His Name Is Trump

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:

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 bodieken burns at stanfords, 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?


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  1. I have no plans to disable the Drumpfinator. It makes your title absurd. It would be like, we can’t call George W. Bush “shrub” anymore because of how dangerous he really was. I honestly can’t see a Republican getting away with worse than the shrub did. All we need is for the shrub to campaign for Drumpf. Lets raise money to get shrub to campaign for Drumpf and watch him try to distance himself. That would be fun.


    • I had the feeling that using his old family name, since it sounded so funny, was too easily seen as not taking him seriously, like he was nothing more than a joke. Well, that was true at one time. But not anymore. His reaction to the Orlando massacre shows just how dangerous this man is in real time. And I just became uncomfortable using Drumpf because it seems, at least to me, to not properly convey how serious we should take the threat of President Trump.


  2. I am impressed by Ken Burns’ historical insights. I always thought Germany’s fascism of the 1930’s could only thrive because of economic distress but now I see it forming even in the relative prosperity of an America that is increasingly strange to me. Who would have thought a modern demagogue could flourish with nothing more than juvenile taunts, boasts, innuendo and incomplete sentences? Certainly not I. But it is happening. It is enabled by confirmation bias.

    I agree, Duane. This is a very serious thing. Possible title for Trump’s next book: My Struggle.


    • Your point is something I, too, marvel at. Our economy is pretty good right now, considering what is going on in the rest of the world. In fact, Americans report their own personal economic situation as good, but rate the economy as bad. How do you account for that, except that both sides have talked down (in different ways) the economy so much that the message has stuck? But the idea that in such a decent economy someone like Trump could find his way to the head of the Party of Lincoln is beyond baffling. I think, or rather I hope, that his rise says more about the national Republican Party’s health than it says about our national health. Trouble is, a sick Republican Party makes for a sick country.


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