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November 2, 2016

The KKK Is Working To Get Out The Vote — For Donald Trump

Filed under: Elections,Fascism,Racism — millerlf @ 11:43 am
 Huffington Post Black Voices 11/1/16

With just a week until Election Day, the Ku Klux Klan appears to be ramping up its effort to get GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump into the White House.

Residents in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Louisiana have all reported finding fliers from the KKK outside their homes in recent days. The materials contain calls for people to vote and join the organization as it tackles hot-button social issues with exactly the level of contemplation you might expect from a racist hate group.

“Please join and help us take our country back,” reads a flier recently distributed in Madison, Alabama. “Black Lives Matter Black Panthers are telling followers to kill white people and police officers in the name of justice for the killing of Negro’s (sic) by policemen in the line of duty. These Negro’s (sic) were not innocent. They were thugs breaking the law, and standing up against police.”

October 9, 2016

Donald Trump’s unbelievable new statement about the Central Park 5

Filed under: Fascism,Racism,Trump — millerlf @ 10:36 am
Think Progress

Despite overwhelming evidence, Trump still can’t admit their innocence

 In 1990, a group of four black teens and one Latino teen were convicted of the brutal assault and rape of a jogger. The April 1989 attack came amid rising crime rates in New York City and a wave of violence in Central Park itself.

Despite the nonexistence of solid evidence, the five were convicted thanks to a confession they said was coerced by officers violently interrogating them while they were deprived of food and sleep. In 2002, their innocence was proven once and for all when another man confessed to the crime and his DNA was determined to match a sample found on the victim.

As ThinkProgress has previously documented, during the trial of the Central Park 5, Donald Trump called for capital punishment in an ad he spent more than $85,000 to place in four newspapers:

CREDIT: New York Times

Even after the five agreed to a $41 million settlement with the city in 2014, Trump continued to suggest they were less than innocent.

“My opinion on the settlement of the Central Park Jogger case is that it’s a disgrace,” Trump wrote in a June 2014 New York Daily News op-ed. “What about the other people who were brutalized that night, in addition to the jogger?”

In a tweet posted the year before, Trump alluded to the wave of crime Central Park was experiencing at the time of the attack to suggest that even if the teens weren’t guilty of rape, they were still guilty of something.

September 26, 2016

Donald Trump:The Cartoon

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 12:51 pm

September 21, 2016

Trump’s Hitlerian disregard for the truth

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 9:21 am

The Economist, a fine British newsmagazine, is rarely wrong, but it was recently in strongly suggesting that the casual disregard for truth that is the very soul of Donald Trump’s campaign is something new under the sun. The technology — tweets and such — certainly is, but his cascade of immense lies certainly is not. I’d like to familiarize the Economist with Adolf Hitler.

I realize that the name Hitler has the distractive quality of pornography and so I cite it only with reluctance. Hitler, however, was not a fictional creation but a real man who was legally chosen to be Germany’s chancellor, and while Trump is neither an anti-Semite nor does he have designs on neighboring countries, he is Hitlerian in his thinking. He thinks the truth is what he says it is.

Soon after becoming chancellor, Hitler announced that the Jews had declared war on Germany. It was a preposterous statement because Jews were less than 1 percent of Germany’s population and had neither the numbers nor the power to make war on anything. In fact, in sheer preposterousness, it compares to Trump’s insistence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — a position he tenaciously held even after Obama released his Hawaiian birth certificate.

At the time, people tried to make sense of Hitler’s statements by saying he was seeking a scapegoat and had settled on the Jews. Not so. From my readings, I know of no instance in which Hitler confided to an intimate that, of course, his statements about Jews were, as we might now say, over the top. In fact, he remained consistently deranged on the topic. He was not lying. For him, it was the truth.

Trump’s fixation on Obama’s birthplace is similar. It was not, as far as he’s concerned, a lie. It was a strongly felt truth that he abandoned only last week and then only under intense pressure — not out of conviction. To Trump, the lie was not what he had been saying about Obama’s birthplace; it was the one he had told when he finally was compelled to say that Obama was born in the U.S.A. The reason he did not apologize for having so long insisted otherwise is that an apology would have crossed his personal red line. Like a child, he had his fingers crossed.

Donald Trump’s campaign praises the Republican presidential nominee for ending the ‘birther’ controversy while his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton says he must apologize to President Obama. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Just as Hitler’s remarks about Jews were deeply rooted in German anti-Semitism, so was Trump’s birtherism rooted in American racism — with some anti-Muslim sentiment thrown in. Trump’s adamant insistence on it raised issues not, as some have so delicately put it, about his demeanor, but instead about his rationality. It made a joke out of the entire furor over revealing his medical records. I’m sure that Trump is fine physically. Mentally, it’s a different story.

In a purloined email, Colin Powell called Trump’s birther fixation “racist.” But the former secretary of state has never done so publicly, and his hesitation about Hillary Clinton — “for good reason she comes across as sleazy” — is no excuse for being AWOL in this fight. Like Henry Kissinger, George P. Shultz and some other GOP grandees, he has retreated to a neutral corner, as if the fight is not his, too. They all have their qualms with Clinton, but not a single one of them can possibly believe that the United States and its values will not survive her presidency. A Trump presidency is a different matter.

It’s a mistake to make the unreasonable compatible with the reasonable — to think, say, that Trump cannot be serious about this birther stuff or building a wall or likening the difficulties of becoming a billionaire to the loss of a son in Iraq. That was the authentic Trump, a man totally unburdened by concern for anyone else.

 There is no lie that cannot be believed. Even after Germany had murdered most of Europe’s Jews, allied investigators at the end of World War II found that many Germans believed, as historian Nicholas Stargardt put it, that their country’s defeat only “confirmed the ‘power of world Jewry.’ ”

Germany was not some weird place. At the advent of the Hitler era, it was a democracy, an advanced nation, culturally rich and scientifically advanced. It had a unique history — its defeat in World War I, the hyperinflation of the 1920s — so it cannot easily be likened to the contemporary United States. But it was not all that different, either. In 1933, it chose a sociopathic liar as its leader. If the polls are to be believed, we may do the same.

Read more from Richard Cohen’s archive.

September 18, 2016

Here are 10 more conspiracy theories embraced by Donald Trump

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 5:13 pm

By Jose A. DelReal September 16 Washington PostDonald Trump said he was ending the controversy about whether President Obama was born in the United States. (SHAWN THEW/European Pressphoto Agency)

As Donald Trump on Friday withdrew his allegation that President Obama was not born in the United States, he offered another debunked accusation in its place: that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, created the “birther” movement before he became its champion.

That moment marked the latest instance in which the GOP presidential nominee has elevated a discredited allegation — echoing comments circulating on social media — and injected it into the presidential contest. Trump has regularly come under fire for repeating unfounded rumors as fact, and has been challenged by fact-checkers and opposition groups on scores of statements he has made.

Below is a short history of similar unsubstantiated claims Trump has repeated.

1) That President Obama did not attend Columbia University

At the height of birther movement, Trump also insinuated on occasion that the president had not truly attended Columbia University. Trump once also offered $5 million to charity if Obama released his college transcripts, which he hoped would reveal the president’s birthplace.

“Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere,” Trump said in 2011 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, according to a transcript by PolitiFact. “In fact, I’ll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”

2) That Trump’s taxes were the subject of an audit because he’s a Christian

In another instance in February, Trump said that his tax returns may be under audit by the Internal Revenue Service because of his religious faith.

“Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias,” he said during a CNN interview.

“I can tell you one thing: I am audited when I shouldn’t be audited,” Trump said later. “I tell my people: Why is it that every single year, I’m audited, whereas other people that are very rich, people are never audited — and they don’t even know what I’m talking about when I talk about audits.”

3) There’s something “very fishy” about Vince Foster’s death

Trump’s claims have echoed theories and conspiracies popping on social media and various fringe blogs on the Internet.
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In May, Trump suggested that something was amiss in the “very fishy” suicide of former White House aide Vince Foster, which has been at the center of conspiracy theories for decades.

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump told The Washington Post in May, speaking about Foster’s connection to the Clintons. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”

4) That Antonin Scalia may have been a victim of foul play

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was announced in February, Trump spread rumors about potential foul play:

“And it’s a horrible topic. But they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can’t tell you what — I can’t give you an answer. You know, usually I like to give you answers,” Trump told a conservative radio host, Michael Savage. “But I literally just heard it a little while ago. It’s just starting to come out now.”

5) That Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, was linked with JFK’s assassin

In May, citing a National Inquirer cover, Trump suggested that the father of GOP primaries rival Sen. Ted Cruz had been involved with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. That connection was uncorroborated, and Cruz, blasting Trump, called the real estate developer a “pathological liar.”

Trump threatened his own efforts to unify the party in July — the day after he formally accepted the GOP nomination — when he repeated the claim at a news conference where he tore into Cruz because the senator refused to endorse him during a prime-time speech.

6) That vaccines are connected to autism

Last year, Trump stirred controversy during a presidential debate when he said that vaccines may cause childhood autism.

“The child, the beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever. Got very, very sick. Now is autistic,” Trump said. “I’m in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time. Same amount, just in little sections.”

7) That he witnessed thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey

Trump claimed last year that he had witnessed on television thousands of Muslims celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. No such footage has ever materialized.

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down,” Trump said on ABC News in November, one day after he made similar claims at a campaign event. “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George.”

8) That he was attacked by the Islamic State

After a man charged security barricades in March during a campaign event in Dayton, Ohio, Trump insisted that the young man was a member of the Islamic State because of a hoax Internet video he and his staff had seen circulating online.

The man, who had attempted to rush the stage, was charged with disorderly conduct but no ties to the Islamic State were found. Pressed on that later during an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump insisted: “”No, no, no, no. He was, if you look on the Internet, if you look at clip,” Trump said.

9) That climate change is a hoax

Trump received flak for suggesting years ago that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. Earlier this year he walked back that statement and said that he was joking.

10) That Obama bribed New York’s attorney general to investigate Trump University

At times, Trump’s claims have seemed calculated to deflect attention away from himself. At a campaign rally in February, Trump insinuated that Obama had bribed New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to launch the investigation against Trump University, the embattled for-profit education business licensing Trump’s brand.

“The attorney general of New York meets with Barack Obama in Syracuse,” Trump said, according to a transcript by the Huffington Post. “The following day he sues me. What they don’t say is, I believe, $15,000 or a lot of money was paid to the attorney general by the law firm in California that is suing me.”


July 31, 2016

Stop Trump article by Jonathan Smucker

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 10:32 pm

The following Smucker article is an insightful contribution to the discussions on fighting Trump and fascism. A the same time I feel the article needs to more intentionally identify racism and white supremacy, both historially and presently, as the foundation for fascism’s growth and the weakness of progressive populism. For example, the discussion of Roosevelt’s populism leaves out the fact that an alliance was made with Southern Democrats which kept the Democratic party in power for the span of Roosevelt’s nearly 16 year presidency which meant that the Jim Crow reign of terror continued in the South.

The article is also extremely vague about what happens after November 8. The return to levels of fragmentation and separation is a likely outcome. Following the recall of Walker, as part of a significant uprising in Wisconsin, the way forward has been without enough focus and alliance of forces.

Jonathan M fight Smucker 7/29/16

We want a political revolution. First we must defeat fascism.

If progressives fail to seize the populist moment, the authoritarian right will fill the void. The insurgent Bernie Sanders campaign was a big step forward in building the progressive populist political alignment we need. Now that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party nominee, we have to figure out how to keep building after the 2016 election cycle. But first we must mobilize to defeat hate, bigotry, and the growing threat of fascism.

