The above, and all like it, are being normalized as you read this. There’s an almost feverish desperation in the attempts at normalizing Trump, his appalling choices for the cabinet, his complete lack of policies, his complete lack of knowledge and experience, and his openly bigoted, violent fans. The core of white supremacy is being steadfastly ignored, as is the fact that America has gone fascist. As Giliell pointed out:
Yes, and it’s going to get normalised. I studied my country’s history well. Nobody would have stood for the Reichspogromnacht in 1933 and people just thought that it wasn’t too bad. By 1938 they cheered on as the Synagogues burned.
We’re right there, right now. I’m already seeing people deflecting in an attempt to ignore what’s happening right in front of them; people are continuing to talk about how liberals and minorities must build bridges; people are busily trying to convince themselves and everyone else that everything will be fine, nothing unusual at all, no. There’s even an attempt by people trying to say just how good a Trump presidency will be for women. A little reminder here:
We’ll start with Alternet. This is going to be a long post, so grab your drink of choice.
Throughout the election, critics often savaged the media for “normalizing Trump,” broadly defined as the act of treating his rank sexism, xenophobia and fascist dog-whistles as just another policy difference against equally valid opponents. This trend, borne largely by a combination of cognitive dissonance and access, is being accelerated now that Trump has won the election, and its continuation, if left unchecked, could undermine opposition for years to come.
Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, said Trump’s recent visit to the White House gave her “hope” and suggested he has been “humbled” by the experience.
Oprah has hope. Oh well, that makes everything okeyfuckingdokey, doesn’t it? A chat show host with more money than Trump, who lives an incredibly insulated life, so far removed from the average person, she may as well be on another planet. What do you suppose they chatted about, how their servants can best clean their gold-plated faucets? Unfortunately, all manner of Americans will swallow this shit pill whole, easing their minds it will all be okay because Oprah. She’s black, y’know, so really, it’s okay. It is not okay, and if you find yourself ignoring reality and putting all your ability to think aside in favour of what a chat host has said, you are one big part of the problem, and will be adding substantially to the dark days ahead.
The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins told his readers to “calm down” and that Trump wasn’t the “worst thing.” His college, Nouriel Roubini, insisted the Oval Office will “tame” Trump. People magazine ran a glowing profile of Trump and his wife Melania (though a former People writer accused Trump of sexual assault). The New York Times’ Nick Kristof dubiously added that we should “Grit our teeth and give Trump a chance.” The mainstays—Washington Post, New York Times and CNN—while frequently critical, are coving Trump’s transition as they would any other. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all issued statements recognizing Trump’s legitimacy and pleading we give him a chance.
Overall there’s a creeping sense that we’re stuck with Trump and we should make it “work” in some type of do-goody liberal appeal to patriotism.
That do-goody liberal appeal has already been in action for some time now. This notion that white liberals really need to make nice with all the Trumpoids, and build bridges. That we need to understand them. Most of you have already read my response to that one. Bigotry is not complex. “Fuck all you liberal niggers Die” is not complicated and nuanced. White supremacy is not complex, and it’s not nuanced either, in spite of what some people would have you believe. Misogyny is not complex or nuanced either. All those things are plain and simple, and they are what we are being bombarded with right now. The spike in hate crimes is now larger and more intense than it was after 9/11. Think about that for a minute, really think about it.
The overall message of normalizing Trump is that you can steamroll women, LGBT people, the disabled, Muslims, and people of color, yet everything will be okay so long as you win. Indeed, when asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far, Trump responded, “No, I won.” This is the logic of a fascist, and liberals are acquiescing to him by pivoting to “Trump as our kooky uncle” normalization mode.
“No, I won.” That’s almost tailor made to appeal to Americans, for whom many there is nothing more important than winning. The message this gives to bigots and white supremacists is a deeper one. They not only feel emboldened, they feel in power and protected. They can do whatever they like, because they have the presidential seal of approval. This goes for sexual assault as well. There have already been cases where a grade school age boy has grabbed a grade school age girl by the crotch, stating it’s okay because the president said so. Children in kindergarten are being attacked, by classmates and adults. Basically, it’s open season on anyone who is not a white conservative Christian.
