What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 21, 2017

And So Here It Is: The Beginning Of The Trump Administration

I suppose we need to begin with his Inaugural Address.

It's been fact-checked by Polifact, USAToday, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post among others.

But I'm not here to fact-check.  I want to dig into some of the darker aspects of Trump's speech.

This one, for instance:
From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
This has caught the eye of more than a few critics.

There was an "America First" political party a decade or so ago.  It was built by some Pat Buchanan supporters who left the Reform party in 2002.  It's the usual far-right stuff; No restrictions on 2nd Amendment rights, US out of the United Nations, English-only and so on.

But that's not what's at issue here.  What's at issue is the Antisemitism of the an earlier "America First" group - the America First Committee.

According to Professor David Gordon, now of CUNY, the decision of the AFC to give Charles Lindbergh a prominent role in the organization would destroy the reputation of the AFC.  This is what Lindbergh said in Des Moines 2 months before Pearl Harbor.  He was outlining three groups that were looking to force the USA into WWII; The British, The Roosevelt Administration, and (of course) The Jews.

It was felt that Roosevelt was pumping up war-hysteria in order to distract from the economic downturn in 1937.

In any event Lindbergh had this to say:
No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them.
And then:
Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.

I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.
Yes, he said that.  You'll note the separation of "us" and "them" when talking about "the Jewish race" and who's "them" and their un-American reasons for wanting the United States to enter the war.

I seriously doubt if Trump knew any of this (even though he's very smart and always has the best words) but still, this is the historical context of "America First" and if he knew anything, he'd have steered clear of the phrase.  And on the off-chance that he did know its anti-Semitic context (and, let's be honest, what's the chance of that??) and yet used it anyway, well that's a whole different story, isn't it?

So which is it?  Political ignorance or antisemitism?

Neither looks good on the little handed pussy grabber.

Then there's this:
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
Did you see it? What's "total allegiance"?  Who defines it?  And more importantly, who enforces it?  And how does it square with the following passages of his speech?
The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
A united America is unstoppable.  While honest debate is a must, it's only to be done in the pursuit of "solidarity" and within the framework of the idea that the bedrock of our politics is a God-pleasing "total allegiance" to America - Donald Trump's America.

It should be frightening to the rest of us.

Ein Volk...

The speech has some detractors on the right.  It was a speech that George Will (hardly a bleeding heart lib'rul) called "the most dreadful inaugural address in history."  Adding:
Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all.

But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we “follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.” “Simple” is the right word.
That penultimate sentence should have free-market conservatives up-in-arms.  Whatever happened to letting the market decide?  How much of mainstream conservatism has Trump pissed on?

To that end, I have to point out that the editors of the National Review Online called the speech "unconservative."

How sad is it that the checks on his power depend not on the so-far unbullied remnants of the conservative movement (like George Will and the NRO editors), but on the power hungry GOP members of Congress who are looking to give Trump much of what he (though not America) wants.

Best of luck to us all.

1 comment:

Maria Lupinacci said...

That speech was Steve Bannon all the way.