Two populisms

We are living in very exciting times. And we are living in very dangerous times. This year I was thrilled by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. It’s remarkable how close he came to winning the Democratic Party nomination, considering the resources and organization arrayed against his insurgent campaign. Like many others, I voted for Bernie in the primary and did what I could to work for his nomination. I wish he had won for so many reasons. Obviously there’s the fact that he is genuinely progressive and willing to fight against entrenched power, including his own party’s stale leadership. He signals a potential progressive direction for both the Democratic Party and the country. As important, I think Sanders was the stronger candidate in the general election — for reasons that most in the Democratic Party leadership completely fail to grasp. Why do I think Bernie would have been more viable? For the same reason that I thought Trump had the potential to win the Republican nomination since last summer: we are living in populisttimes.

Let me be more specific than the pundits who have been throwing around the word populism willy-nilly in recent months, as if it were not much more than a bad mood swing of the American electorate. To be living in populist times is to be living in an era when political authority is no longer seen as legitimate by most people; what’s often referred to as a crisis of legitimacy. During such a crisis, populist movements and leaders emerge, from both the right and the left, in order to forge a new popular alignment of social forces. Populists explain the causes of the crisis, they name ‘the establishment’ as the problem, and they articulate a new vision forward — an aspirational horizon — for ‘the people.’ Left-wing populism and right-wing populism thus share certain rhetorical features (i.e., ‘the people’ aligned against ‘the establishment’), but their contents and consequences could hardly be further apart. The retrograde ‘aspirational horizon’ of right-wing populism tends to be in the rearview mirror: a nostalgic longing for a simpler time that never actually existed. More importantly, despite its ostensible anti-elitism, right-wing populism always punches down, unifying ‘the people’ (some of them) by scapegoating a demonized other: blacks, Jews, homosexuals, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims — take your pick — depending on the opportunities available to the particular demagogue in the given context.

“Despite displaying the trappings of anti-elitism, right-wing populism always punches down, unifying ‘the people’ by scapegoating a demonized other.”

The signs of the present crisis accumulated for a long time: The Iraq War, crumbling public infrastructure, Hurricane Katrina, growing inequality. But if any single event brought about a popular recognition of the crisis of legitimacy, it was the financial meltdown of 2008. Despite reestablishing some level of relative stability, this underlying crisis has stayed with us since then, even if often out of sight and out of the minds of the punditry and the political class. Their underestimation of the magnitude of the crisis is what has made them so useless in predicting the remarkable success of the insurgencies within both major parties in 2016.

In these two insurgencies we can see the ‘two sides’ of populism and the two very different possible paths. Thus, a crisis of legitimacy is exciting for progressives insofar as it places our potential path right in front of us. It presents our underdog movements with an incredible opportunity to narrate the crisis, to reframe the premises of American society, and to organize a new progressive populist alignment capable of challenging the entrenched power of elites: in short, a political revolution. But a crisis of legitimacy is extraordinarily dangerous for a left that is not ready to take advantage of it. History shows that when progressives fail to realign popular social forces in such populist moments, reactionary authoritarians can suddenly step in with remarkable speed and horrific consequences. That is what we are witnessing with the rise of Trump in the United States, and with the related rise of fascism (leaders, movements, and political parties) throughout much of Europe. The stakes of everything we do right now are extraordinarily high.

Neoliberals, progressives, and the Democratic Party


July 30, 2016

Prevent a Trump Victory; Stand Up to Fascism

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 8:16 am

by Larry Miller

I’ve heard and read an array of distressing statements from the left about the upcoming election.

“This election is nothing more than choosing between the lesser of two evils.”

“Fascism and neoliberalism are two sides of the same coin.”

“Social democracy is the left wing of Fascism.”

“Voting has no purpose.”

All these statements add up to not voting for Hillary Clinton. But such perspectives are ahistorical and do not address the needs of the people’s movements at this time.

The following is not a defense of Hillary Clinton and her  political positions, but instead is an argument for a strategic consideration to defend the American people against a growing fascist threat.