Had Trump lost, he would likely have been cast out of proper company, left to build his own Breitbart-like brand operating on the margins of acceptable opinion. Influential and profitable to be sure, but not mainstream. Political principles, to say nothing of morality, should not shift based on the outcome of an election. If Trump was a vulgar racist and sexual predator before November 8, he still is after, regardless of his new position.
This is something else you need to think about, hard. Really think about this. This points to just how much civil rights were rejected, how much simmering resentment has been bubbling and increasing as that resentment has been passed on down through the decades. That’s not news to minority people, but white Americans aren’t very good at listening to minority people. In an earlier post, I mentioned growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, and watching the gradual rise of white, Christian conservatism. Every decade, that white wall became worse, more poisonous, more determined to get back full colonial control of everyone and everything. We’ve suffered through bad elections before, and we should have learned some lessons. We didn’t though. “All Mexicans are rapists.” “Grab ’em by the pussy.” There’s no nuance there. In spite of the constant stream of such poison, there was a terrible complacency on the left side. As is the case with most elections in this country, a whole lot of white liberals figured on other people to do the heavy lifting, leaving them free to either vote their spite, indulge their fantasy of a third party win, or coast along on their indifference. So fascism waltzed its way in the door. This election could not possibly have been more binary, but you had a lot of people pretending it wasn’t.
My one ambition is to get all Americans to realize that they are, and must continue to be, the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth, and second, to realize that whatever apparent differences there may be among us, in wealth, knowledge, skill, ancestry or strength–though, of course, all this does not apply to people who are racially different from us–we are all brothers, bound together in the great and wonderful bond of National Unity, for which we should all be very glad.
The above is spoken by Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip in Sinclair Lewis’s 1936 novel It Can’t Happen Here. Once elected, President Windrip appealed directly to his core constituency of unprosperous and resentful white men to help him repress dissent and bring fascism to America.* Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We are already seeing claims by open white bigots that the real hate crime is against them.
New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait insisted the people shouldn’t denounce Trump the day after the election because it was “a little soon.” Too soon? Given the stakes, one is compelled to ask, why wait?
Israel has already signaled it will expand settlements with the blessing of the president-elect. The cabinet looks like it will be stuffed with unqualified Trump cronies. Virulently anti-poor people Paul Ryan has effectively been put in charge of budget priorities and is floating Medicare cuts. A climate change denier is selecting the head of the EPA. Why wait to use every available avenue to undermine Trump on the altar of civility?
The left can only combat Trump by leveraging both its political and activist wings, not indulging in Sorkinesque gestures of “working together.”
Absolutely right, which is why I do not want to hear or read anymore about how much liberals must reach out to the fascists. No. No, I will not make nice with people who think my people should be dead. I will not make nice with people who want to fully dehumanize all those who are not white conservative Christians, stripping them of the human rights we should all have in this so-called land of the free. I will not make nice with people who think “law and order” means stomping on people of colour with impunity. I will not make nice with people who don’t really have much of a problem with lynching or stoning people to death. And yes, a number of people comprising the new cabinet believe in that good ol’ testament way of doing, stoning. I won’t make nice with anyone who thinks of women as bodies up for grabs. I won’t make nice with people who think killing faggots is a great idea. One more time I will say these people do not want niceness, they don’t want to be understood. They want to stand on top of a pile of bodies, crowning themselves king, they want obeisance and submission. It’s going to be a long, hellish time, and Americans aren’t good at long term attention or commitment. Those are going to be required however, if we are going to make it through this without just giving tacit permission for the rise of Nazierica, because that’s what we are looking at. For all those committed to Trump, this country has already ceased to be America. Have you been paying attention to all the vandalism? It’s always Trump Land, Trump World or Trump Nation, like this is an amusement park or reality show. We’re in a fight, for our lives, and yes, for our country, what little of it remains at this point.
Think Progress has also been covering the normalization:
Gleichschaltung: The forced standardization of political and social institutions under an authoritarian regime. Learn from history, do not be a part of this. Resist.