Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Fascist Habit of Mind: Part Two

A wealthy and successful businessman who is laughably ignorant of pretty much everything outside of his one area of expertise (all quotes from "Power, Ignorance, and Anti-Semitism:  Henry Ford and His War on Jews"  by Jonathan R. Logsdon)
[Henry] Ford found himself in the press spotlight again in 1919, when a $1 million libel suit he had filed against the Chicago Tribune went to court. A June 23, 1916 editorial, entitled "Ford is an Anarchist," had characterized Ford as an "ignorant idealist," an "anarchist enemy of the nation," and as being "so incapable of thought that he cannot see the ignominy of his own performance." In Ford's defense, the article was based on a false report that Ford would not guarantee the jobs of workers who were called away for military operations. However; this did not prevent Ford from enduring one of the most embarrassing episodes of his career. When Ford took the stand, Tribune lawyer Elliott Stevenson took issue with his influence on the public. "You call yourself an educator;" he noted to Ford. "Now I shall inquire whether you were a well informed man, competent to educate people." Stevenson then launched into a series of questions which Ford's lawyer; Alfred Lucking, had been dreading: 
"Have there ever been any revolutions in this country?"
"There was, I understand."
'In 1812."
"Did you ever hear of Benedict Arnold?"
"I have heard the name."
"Who was he?"
"I have forgotten just who he is. He is a writer; I think."

Eventually, Ford was forced to admit to Stevenson that he was "ignorant about most things."...
Who nonetheless believes he can solve the international community's most vexing and dangerous crisis by dint of the sheer awesomeness of his personality: 
[Henry] Ford was enchanted with the idea [of a "Peace Ship"], and organized a group to book passage on a Scandinavian-American vessel, the Oscar II. Before he set sail, Ford granted an interview in which he proudly boasted, "We're going to stop the war... We're going to get the boys out of the trenches by Christmas." At the same time, however, Ford admitted that that he did not exactly know where the ship was going. Nor did Ford reveal any specific plans of the operation. 
The ship eventually docked in Oslo, Norway on December 18, 1915. No one greeted the ship in the freezing temperatures of -12. Ford gave his first, and only, press conference of the "campaign" four days later. It was a confusing speech in which Ford mainly talked about a new tractor he had on the market. He expressed his belief that it would be wiser for the munitions factories of Europe to produce tractors instead of weapons. One newsman sarcastically noted that Ford "must be a very great man indeed who permits himself to utter such foolishness." Ford then booked passage on the first steamer returning to New York and returned the next morning, weakened by a nasty cold. The ill-conceived Peace Ship venture, which accomplished nothing, soon ended in disaster and embarrassment.
Who transmutes his petulant, child-like views of the world and his deeply held bigotries into an ideological hammer by obsessively demonizing an ethic group who people had been primed to hate already...
 Eventually, his belief that the "International Jew" was the source of the world's problems led him to conduct a campaign against them in the pages of his newspaper; The Dearborn Independent. The articles in Ford's newspaper blamed the Jews for everything from the Bolshevik Revolution and the First World War to bootlegged liquor and cheap movies. They also accused the Jews of conspiring to enslave Christianity and destroy the "Anglo-Saxon" way of life.
And onto this group, the mogul unloads all of the problems of the world, from the largest...
"I know who caused the war-- the German-Jewish bankers. I have the evidence here," Ford declared, slapping his pocket. "Facts. I can't give them out yet because I haven't got them all. But I'll have them soon." the smallest:
An executive at the Ford Company was up late one night and decided to tide himself over with a candy bar. Ford walked up to the man, started some small talk, and took a bite of the man's snack. A look of dissatisfaction came over his face. "This stuff isn't as good as it used to be, is it?" The executive replied that he had not noticed any change. "The Jews have taken hold of it," Ford replied. "They're cheapening it to make more money out of it."
He also gathers his crackpot conspiracy theories into a book...
The articles were later gathered into book form and published under the title: The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem
... which is very popular among a certain class of angry, ignorant, bigots:
This book was translated into 16 languages, and was to have a profound influence upon the growing Nazi movement in Germany.
The candy bar story is my favorite (if that's the right word) because it so perfectly reflects the longstanding mindset of Crazy Uncle Liberty, Crazy Aunt AllCaps and the rest of the GOP Base. That great wad of useful idiots who automatically and continuously invent idiotic conspiracies in their own heads and then blame Obummer and Killery and the commie symp Libruls ... and before that blamed their imaginary persecutions on Nancy Pelosi and the commie symp Libruls ... and before that on Slick Willie Clinton and the commie symp Libruls.

