It’s really very, very serious now. No more Drumpf for me. His name is Donald Trump. And he is a very unstable man who is propagating and inspiring a very dangerous and destabilizing kind of hate and bigotry in the country. Even if he doesn’t win the presidency, the hate and bigotry he is both promoting and, in some vulnerable minds, legitimating will remain.
This morning, after doubling down on his ridiculous and unconstitutional and frightening ban on Muslims entering the country, Trump suggested that the President of the United States is in fellowship with ISIS. I don’t give a damn how he might spin his comments later on. He is implying that President Obama is a traitor to his country:
We are led by a man who is either not tough, not smart, or he has something else in mind. And the something else in mind, people can’t believe it.
He also called on the president to resign because he “disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam.'” For some reason, and I don’t quite understand why it is, that phrase has become central to the right-wing attack against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (although she used it today). Even people like Sam Harris—who on this issue sounds more like a right-wing radio jock than a thoughtful philosopher—are obsessed with using certain terms when speaking about the fight against jihadism. It’s as if all Obama has to do is speak the sacred phrase three times and the incantation will turn all the jihadists into Quakers.
In any case, Trump’s Obamaphobia is legendary among his cultish following, folks who already know that Obama is a traitor. They don’t have to be told. But they like to be told and they love Trump for telling them. It’s church-camp reinforcement of their hatred for and fear of the president.
One such hater—and I could pick any number of them—is a man named David Horowitz. He is one of the nastiest reactionaries in the country. I used to pay a lot of attention to him when I was a conservative, just to show you how nuts I was. Horowitz, who used to be a left-wing extremist, is now one of the best examples of how Obamaphobia warps a willing mind. And Horowitz has figured out a way to make some very dirty money off his hatred for Obama and for Democrats and for liberals. That is what his inaptly named “Freedom Center” is all about. Allow me to share just a few of the things Horowitz has said on Twitter since Orlando:
- He called Obama the “Number 1 enabler of terrorism.” Obama is not number four or number three or even number two. He’s on top.
- Linking to, as he frequently does, a Breitbart piece of propaganda, Horowitz said, “Thx Barack & Hillary for destroying our borders and importing terrorists from the Islamic world.“ Yes. Barack and Hillary made it possible for the Orlando killer to be born in New York and move to Florida and kill gay people. Yes. That has to be true.
- Another link to Breitbart was accompanied by “Obama no innocent. Chose to legitimize a mosque preaching gays evil.“ I’m not sure how a Christian can “legitimize” a mosque, but if any Christian could do it, Obama could.
- A Breitbart writer claimed, without any evidence whatsoever to back him up, that the Justice Department and “Obama’s appointees” were responsible for making the FBI “drop” it’s probe of the Orlando killer. To which Horowitz replied, “More blood on Obama’s hands.” “More blood” means, of course, that Obama has had plenty of blood on his hands before, a common charge among the deranged right-wing.
- Horowitz wrote that “Obama and Jarrett are not ignorant of history. They hate America.” They don’t just dislike their own country. They hate it. And of course it is obvious they do. That’s why they have spent such large amounts of time serving it.
- He said, “Truest words on the shooting come from Trump.” Truth and Trump don’t go together, as everyone knows, that is, everyone who isn’t in the Trump cult or suffering from Obamaphobia.
- He claimed, “It’s pretty obvious that the Orlando shooter was taken off the FBI radar by Democrats at DHS whose priority is protecting Muslim radicals.” When he says it is “pretty obvious,” he means there is no evidence to back him up.
- Linking to a bizarre opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post, which compared Bernie Sanders to Torquemada and to “Jews who fought and spied for Nazi Germany” and to “Stalin’s personal assistant,” Horowitz tweeted, “Bernie Sanders – the anti-American, the anti-Jewish Jew.” You see? Liberals can’t possibly just be mistaken about an issue. They can’t possibly hold a legitimate contrary opinion. If they disagree with conservatives, they hate America. If they disagree with the government of Israel, they are Jew-haters.
So, there’s all of that. But perhaps the most disturbing thing Horowitz did was link to an article on a website called Gotnews, which was founded by right-winging “journalist” Charles C. Johnson. The article represents an early attempt to smear the entire family of the Orlando killer. But the writer, who happens to be Charles C. Johnson, goes beyond smearing the family. He said,
It’s long past time to hold the families responsible.
Terrorism never occurs in a vacuum.
Donald Trump is right! It’s time to take out the families of terrorist supporters.
That’s the kind of dangerous—and completely un-American—thinking Trump inspires.
The great filmmaker, Ken Burns, gave the commencement address at Stanford this year. It is worth your time to listen to the entire speech. But pay special attention to what he said about Trump:
As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of womenlosing authority over their own bodies, African-Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber-rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making “the other” wrong.
These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again — all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.
We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or “balance,” or even of bemused disdain.
No more bemused disdain for me. We are living in dangerous and decisive times. Ken Burns said, “We must remain committed to the kindness and community that are the hallmarks of civilization,” and he added that we must “reject the troubling, unfiltered Tourette’s of [Trump’s] tribalism.”
Indeed. We should. But what if we don’t? What will become of us if Trump is elected? Perhaps a better question is, what will become of us if he isn’t?