Donald Trump is calling for a police state in America. Trump’s call for “rounding up” 11 million immigrants, with the creation of a special police force, is a fascist act. His history of discrimination toward African-Americans combined with his vitriol toward Black Lives Matter and the Black community and his proclamation of being the “law and order” candidate make it clear that both Black and Brown communities would receive the brunt of his call for new forms of state terror.  In the not too distant past Black people in this country experienced a state of terror called Jim Crow. Under no circumstances should such terror be allowed to return.

The “We can’t vote for Hillary” arguments today do not reflect what we need to fight a growing and frightening ultra-nationalist and racist movement. A Trump victory would mean significant setbacks and unbearable obstacles for those fighting to improve the lives of working and poor folks.

I have an Iranian friend who is scared to death that Trump will win this election. She cannot return to Iran because she would be arrested by the fascist theocracy in power. She knows firsthand what it means to try and organize under a police state. She warns of the setbacks that would be faced by Black and Brown communities that already face incredible hardship.

A vote for Hillary does not equal a vote for neoliberalism. We don’t give up our own platform and demands by our vote. What we do is protect the democratic rights that we still have so we are more capable of organizing.

We need to be able to fight on more than one front. During World War II the Black community mobilized against Hitler fascism. At the same time they fought discrimination, Jim Crow laws, lynching, for voting rights, and against attacks on Black communities. African-American soldiers fought fascism in Europe, against white supremacy and segregation inside the military, and brought that battle back home after the war, leading to the great freedom struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.

Today the left should support blocking Trump from gaining the White House. This in no way calls for pulling back or watering down the demands of the important liberation movements being waged today. But it does say do the smart thing, find allies everywhere including within the Democratic Party, make use of contradictions within the ruling circles, and distinguish between enemies.

U.S. liberation movements are still weak and at early stages of development. We are without a unifying party that brings together the working class, liberation movements and communities of color. The Working Families Party and the Green Party are important to the struggle but they should not be confused with the type of political party that is needed to lead a political revolution in this country.

As Linda Burnham has pointed out in Notes on an Election, “The U.S. left is not strong enough – not nearly strong enough – to frame its own choices. Every choice that is framed for us by the center and the right will be agonizingly difficult. The key issue is whether the choices we make create the possibility to build our strength and move in the direction of a coherent strategy, or further weaken and marginalize our already fragmented and debilitated forces.”

In a recent interview on NPR, an immigrant Latino delegate to the Democratic convention, said, “Not voting against Trump is a privilege and luxury my people do not have.”

Bottom line: organize to vote for Hillary Clinton while organizing liberation and resistance movements.

The real need is to support and engage with communities that are resisting, organizing and seeking power — do door-knocking in poor and working-class communities; stand at a factory entrance during shift change; march with Black Lives Matter; march for immigration rights with groups like Voces de la Frontera; organize to elect progressive candidates locally; fight Islamophobia; organize for Palestinian rights; organize to oppose militarization and use of drones – all while calling on people to do everything in their power to stop Trump.

Those of us who are white need to find ways to talk to white co-workers, neighbors and others to expose why this billionaire who built his empire on union-busting, exploitation, discrimination and misogyny, is the last person to be the voice for working people.

Power to the People!






July 27, 2016

Understanding Trump: George Lakeoff

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 7:01 am

Understanding Trump

07/22/2016 George Lakoff Author of Don’t Think of an Elephant! | UC Berkeley Professor of Linguistics | Founder of Reframe America

There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

As a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?


July 24, 2016

More Examples of Trump’s Racism

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 4:31 pm

Is Donald Trump a Racist?

Nicholas Kristof JULY 23, 2016 NYTimes

HAS the party of Lincoln just nominated a racist to be president? We shouldn’t toss around such accusations lightly, so I’ve looked back over more than 40 years of Donald Trump’s career to see what the record says.

One early red flag arose in 1973, when President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department — not exactly the radicals of the day — sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals.