It has been the basic psychological operating system of the GOP base for decades now, humming along as designed, upgraded constantly by Fox News and Hate Radio, getting battier and more dangerous by the minute, waiting for the right operator to come along.

And along came Trump who, instead of asking permission from Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh to use their pretty hate machine, just confiscated the damn thing outright and drove it to the top of the polls.

Along came Trump, who has followed Ford's trajectory almost exactly, accelerated by money and 21st century technology and cable news, and minus any misbegotten meddling in actual foreign policy (yet) because Trump is shrewd enough to understand that, despite having the trappings of a presidential campaign, this is not a contest where actual, measurable results count for anything.  It is, instead, a reality teevee show for bigots and morons where the success of any given subplot or episode is much less important than the dramatic cadence of the entire season which carries the story along.

Trump rises.  Trump falls.  Trump rises again.  Trump is attacked.  Trump appears wounded.  Trump rallies and comes out of his corner, blustering at 180 mph and winning.

The subject of the story is always Trump.  Trump and his detractors, who are also your detractors.  Trump and his enemies, who are also your enemies.  Trump and his dreams to Make America Great, which are also your dreams.

Trumps story works because he has appropriated the key elements of the lazy, grifting Beltway media's own master narrative and turned it against them.  Having vouched for the seriousness of hundreds of America's most mendacious Conservative freaks in the past, who are they to call out the lies of Donald Trump now?  Having given a pass to outright fraud and sedition by Republicans for years, who are they to suddenly come down with a case of the flaming fantods because Trump is saying in ALL CAPS what Conservative clowns both inside the government and behind Hate Radio microphones have been saying in slightly lower case for years?  Having eagerly promoted every Both Siderist huckster in the Beltway to positions of unassailable prominence, where can they run when Trump agrees with them that the country is fucked up because Republican elites suck and Liberals are hapless stooges and Barack Obama is secretly in league with America's enemies.

During my adult lifetime, Beltway media groveling for the approbation of Conservatives has gotten so bad and so shameless that despite overwhelming documentary evidence of Republican lies and deliberate Republican sabotage, "Blame Obama and punch a hippie while you're at it" has become the factory default setting for virtually every story of political dysfunction coming out of Washington. Through sheer, mindless, reflexive Both Siderism, the lords and ladies of American journalism have made it safe for Republicans to openly lie and get away with it, openly demonize others and get away with it, and to deliberately monkey-wrench the government of the United States and get away with it.

The Beltway media has been shitting the bed for decades. And now a mighty fascist oak grows out the reeking, fecal travesty they have made of their profession.

Trump Proves That Liberals Have Been Right All Along

The left nailed the pathology of the conservative movement years ago. The Donald is just making that impossible to deny.

When large swaths of the conservative movement resisted the notion that the GOP needed to widen its appeal to minorities, and could win by appealing to a broader base of whites, it was liberals who warned that these voters would drag the party into a racial abyss.

Trump is the fulfillment of that prophecy...
In other words:


bowtiejack said...

Very nice. Very nice.

Fran / Blue Gal said...

I do wish they'd hand out a blank map of the Middle East at the next Republican debate and ask everyone to "Find Syria." Pass / Fail.

Lawrence said...

Does the Ryan statement mobilize the Freedom Carcass to guarantee a shutdown now? I mean a worse one than we are going to get anyway because they don't have time to fix it.

bowtiejack said...

Fran/Blue Gal
I've always been impressed with Sarah Palin's, uh, confusion about Africa being a "country".
We are talking about a demographic here, including the candidates, who at high school graduation sailed their mortar boards into the air and screamed, "Thank God, I'll never have to open another book!"

crweaver said...

As for Obama - and 'libruls' generally - being 'in league with our enemies', it seems that the old dolchstosslegende never dies - it just gets repackaged.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

From The Rude Pundit's site:

Much, though not all, of Trump's appeal to the booboisie

Unsalted Sinner said...

"Facts. I can't give them out yet because I haven't got them all. But I'll have them soon."

As soon as my team of investigators return from Hawaii with the real long-form Kenyan birth certificate.

trgahan said...

"..Barack Obama is secretly in league with America's enemies."

Yet, since 1995, 85% of all foreign terrorists acting on US soil either were from or pass through Saudi Arabia. Congressional Republicans "middle ground solution" to Trump's proposal is to make it harder for people from certain Middle East and African countries to come to the US, except Saudi Arabia. A few years ago, I had to watch hours of beltway media telling me Bush walking around holding the Saudi King's hand is in no way a sign the US is too close to Saudi Arabian rulers to ever oppose them when it was in the nations best interest.

I know pointing this out is just me being a liberal degrading the conversation, but who's in league with who again?!?