Tuesday, November 24, 2015

They Thought They Were Free



Chuck Todd, host of America's preeminent public policy and politics program, "Meet the Press":
Donald Trump — the post-truth 2016 candidate

We've been around the political block long enough to know that almost all presidential candidates exaggerate, dissemble, take statements out of context and, yes, lie. But from the start of Donald Trump's presidential campaign (remember Mexican rapists?), he has taken this to a level we haven't seen before in American politics...
There's no consequence for them to say anything that they want to. They can make things up, they can go out and say flat out untruths and nobody's challenging them...
Tom Brokaw: famous teevee person, dean of NBC network news and, ironically, the revered, rose-colored-glasses chronicler of America's battle against fascism during World War II:
...And Donald Trump says that he saw in Jersey City thousands of people cheering when the Twin Trade Towers came down, it's completely wrong. It did not happen. He did not see it. But who's there to challenge him on that?
Keep in mind the systemic, paralyzing cowardice of our professional media as as you read an excerpt from "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45" by Milton Mayer:
..It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair...
Solving the problem of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism could begin tomorrow by simply laying down some fairly drastic and material consequences for anyone in the media who 1) refuses to report the blindingly obvious facts of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism, or 2) obsessively seeks to deflect any such analysis with an army of bullshit Both Siderist straw men.  

From the NYT:
...
Mr. Trump relies on social media to spread his views. This is convenient because there’s no need to respond to questions about his fabrications. That makes it imperative that other forms of media challenge him.

Instead, as Mr. Trump stays at the top of the Republican field, it’s become a full-time job just running down falsehoods like the phony crime statistics he tweeted, which came from a white supremacist group.

Yet Mr. Trump is regularly rewarded with free TV time, where he talks right over anyone challenging him, and doubles down when called out on his lies.

This isn’t about shutting off Mr. Trump’s bullhorn. His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it. History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.
But the problem is not Trump.  The problem is the GOP base -- those millions of American bigots and imbeciles which the Right has spent many years and billions of dollars to flatter and pander and shape into an electoral battering ram which is now so reliably paranoid, angry, Dunning-Kruger ignorant and programmable that they can be told what to think, what to buy and who to vote for by Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes or Donald Trump.

The problem is the GOP base -- America's very own, home-grown army of rage-drunk, half-mad chumps who are so fucked-in-the-head they can be profitably harvested by the same liars telling the same lies over and over again endlessly.  Which is why the problem of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism -- which has been decades in the making -- will not begin to be solved tomorrow.

Or the next day.

Or the next.

Because in the grown-up world. when the question is "Why?", nine times out of ten the answer is "Money".  And there is just way too much damn money to be made by Very Serious People from compromising and compromising and compromising with American fascists until, too late, they are compromised beyond repair.


11 comments:

bowtiejack said...

Nailed it, drifty.
This seems the place for one of my favorite quotes:

"As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?
Alexis de Tocqueville

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

I know who I want on the other side of the table from that magnificent bastard Putin, and it is NOT that blowhard inheritance baby Trump.

Trump is a posturing schoolyard bully who pretends to be a tough SOB.

Putin is a tough SOB.

Vlad probably looks at The Donald and thinks, "I've broken better men than you."

Drifty picked the right Axis dictator to use for photoshopping. Trump, like Mussolini, would fail pathetically if he were the boss when an actual war came along.

Jimbo said...

Yes, Trump is just a showman without even the chops that Mussolini had, especially in the beginning of his regime when he actually did get the trains to run on time. But I would slightly qualify your analysis about the GOP's relationship with their Base. The GOP base voters, as we all know, are a core of Southern racists and pseudo-Nationalists (American exceptionalism and all the other garbage) plus a larger group of displaced workers and rural folks all over the US who are overwhelmingly older, poorly educated and white. (I specifically say base voters because there is a large body of white trailer trash that also is into the hate but which can't be bothered to vote for anything anytime.) The GOP and their moneybags didn't so much create this group as they did enable it, give it a forum (hate radio) and a place to go for epistemic closure (i.e. Faux News and similar). The problem with enablers is that they do not actually control the end result and can get hurt or killed by the out-of-control monster they enable.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Jimbo's comment about the monster getting out of control reminds me of the German misruling class of the 1920s and early 1930s.

They thought they could use a street demagogue and his bully boys to get rid of those Commies for them, and then they'd put Li'l Mustache and his bully boys out to pasture and go back to rolling in their money and shouting "Wheeeee!" every so often.

How'd that work out for them?

Jimbo said...

Yes, Trump is just a showman without even the chops that Mussolini had, especially in the beginning of his regime when he actually did get the trains to run on time. But I would slightly qualify your analysis about the GOP's relationship with their Base. The GOP base voters, as we all know, are a core of Southern racists and pseudo-Nationalists (American exceptionalism and all the other garbage) plus a larger group of displaced workers and rural folks all over the US who are overwhelmingly older, poorly educated and white. (I specifically say base voters because there is a large body of white trailer trash that also is into the hate but which can't be bothered to vote for anything anytime.) The GOP and their moneybags didn't so much create this group as they did enable it, give it a forum (hate radio) and a place to go for epistemic closure (i.e. Faux News and similar). The problem with enablers is that they do not actually control the end result and can get hurt or killed by the out-of-control monster they enable.

Neo Tuxedo said...

I would've begun the Mayer quote earlier:

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might."


"That poor little frog."
-- Bongo, Life in Hell by Matt Groening

waldo said...

The blustering blancmange will be deflated by Bernie.

Retired Patriot said...

Drifty, thank you. This. This is it in a nutshell. I wonder if we will ever know when the water is too hot and it is time to jump?

RP

Retired Patriot said...

Drifty. Right. On. the. Head. Thank you.

RP

Unknown said...

The problem is Trump *and* the GOP base *and* the passive media *and* the campaign finance status quo, etc.

n1ck said...

And Trump's street goons will be, naturally, camoshirts with AR-15s slung across their chests.