I’ve waded through 1,021 pages of documents from that legal battle, and they are devastating. Donald Trump was then president of the family real estate firm, and the government amassed overwhelming evidence that the company had a policy of discriminating against blacks, including those serving in the military.

To prove the discrimination, blacks were repeatedly dispatched as testers to Trump apartment buildings to inquire about vacancies, and white testers were sent soon after. Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental.

A former building superintendent working for the Trumps explained that he was told to code any application by a black person with the letter C, for colored, apparently so the office would know to reject it. A Trump rental agent said the Trumps wanted to rent only to “Jews and executives,” and discouraged renting to blacks.

Donald Trump furiously fought the civil rights suit in the courts and the media, but the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate.

In fairness, those suits date from long ago, and the discriminatory policies were probably put in place not by Donald Trump but by his father. Fred Trump appears to have been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927; Woody Guthrie, who lived in a Trump property in the 1950s, lambasted Fred Trump in recently discovered papers for stirring racial hatred.

Yet even if Donald Trump inherited his firm’s discriminatory policies, he allied himself decisively in the 1970s housing battle against the civil rights movement.

Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the “Central Park jogger” case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested.

Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch’s call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect, they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds.

As Trump moved into casinos, discrimination followed. In the 1980s, according to a former Trump casino worker, Kip Brown, who was quoted by The New Yorker: “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. … They put us all in the back.”

In 1991, a book by John O’Donnell, who had been president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump as criticizing a black accountant and saying: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” O’Donnell wrote that for months afterward, Trump pressed him to fire the black accountant, until the man resigned of his own accord.

Trump eventually denied making those comments. But in 1997 in a Playboy interview, he conceded “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

The recent record may be more familiar: Trump’s suggestions that President Obama was born in Kenya; his insinuations that Obama was admitted to Ivy League schools only because of affirmative action; his denunciations of Mexican immigrants as, “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists”; his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States; his dismissal of an American-born judge of Mexican ancestry as a Mexican who cannot fairly hear his case; his reluctance to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview; his retweet of a graphic suggesting that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual figure is about 15 percent); and so on.

Trump has also retweeted messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers, including two from an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the American Nazi Party’s founder.

Trump repeatedly and vehemently denies any racism, and he has deleted some offensive tweets. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi racist website that has endorsed Trump, sees that as going “full-wink-wink-wink.”

(Update: After this column was published, the Trump campaign emailed me the following statement: “Donald Trump has a lifetime record of inclusion and has publicly rebuked groups who seek to discriminate against others on numerous occasions. To suggest otherwise is a complete fabrication of the truth.”)

My view is that “racist” can be a loaded word, a conversation stopper more than a clarifier, and that we should be careful not to use it simply as an epithet. Moreover, Muslims and Latinos can be of any race, so some of those statements technically reflect not so much racism as bigotry. It’s also true that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.

And yet.

Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.


June 23, 2016

How to Fight a Fascist and Win

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 6:48 am

No revolution has been won or sustained by approaching all in power in the same way. Making use of contradictions within ruling circles and parties is a critical tactic that can determine whether people’s movements will advance or be set back. Following is an article suggesting such tactics in the face of a fascist threat.

Beating Donald Trump at the polls will be a necessary, but wholly insufficient step.

Gary Younge The Nation June 6, 2016

In the second round of France’s presidential elections in 2002, the left was faced with an unfamiliar challenge: What accessories to wear to the polls? The Socialist candidate, Lionel Jospin, had been knocked out in the first round. Now the choice was between the fascist National Front candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the conservative sleaze magnet, Jacques Chirac. There were no good options: Chirac had once opined that French workers were being driven crazy by the “noise and smell” of immigrants. But there was certainly a catastrophic option: the election of Le Pen, who had branded people with AIDS “lepers” and trivialized the Nazi gas chambers as “a detail” in history.

So the left debated casting ballots for Chirac wearing gloves or surgical masks (until they were told doing so might nullify their ballots), and in the end, many went to vote with a clothespin on their nose. “When the house is on fire,” François Giacalone, a Communist Party local councillor, told The Guardian, “you don’t care too much if the water you put it out with is dirty.”

