Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Too Hot To Handle? Sharing My Recent Essay on Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Eliminationist Rhetoric

I wrote the following piece a week or so ago. It was delayed because some folks most likely thought it "too hot". I did however receive some positive comments from some "journals of record" and like publications I submitted it to--"positive" being a real response and rejection as opposed to being ignored or receiving an automated response.
My waiting for replies meant that I did not share this piece on Trump's coddling and endorsement of anti-Muslim eliminationism and racist conspiracy theories here at Indomitable when the story first broke. Such is life. 
Here, I suggest that eliminationist rhetoric remains a very important issue regarding both Trump, specifically, and the Right-wing hate media, more generally. I also would like to believe that the following essay is spot on. Do teach and help me if you would. 
What have I done well in the following piece? What could be improved? Why do think this critical essay/editorial was passed on? Not tooting my own horn, but I have not seen similar direct writing on the authoritarian racism and obviously eliminationist rhetoric of Trump and the GOP leadership and media in the "mainstream" American news media. Am I mistaken? 
[Even supposedly liberal websites such as the Daily Kos let this piece on eliminationism and Trump die on the vine.]
Or is this essay just not that good...thus why it was declined by more than one outlet?
Eliminationism is a belief that whole groups of people should be killed because of their ethnic, racial, religious, cultural, or other socio-political identity.
As reported by ThinkProgress, during a Donald Trump rally last week in Rochester, New Hampshire, the following exchange took place:

At a Trump campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire a man in a “Trump” shirt took the microphone and said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.”
“We know our current President is one,” he added. “You know he’s not even an American.”
“We need this question,” Trump replied, smiling.
Then things turned even darker, as the man discussed his beliefs that Muslims were in training camps plotting to kill.
“That’s my question. When can we get rid of ‘em?” the man said.
Trump was unfazed at the casual suggestion of cultural genocide. “We are going to be looking at a lot of different things. A lot of people saying that,” Trump said.

This hateful rhetoric is part of a larger pattern on the part of Republicans during the last twenty years from the election of Bill Clinton through to the Age of Obama.
Eliminationist rhetoric has been a fixture of the Right-wing American media for decades where outlets such as Fox News, and opinion leaders including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and others have routinely called “liberals” “retarded”, “cockroaches”, or wished death on them. As Daniel Goldhagen and David Neiwert argue in their respective works Worse than War and The Eliminationists, language that dehumanizes its target is one of the first steps towards legitimating violence towards them.
The eliminationist, anti-Muslim sentiments that were endorsed by Donald Trump on last Thursday follow an earlier incident where at a rally several weeks ago in Alabama, white supremacist slogans such as “White Power” were chanted from the crowd.
It is important to note that Donald Trump was one of the most prominent Right-wing figures to endorse “Birtherism”.
Birtherism is a belief that Barack Obama is a perennial Other both because he is a black American, and also supposedly possesses a “foreign” religion which is somehow not part of the American creed (although Islam came to America centuries ago with African slaves).
Birtherism mates together white supremacy, religious bigotry, xenophobia, and Herrenvolk white nationalism.
In total, Birtherism sits at the intersection of white supremacy and the Right-wing “conspiranoid” imagination. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that Birtherism and specious beliefs about the existence of Muslim terrorist training camps in America are circulated both on overt white supremacist websites, as well as within the Fox News Right-wing media echo chamber.
Birtherism and anti-Muslim conspiracies are part of a broader constellation of confused thinking on the part of Republicans. Right-wing conspiracies are not just believed by the lunatic fringe: they are increasingly normalized within the Republican Party.
For example:
30 percent of Republicans believed that the Obama administration was going to invade the state of Texas during the recent “Jade Helm” exercises. This number increased to 60 or 70 percent among Rick Perry and Ted Cruz supporters.
62 percent of Republicans believe that the Obama administration is secretly trying to confiscate guns owned by the American people.
42 percent of Republicans believe that Muslims are secretly trying to have Sharia law takeover the American legal system.
29 percent of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is not a United States citizen. This number rises to 61 among Donald Trump supporters.
54 percent of Republicans also think that Obama is a Muslim: this number increased to 66 percent among Donald Trump backers.

Historian Richard Hofstadter famously detailed his concerns about Right-wing extremism and broken American politics in his famous magazine article “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”. While less widely discussed, Hofstadter was also deeply concerned about how the American Right was creating an almost religious, fundamentalist worldview among its public, where conservatism was becoming an increasingly intolerant belief system that viewed those who did not practice ideological purity as heretics. For Hofstadter, American conservatism was becoming almost like a cult where orthodoxy was prized over reason, pragmatism, and a respect for consensus politics. While Hofstadter was writing about the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, he was also offering an eerily prescient description of Republican politics in the present.
Extreme political polarization and epistemic closure have nurtured a belief in conspiracy theories by Republicans because the latter are firmly cocooned within an alternate world, one where the basic rules of empirical reality and reason no longer apply. An inability to agree on basic facts reflects a state of hyper polarization among American political elites while also helping to create the broken politics that in turn nurtures the angst and rage among a not insignificant portion of the public who finds comfort in theories such as Birtherism.
As Political Scientist Joseph Uscinski shared with me in a recent conversation, both liberals and conservatives believe in conspiracy theories. The key difference lies in the conspiracies to which they subscribe.
Conspiracy theories are also a very important barometer of the public mood because they reveal the anxieties, fears, and worries felt by a given group of people in political society.
Republicans, Tea Party types, and Trump supporters in particular, have demonstrated increasing levels of authoritarianism, deep anxieties and worries about “the browning of America”, “illegal immigration”, “black crime”, and a yearning to “take back” “Real America”. These are the insecurities ginned up by the Republican Party’s post civil rights era “Southern Strategy” of white racial resentment and also overt white supremacist politics. Donald Trump is the id of movement conservatism sharpened into a knife point, laid bare, unapologetically, for the world to see.
Ultimately, Donald Trump’s appeal is social dominance behavior filtered through conspiracy theories, nativism, and white supremacy, in the guise of reality TV performance art.
This makes Trump no less dangerous to public order and the Common Good.
Donald Trump is a product of a Right-wing Fox News media that has mainstreamed old fashioned and overt white supremacy. The Right-wing media is weaponizing its public. The conspiratorial, racist, eliminationist rhetoric that Trump endorsed and encouraged in New Hampshire on Thursday is part of the same universe and logic that created the white racial terrorist Dylann Roof who killed 9 black Americans several months ago in a Charleston, North Carolina church.
The question is not if Donald Trump’s supporters will act on their violent, xenophobic, and racist intolerance, but rather when.

No comments: