Laurie Penny provides a vivid witness account of Trump's ugly rallying:
Trump has already promised to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, who he says are “rapists”, and to force all Muslims to register to prove that they are not terrorists; he gleefully mocks black people, women and, most of all, the mainstream press that hangs on his every outrageous statement. His followers love him not in spite of his cartoonish fat-cat persona but because of it. His platform is nationalist, militaristic and soaked in the language of big business. The usually cautious American liberal media has called him a fascist. I’m here to see if they are right.Then, as Penny records, comes that infamous declaration:
“Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Thunderous applause.For Penny, Trump:
may or may not believe the xenophobic race-baiting he peddles, but his audiences certainly do. This campaign is giving hundreds of thousands of Americans permission to be nakedly racist and unabashedly xenophobic. It’s not about truth. It’s about power.So, take good note, she concludes, it's:
too late for laughter. Trump is selling fascism with a cartoon face. It’s the only type of fascism that was ever going to sell in America.And, sell it does, certainly to a core populist right and worryingly wider audience. But does such deconstruction of Trump also help sell, by default, other easy notions of our 'more respectable' leaders, and the 'benign liberal democracy' Trump seems to be 'subverting'?
Perversely, Trump is the best thing around right now for crusading liberals and, more particularly, crusading liberal interventionists. It gives them great moral cover. 'Look', they can all shake their heads, 'see what a nasty, racist xenophobe he is. Let's all denounce him', while the liberal missionary West gets on with bombing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and all those other troublesome Muslim lands they're busy delivering democracy to (liberal coda for invading). So, while Trump wants to ban Muslims, Obama, Cameron, Hollande and their apologists are content to bomb them. While a hypothetical curtailing of Muslims gets roundly denounced, actual killing of Muslim people gets soundly approved.
Of course, in this latest case, most Muslims and others are to be 'dutifully protected', as it's 'only' the bombing of Islamic State that's been approved. And, not just quietly approved, but cheered ecstatically by all those sturdy Tories and Labour 'rebels'. Never mind the need for basic solemnity in approving a war that will see so many more Syrians and others killed. Wasn't it so telling of our 'noble parliament' that the cry to bomb human beings could be made so gleefully? And reported in the same way. Alas, spoiling it all, with his usual lack of deference, Jeremy Corbyn had the temerity to denounce the cheering of Hilary Benn's forth-to-war speech as "jingoism".
While a lofty liberal media rail against Trump's fascistic spiel, Benn has been venerated for equating the fight against fascist Franco with the liberal crusade against Islamic State. What was more preposterous: Trump's fascist rhetoric to advance his own narcissistic campaign, or Benn's spurious invocation of the left's anti-fascism to help sell another fascistic war in the Middle East?
Stop the War's highlighting of such hypocrisy and Benn's fabrications could have been hailed by our media. Instead, note Media Lens, it was wilfully used to denounce them, all as a pretext for more smearing of Corbyn.
Should it actually require having to say that Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, a corporate megalomaniac, a fascist? Sure, Trump's a crazy in all these regards - though quite an intelligent one, if measured by the capacity for calculated PR. But is he more crazy than those engaged in the actual mass murdering of Muslims? Is he more crazy than those behind the US plan - divulged by ex-General Wesley Clark - to pick-off a top list of Muslim lands? Is he as crazy as those now still actively pursuing that agenda through more bombing and destabilisation?
How did we ever get to such a state of crazy selectivity where rhetorical racism is deemed much worse than wilful, racist killing? Yes, let's be alert to what Trump might do in office. But let's see, more immediately, the carnage caused by those already in-office suits, Obama, Cameron and Hollande.
There could be a case for banning certain Muslims, like the Saudi elite, as they fly into US, UK and French arms fairs in search of weapons to carry out mass murder in Yemen. But there's been little media scrutiny of these ugly appeasements, and how their economy of death imperils even more Muslim lives.
Without even having to mention Trump, Chris Hedges relates how "the creeping villainy of American politics" at large has now ravaged US civil society through the infection of hate speech and vilification of Muslims.
In truth, people like Trump are able to say what they do because they feed from that state of political villainy. And with that political protection comes corporate-cultural approval. Trump has also got away with so much for so long because of his celebrity-corporate status and media-led fascination with star billionaires. Thus, the acceptable personalisation of corporate monsters. Piers Morgan, for example, still counts Trump as a friend, an honourable man, and seems perplexed by his latest racist outpourings. Of course, this says much more about Morgan himself who, as a notable media liberal, has nothing to say about the more dangerous truths behind US Inc.
Thus strides the corporate behemoth, giving seemingly safe cover to other 'prudent associations', many now awkwardly undone after Trump's outing. Note, for instance, Alex Salmond, who openly courted Trump in the name of 'economic development', leaving a lot of displaced people and ruined land in the lamentable process. A little lesson learned, hopefully, about dark company regrettably kept.
