ … what happens if all of a sudden someone gets shot, somebody shoots one of these reporters?” Vandehei pleads. Trump replies, “It is my only form of fighting back.”
Watch the entire exchange, and take note of what Trump does not say here. The easiest answer Trump could give would be to deflect the concern as overblown. But at no point does he reassure the palpably frightened Vandehei that he is not inciting violence, and that his supporters understand that they should refrain from radical acts. Instead Trump lets the threat hang in the air, and justifies it as his only weapon against the slanders against him.
This intent was even more clearly visible last Friday, when Trump parried a reporter’s question about whether he was instigating violence. “You know what, you’re creating violence by your question. You are creating. You,” Trump insisted. “The fake news is creating violence … I’ll tell you what, if the media would write correctly and write accurately and write fairly, you’d have a lot less violence in the country.”
There is very little ambiguity about his point. Trump is warning the media that its critical coverage is provoking violence. His proposed remedy is not a cessation of violence but instead a cessation of critical coverage. Reporters seem to think that Trump will tone down by rhetoric if he can be made to understand that it is goading his supporters to violence.
It’s not that he doesn’t understand. Trump understands the connection between incitement and response perfectly well. It’s not even that he doesn’t care. Trump calculates that the threat of bombs and bullets will force reporters to bend the knee. This is what he means by “fighting back.”
Trump’s intentions were even clearer at a rally Saturday night:
At a weekend rally, President Trump launched a riff that, even by the feverish standards of his closing campaign argument, stands out for its brutal authoritarian overtones. The president mocked Antifa demonstrators: “You see these little arms, these little arms,” he shouted, forming his fingers into tiny circles to illustrate their puny biceps. And then he invited his supporters to imagine these weaklings having to fight against Trump’s own militant cadres. “Where are the Bikers for Trump? Where are the police? Where are the military? Where are — ICE? Where are the border patrol? No,” he continued, lamenting the restraint his sentries have displayed, “we’ve taken a lot, we’ve taken a lot.”
This is unambiguously fascist rhetoric. These words were spoken immediately after three mass murders were committed by right wingers against perceived enemies of Trump’s white nationalist state, while another Trump supporter attempted to assassinate two ex-presidents, along with other anti-Trump political figures.
Why does the New York Times, which, like the rest of the mainstream media, has been identified by Trump as an “enemy of the people” (again, this is unambiguously fascist rhetoric in its most classic form) continue to treat Trump and Trump supporters as something other than a fascist authoritarian and his collaborators and enablers?
My guess is that the people who run the New York Times are incapable, psychologically speaking, of coming to terms with what is actually happening in this country. I recall once seeing a sign at a military base that read:
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs
Then maybe you don’t understand the situation
And yes, it’s of course true that as several commenters noted this morning, the Republican party has been trending toward the potential for being taken over by a fascist demagogue for decades now. But there is a great difference between the potential rise of a fascist demagogue and that potential being realized.
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each did a great deal of damage to this country, but they were not fascists, nor was the party that they led a fascist party. John McCain was the most overrated politician in modern American history, but he was very far from a fascist (although he cozied up to a proto-fascist figure in the ludicrous form of Sarah Palin). Mitt Romney is a detestable fellow, but he too is not a fascist. ETA: It would be more accurate to say that he was not a fascist before Trump took over the Republican party. At this point Romney, like everyone else in the Republican establishment, is an enabler of fascism, in the form of Donald Trump. Whether you want to call a fascist enabler a fascist is essentially a semantic point, although as I argued this morning, doing so under these circumstances is well warranted.
All these men are or were conservatives, which means they are inclined to work with fascists if the alternative is losing money or power. But again, being soft on fascism is not the same as fascism.
Donald Trump has crossed the Rubicon, and he’s taken the Republican party with him. When will institutions like the New York Times come to terms with this unfortunate state of affairs? My guess is that will happen at around the same time that these institutions come to terms with their own role in bringing this state of affairs into being.