“He has been glorified as a hero and obeyed as a ruler, but fundamentally he is always the same. His most fantastic triumphs have taken place in our own time, among people who set great store by the idea of humanity. He is not yet extinct, nor will he ever be until we have the strength to see him clearly, whatever disguise he assumes and whatever his halo of glory. The survivor is mankind’s worst evil, its curse and perhaps its doom. Is it possible to escape him, even now at this last moment?”—Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
“[White] America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago. Uncle Sam has no conscience. They don’t know what morals are. They don’t try and eliminate an evil because it’s evil, or because it’s illegal, or because it’s immoral; they eliminate it only when it threatens their existence. So you’re wasting your time appealing to the moral conscience of a bankrupt man like Uncle Sam. If he had a conscience, he’d straighten this thing out with no more pressure being put upon him…And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built, and the only way it’s going to be built—is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone—I don’t care what color you are—as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”—Malcolm X, Oxford Union Debate, 1964
Canettii argues in his book that the most dangerous individual holding power is someone who views him/herself as a Survivor, or someone who can survive at the expense of others. Canetti notes that the Survivor, with access to nuclear weapons, can obliterate a hefty chunk of mankind. The president of the United States, as commander in chief, has the option to use those weapons presumably only under the most dire of circumstances. President Donald Trump’s proximity to the nuclear weapons trigger has been noted with trepidation by non-military observers from the beginning of his presidency and that matter is always lurking in the background, particularly as the US modernizes its Nuclear Triad. But the checks and balances in the use of the Nuclear Triad can’t be discounted as it is likely that military commanders would refuse to carry out Trump’s orders to use nukes even in spite of revised doctrine appearing to make it easier to do so.
The bigger problem, according to Canetti, is this: “Today, the survivor is himself afraid. He has always been afraid, but with his vast new potentialities his fear has grown too, until it is almost unendurable…The most unquestioned and therefore the most dangerous thing he does is to give commands.”
Trump’s world is a paranoid one. His apologists and supporters are loons. How else to describe those that refuse to condemn, even approve, racist presidential behavior. Trump and his disciples act as if they have survived some horrific mentally debilitating event; or indeed, expect one in the form of a color shift in America’s complexion.
They fear the majority of the popular American electorate, they fear immigrants, they fear people of color, they fear LGBTs, they fear government funded social programs, they fear the questioning of their beliefs, and they fear non-Christians—and that’s just for starters.
Didn’t evolution weed these viruses out decades ago?
Trump and his disciples view themselves as a persecuted minority and that’s dangerous because they really believe they are. The statistics, the demographics, show that Whites make up the largest chunk of the American population with Hispanics second at 18.3 percent and Blacks at 13.4 percent. Trump’s people are horrified at the prospect that America will turn a light tinge of brown, which it inevitably will, by the 2050s and beyond.
Making amends with corporation and the financial sector
Trump is Canetti’s Survivor, a hustler. He managed to game the legal and financial system to stay afloat, always getting rescued/supported by “his kind” for boneheaded business decisions and now for slashing US federal spending and regulations that protect the American public, turning the US federal government into a bigger playground for corporations, businesses and interest groups (something corporations welcome with glee).
The Washington Post reported in 2016 that Trump declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times; four in the 1990s and two in the 2000s. In 2004, Trump’s Hotel and Casinos Resorts was $1.8 billion in debt and couldn’t meet its obligations.
So why do the corporate powerhouses of America stick with Trump even though he is a real estate swindler, racist and psychopath?
That’s simple, he is a repaying the corporate/financial world back for robbing them of billions years ago by giving them trillions now. He, and his Republican/Democrat apologists in the US Congress, slashed corporate/business tax rates, and they are now pillaging federal programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) for budget cuts or elimination, ostensibly to save American taxpayers some money. Trump wants to drop 3.1 million people from SNAP.
It is the same story at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the publication Mother Jones, “On Wednesday [July 18], the United States Environmental Protection Agency doubled down on one of the most controversial environmental deregulation moves of the Trump presidency… the EPA reaffirmed its 2017 decision to reject a proposal from the agency’s own scientists to ban an insecticide called chlorpyrifos that farmers use on a wide variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli, and cauliflower.”
And why would Trump be interested in chlorpyrifos that has been shown to be detrimental to children’s brain development? “Dow AgroSciences’ parent company, Dow Chemical, has also been buttering up Trump. The company contributed $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee… the administration has approved the Dow-Dupont merger, and named several former Dow execs to high posts within the US Department of Agriculture,” Mother Jones reported.
Trump’s supporters: Theory of evolution apologizes profusely
Trump lands uppercuts and left hooks to the American body politic and culture by ignorant Tweets that stoke racial tensions and non-partisanship.
Just how does a racist grifter, who tells four Democratic congresswomen—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY; Ilhan Omar, D-MN; Ayanna Pressley, D-MA; and Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, to go back to their “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” manage to win the support of millions of Americans and bump up Trump’s poll numbers? Or why did 187 US House members vote not to condemn Trump’s beliefs?
According to Pew Research, polling results for the 2016 election indicate that “Among the much larger group of white voters who had not completed college (44% of all voters), Trump won by more than two-to-one (64% to 28%)… Trump had an advantage among 50-to 64-year-old voters (51% to 45%) and those 65 and older (53% to 44%).”