Not so, when it comes to the 'liberal media's burden'. While America has Trump, we have his kindred spirit, Boris Johnson. Here's a man who does already hold significant political office, and, incredibly, may become prime minister. While keeping safe political distance from Trump, this is another mad-haired populist who speaks reverentially of 'our higher right' to kill, in this case crowing about Britain's "martial spirit" in having invaded 176 of the world's nearly 200 countries. Johnson's Etonian bombast may make him sound, to some, like the "rogueish swordsman" of the Flashman novels. In fact, he's peddling a neo-fascistic doctrine of imperialist exceptionalism, the exclusive right to invade and murder. Yet, unlike the response to Trump, Johnson's misty-eyed reflections on Britain's mass violence around the world seems to endear him even more to our liberal quisling media.
As Trump's own campaign claims become evermore shrill, how convenient to hold him up as a demonic stink to 'Western civilization', allowing rising approval of the 'politically fragrant' Hillary Clinton. And here we come to the real beneficiary of Trump's crass soundings, all played-up by a Hillary-adoring media.
Here's what Clinton tweeted in response to Trump's 'ban all Muslims' call:
This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive. @RealDonaldTrump, you don't get it. This makes us less safe. -H
Recall her support for invading Iraq and extending troop numbers in Afghanistan. Remember her cackling "We came, we saw, he died" hysterics over Gaddafi. Recall her taking care to 'stand by her man', as husband Bill carried out a sanctions policy that saw half a million deaths in pre-invasion Iraq. Think of her support for fascist coup forces in Ukraine. Reflect on her relentless defending of Israel's brutal occupation and mass killings in Gaza, and her steadfast support for Israel against Iran. And don't forget her urgings to arm the 'moderate' jihadists in Syria in pursuit of regime change. By a clear distance, Clinton's insatiable militarism and promotion of corporate warmongering is much more of a threat to Muslims than any of Trump's wild invective.
Many left-leaning observers are issuing emergency warnings about Trump, and America's dark slide into fascism, without apparently even seeing the extent of Clinton's own militarist-fascistic politics. A seemingly well-intentioned piece by Mike Small at (the often illuminating) Bella Caledonia is a good case in point:
Clinton’s challenge is to present herself as a future-facing candidate rather than a figure from the past. She will be, possibly even more than Sanders, a lightning rod for the right-wing media and Fox culture of America’s shock-jocks and online frenzy. Whoever wins the nomination it will be the most politically-charged and divergent race in decades. The stakes couldn’t be higher. With the world in a state of heightened tension, with multiple points of conflict, Putin at the helm in Russia and crucial climate commitments being brokered, the prospects of Trump gaining power in America are terrifying.Here, we're being asked to consider Clinton's problem - the "challenge" of new presentation and dealing with Fox-jocks, rather than the problem with Clinton. As Putin, the standard liberal bogeyman, looms large in this troubled scenario, we can, at least, rest easier knowing that:
If the unthinkable happens, and [Trump] becomes the Republican candidate he will at last be under the glare of some proper media scrutiny. Head to head with any of the Democratic candidates he will be taken apart.And which part of that "proper media" will be there to scrutinise Clinton, or dare to take apart the sham process of those taking Trump apart?
All those foretelling the terror of Trump should be ringing much louder alarm bells over the coming calamity of Clinton.
As writer Roqayah Chamseddine more concisely notes, Clinton has used Trump's racist eruptions as an opportunistic veil, a capacity for duplicitous positioning seen in her past lauding of George W Bush's 'reassuring' words after 9/11, when he declared:
“America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens" [and then] went on to torture and extrajudicially execute Muslims and deprive countless Muslims of their civil liberties.The same dark calculus continues with Clinton, an arch warmonger with a past record which those emoting fear over Trump rarely address:
Anti-Muslim animus goes far beyond ornamented stenographers to power obsessing over the statements of Donald Trump. It is systematic, and often cloaked in the language of humanitarian hyper-militarism and even inclusion. Despite Hillary Clinton’s sentimental rhetoric, her policies and political affiliations are concrete and show that she has never been a friend to Muslims, nor will her administration be one.So, Clinton or Trump, who is the real political psychopath, the more fascistic figure? It's a mark of the liberal media's service propaganda that very little of this deeper issue about fascist America will feature in the next 'great presidential race'. Many more millions of dollars will be spent before we know which faction of the US corporate elite has managed to buy the election. Whichever it is, we can be sure that the same shared business and political interests will prevail.
Yet, wasn't it always so about the US? Noting Mussolini's dictum that "fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power", the late, great American historian Howard Zinn said that, while there are shades of democratic engagement in the United States:
We've had a union of the governing and corporate power ever since the formation of this country. There's an element of fascism in that.More recently, the ever-acute John Pilger wrote of "America's modern fascism":
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations - 69 countries - have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America's modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as "sanctions". The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.For Pilger:
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception." This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture.In railing against Trump, rather than exposing these deeper fascistic forces, media liberals are playing a key part in that twisted conceit.