I have a few rules that I maintain about my blog. I generally refrain from foul language because I want my posts to be comfortable reading for anyone who comes across them. I try to keep the subject matter positive, and when things get heavy I hope to offer at least some kind of warning up front. I avoid talking about the political sideshow because that’s outside my blogging purview, and in the last year I’ve tried to be more considered in deciding who I actually discussed when I do feel moved to write about current events.
So with that caveat, let me just say that there are words and there are feelings behind those words, and I don’t think this is going to be a comfortable post for reading.
Here we go.
Donald Trump is a fucking monster.
Back over the summer, when he announced his candidacy, I rolled my eyes like many progressives and chalked this bit of news up to the general zaniness that has been the Republican primary. There was no way this could turn into a serious campaign; it’d last a month or two and then Trump would get bored or ignored and we’d all move on to fretting over the other clowns who were supposed to be viewed as the “serious” candidates. Jon Stewart even celebrated when he heard, since he was about six weeks out from finishing his run on The Daily Show and he was happy to have a fountain of good material for his final stint before moving on:
Collectively we laughed, because really, who could take Trump seriously as a candidate? He was everything we’ve come to expect from Republican presidential candidates during primary season, only turned up to eleven because he had too much ego to ever consider that he could potentially cross a line. He was crude, alarmist, and generally asinine in all of his public appearances.
I mean, right out the gate, he started characterizing Mexican immigrants as drug dealers, rapists, and murderers. I saw rumblings from progressive corners saying that this was horrible, and it was feeding into the general anti-immigrant sentiment that had been insinuating its way into conservative politics for a couple years. We were disgusted, but again, we figured he’d be out of the race soon and then the discourse would go back to dog whistles and the veneer of respectability that coats any bigoted conversation about nonwhite people. Then some of his supporters beat up a homeless man for being Mexican while citing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric as their inspiration. He initially failed to condemn the attack for what it was, suggesting that the men were motivated by a passion to make “this country […] great again” (Trump walked things back on Twitter a couple days later in a rare instance of contrition when he said that he would never condone violence).
That incident was about two months after he announced his candidacy, and it was the first time that I thought he really had the potential to be dangerous, not at possibly becoming president, but at normalizing a kind of discourse that incites violence against people. He stopped being funny.
Trump slipped out of my general awareness for a couple months after that. I had work to worry about, and the whole mess with the Republican debates was just noise in my mind. I’m not going to vote for any of those clowns, no matter who gets the nomination, so I didn’t care to follow it.
Then last month Daesh orchestrated a terrorist attack on Paris.
That was a horrible event, and it had the entirely unfortunate side effect of creating a public fervor for some kind of response to Daesh’s terrorism. All the Republican candidates jumped on the bandwagon, declaring their vigorous opposition to any security threats to America, including of all things the possibility of a Daesh agent slipping in by way of the refugee relocation efforts that the UN has been coordinating since the civil war in Syria broke out five years ago. Trump actually came in ahead of everyone else, saying before the Paris attacks that he would send Syrian refugees to the US back if he were elected; afterwards he just escalated (presumably because his political strategy is to continuously top the other candidates by going more extreme in his ideation) by saying that he would create a database to track all Muslims in the US and shut down mosques where terrorist activity was suspected.
That was a bad week.
Then the shootings happened. In the space of a week there was the shooting at Planned Parenthood, conducted by a man who was apparently motivated by anti-choice rhetoric and whom many people were reluctant to label a terrorist because he happens to be white and Christian, and the shooting in San Bernardino, perpetrated by a Muslim couple who apparently were inspired by Daesh. The former incident is much more indicative of the kind of mass violence we experience regularly in America, but it’s being overshadowed by the latter, which checks the narrative boxes for the kind of acts we’ve been conditioned to associate with terrorism.
In the wake of San Bernardino, Trump has most recently said that he wants to ban all Muslims from entering America, including citizens who are currently abroad.
And that’s where we are now.
Here’s where I get angry, because this crap has been going on for six months, and we’ve been so busy laughing at Trump’s buffoonery that we didn’t notice him sidling up to fascist ideology as a way of staying interesting to Republican voters. Every step he’s taken has been calculated to elevate him above his competition in the primaries, and the end result has been a rapid shift towards extremism on the part of conservative politicians as everyone tries to keep themselves from becoming irrelevant. It is no longer hyperbolic to compare Trump’s ideas to those of Adolph Hitler, and that should scare the shit out of everyone, most especially because Trump continues to be a frontrunner among Republican voters. Whether he actually believes what he’s saying is irrelevant, because his supporters clearly do, and the shift in acceptable political rhetoric that signifies is a can of worms we probably won’t be able to close for decades.
Let me reiterate: Trump is a monster. His ideas are increasingly extreme and point towards an ideology that has no respect for the foundation of American government (any kind of government interference with a religious group based on their categorization as a religious group violates the First Amendment; everything Trump has said about Muslims in the last few weeks would be such a violation if enacted), and that, since most of the people who are so scared of Muslims claim to be Christians, violates Christ’s teachings about welcoming the alien and loving the neighbor. He is anti-American, and he is antichrist. There’s no ambiguity left in his platform. To support Trump is to explicitly support bigotry, xenophobia, and an unrelenting fear of everyone who isn’t a white Christian.
For further reading:
“Donald Trump Assumes That a Majority of Republican Voters Are Bigots” by Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. I don’t usually agree with Friedersdorf’s take on current events, but I think his assessment here is spot on.
“Where Will Trump Stop?” by Arsalan Iftikhar at The Atlantic.
“The Man Behind Donald Trump’s Latest Policy Platform Is a Crackpot Anti-Muslim Extremist” by Brendan O’Connor at Gawker.
“‘I’m Against the Muslims’: Trump’s Supporters and the Republican Divide” by Molly Ball at The Atlantic.
“Eight Things About Donald Trump” by John Scalzi at Whatever.
“Trump’s Rivals’ Condemnation Won’t Be What Weakens Him” by John Dickerson at Slate.
“Why We’re Stuck With Trump” by Jamelle Bouie at Slate.