If Hillary Clinton wins, her agenda will make an eventual victory for someone like Donald Trump more likely, not less.

In 2016, Donald Trump’s clinching the Republican nomination in the same week that a right-wing extremist narrowly lost the presidential election in Austria raises a serious strategic challenge for the progressive left. We are rightly buoyed by the notion that a better world is possible and have tasked ourselves with creating it. But it is no less true that, at any given moment, a far worse world is possible too, and we should do everything in our power to ensure that we don’t let somebody else create it.

There are two crucial distinctions to be made here. The first is to distinguish between those political opponents who are merely bad, and those who represent an existential threat to basic democratic rights. The second is to draw a clear distinction between the electoral and the political. For example, Mitt Romney was bad: Had he been elected in 2012, terrible things would’ve happened, and it is a good thing that he was defeated. But Trump is of a different order entirely. Xenophobic, Islamophobic, unhinged, and untethered to any broader political infrastructure, he has endorsed his supporters’ physically attacking protestors. His election would represent a paradigmatic shift in what is possible for the American right. To call Trump a fascist may suggest more ideological coherence than his blather deserves. But he is certainly part of that extended family and, as such, represents the kind of threat that Romney (for example) did not.

The same is true of Le Pen and Norbert Hofer, the hard-right Austrian presidential candidate who called gun ownership “the natural consequence” of immigration. The fact that the Austrian presidency is primarily ceremonial is beside the point; had Hofer won, others in more substantial positions would have followed.

Since this kind of threat is of a different order, so should be the response. While fascists have learned to cloak their bigotry in less inflammatory rhetoric (one more reason why Trump is an outlier: This is a trick he has yet to learn, though I’m sure the Republicans have their best folks working on it), their blunt message must be met with a blunt response. They must be stopped. And if their route to power is through the ballot box, they must be stopped there.

The question of whether, in America for example, one should forgo the two main parties for a third that is not beholden to big money and will back the interests of the poor and marginalized is an important one. But the question in these instances is not whether we will be in a better or worse position to organize and fight back after the election, but whether there will be future elections at all—and if so, in what atmosphere of intimidation and coercion they might take place.

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In that case, one should vote for the largest immovable object in the path of the extreme right—whether that’s Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or Jacques Chirac or Alexander Van der Bellen, the former Green Party spokesman who narrowly beat Hofer in Austria. But while defeating these forces at the polls is important, it is also insufficient. It does nothing to tackle the underlying causes for their popularity or address the grievances on which these parasites feed. Preventing them from gaining office is in no way commensurate with stemming their influence or power.

Take the most likely US presidential matchup: Clinton and Trump. Trump’s rise is rooted, to a significant extent, in the profound disenchantment of a section of the white working class created by the effects of neoliberal globalization in the wake of the most recent economic crash. Hillary’s staunchest advocate (her husband), whose legacy she shares on the stump (“We lifted people out of poverty” and “We created jobs”) bears considerable responsibility for the conditions that made Trump possible. Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act exacerbated the economic collapse, and his embrace of the North American Free Trade Agreement helped depress wages. Hillary Clinton backed these initiatives at the time, even if she has rowed back on some of them since. Setting her up in political opposition to Trump pits part of the cause against the symptom, with no suggestion of an antidote.

So even as one votes for Clinton—if she’s the nominee, then no one else is going to be able to stop Trump from taking power—one must prepare to organize against her. If she wins, her agenda will make an eventual victory for someone like Trump more likely, not less. More than a decade after Le Pen’s defeat, his daughter, who now heads the National Front, could yet reach the runoffs again. Hofer’s Freedom Party came in second place in the parliamentary elections in 1999 and was in a coalition government. Elections alone cannot defeat the populist right; we have to drain the swamp from which they gather their bait. When your house is ablaze, you grab whatever’s handy and put it out. But when the flames are quenched, the laborious task of fireproofing is in order.


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