And it is not just those who have not completed college or even attended college who are party of Trump’s looney bin. Wealthy “smart” Republicans are part of the evolutionary mishap, as well. Republican CEOs side with Trump because he is helping them increase profit margins, shareholder dividends, and stock buybacks. What’s all the fuss about a president of the United States who is both a racist and pro-business? It is, after all, just another write-off for the books.
According to a paper, titled The Politics of CEOs, “We use Federal Election Commission (FEC) records to put together a comprehensive database of the political contributions made by over 3,500 individuals who served as CEOs of S&P 1500 companies during the period 2000-2017.We find that these political contributions display substantial partisan preferences in support of Republican candidates.To highlight the significance of CEOs partisan preferences for some corporate decisions, we show that public companies led by Republican CEOs tend to be less transparent to investors with respect to their political spending.”
Senate and House Republicans, morally bankrupt to the core, are marching to the beat of a racist drummer.
Democrats: Remember your ugly history
The Democrats don’t get a pass on racial issues. There’s a lot for them to answer for as well.
Writing in The Hill, Burgess Owens notes that, “As a party with a history of pro-slavery, pro-secession, pro-segregation and pro-socialism, the Democratic Party has also been the party that has politically controlled urban black America for over 60 years. Predominantly black communities in many cities today are mired in poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and hopelessness. The Democratic Party has never apologized for its past, nor has it attempted to atone for its present failures.
Instead, it has skillfully used the art of bait-and-switch. Millions of Americans are convinced that somehow in the 1960s there was a wholesale transition of the Democratic Party’s two-centuries-old hatred of black people to the policies of the anti-slavery, anti-secession, anti-segregation and pro-God Republican Party. Only in a vacuum void of common sense, critical-thinking skills and true American history could such logic survive.”
Trump channels Republican Lee Atwater
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater, known for his brutal, but successful, campaigning for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, commented on flipping the Southern United States from racist Dixiecrats (Democrats) to, well, racist Republicans. Gone were the days of vulgar racist comments by Whites, and in came the days of using coded terms for racist policies.
In an interview with Atwater for a book on Southern party politics in 1981, while employed by the Reagan administration, Atwater was asked this: “But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the [George] Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?”
Atwater responded: “Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying… By 1968 you can’t say… that hurts you. Backfires. You say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than… So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone.”
And the beat goes on 38 years later.
Not all whites
Many Whites have stood on the ramparts with people of color and other minorities to fight for equal rights and liberties. White judges and politicians have rendered decisions or passed legislation to turn the tide against racism in the USA. I’m not guilty of my Whiteness as I argued in White and Guilty of the Crime of History? in2015.
I know of no one, young or old, that likes to be pigeon-holed no matter their color, immigrant status, or their ethnic background. No one wins this type of blame game except the racists in Trump’s camp who fan the flames of fear or those who mock the individuality of each human being.
So why are there racists out there in the open, in the White House, Congress, corporations and the voting public? What can be done about it?
I posed that question in 2015. I mean, should I attribute the sins of the world to whiteness? Or should I conclude that the species itself and the dominant economic and ruling methodology of capitalism combine to make the “demon” that Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to and the “system” that Malcolm X wants us all to change: That American system, born largely of the British, Roman and Greek Systems, that relies on absurd contradictions and irony. A system that makes those from NWA and Straight Out of Compton, with all the female bashing lyrics, now part of the One Percent elite of corporate America; or the principals of the George W. Bush administration clearly guilty of war crimes still cashing in on public office; or the poor and largely Black people that can’t make $500 bail and waste away in jail; or the White miners in West Virginia killed because the mining company ignored safety rules and is found not guilty of negligence on a legal technicality; or the citizens of Detroit City denied, by a lone judge, the right to clean drinking water.
And what should I make of an American society that does not care about corporate surveillance (for profit) and government monitoring of all forms of communication (to maintain security and stability for the corporations to make profits)? Where were the White Rockers, Black Rappers, and Country Music stars when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on or the beach head for the corporate and government’s invasion of privacy was the home?
They, all of them, were co-opted by a political, economic and cultural system we deny every day but in which we also live, procreate, operate and profit. With all of our complaints, we don’t have a functional alternative to offer. The ballot-box provides no remedy. Presidential and Congressional elections are polluted by money and interests, foreign and domestic, over which voters have no control. Politicians are bought and sold like horses prior to a race.
I don’t think I’m White. I think I am a human being. I don’t know what it is like to be rich and in the top 20 percent of money makers in the USA. I know that I’m color-labeled as White and class-labeled as Middle by the identity and false consciousness hunters that roam the American landscape.
I know I agree with Dave Chappelle, famed comedian with $10 million in the bank, who is labeled as Black and Wealthy. But I’m not a smart guy and I think that he is a human being and really funny guy with great observations of the human condition. I think that way of George Carlin, Chris Rock and the late Robin Williams. According to Chappelle “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: To what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?”
I don’t want to participate in the self-image, the evolutionary mishap, that is President Donald Trump, his apologists and his supporters. I also don’t want to deal with duplicitous Democrats who always seem ready to enable Trump’s foolishness.
It seems to me there is no vocal, turbulent opposition to the madness that permeates the United States of America these days. Who inspires any longer? Who can compromise?
Who will fight?
John Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His last book was Trump & Friends.