from the ashes of fascism
TRUMP LOVES TO HATE
HENRY A. GIROUX
A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair
Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural
Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship
at Ryerson University. He is the author of more than 50 books
including The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth
Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism.
Many of his essays, including The Spectacle of Illiteracy, appear
on his website at www.henryagiroux.com.
His interview with Bill
Moyers is must viewing.
is a hate-monger, and spreads his message without apology in
almost every public encounter in which he finds himself. His
embrace of a politics is founded on arrogance, cynicism, unchecked
wealth, and a deeply ingrained racism. He stepped over the line
the moment he announced his candidacy for the presidency and
called Mexican immigrants violent rapists, gang members, and
drug dealers. Or for that matter when he called, along with
other right-wing extremists, to put refugees in to detention
centres and create a database for them.
is truly sad, alarming, and even cowardly is how few people
along with the corporate media and his intellectual defenders
recognize that Trump is symptomatic of the brutal seeds of totalitarianism
now being cultivated in American society. Donald Trump represents
more than the anti-democratic practices and antics of Joe McCarthy.
On the contrary, he signifies how totalitarianism can mutate
and take different forms in specific historical moments. Rather
than being dismissed as a wild-card in American politics, as
"careless and undisciplined," or not a true member
of the Republican Party, as some conservatives claim, it is
crucial to recognize that Trump's popularity represents a dangerous
political space that augurs a dire threat to democracy. This
is evident not only in his race baiting, his crude comments
about women, or his call to round up and deport 11 million immigrants,
but also in his increasing support for violence against protesters
at his rallies.
is a disturbing totalitarian message in his call to "make
American great again" by any means necessary, none of which
is entirely new to American society. What is new is the degree
to which this endorsement of violence, racism and the call to
violate civil liberties are expressed so visibly and without
apology. How else to explain the muted criticisms, if not almost
non-existent public and media response, to his comments that:
"we're going to have to do things that we never did before.
And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think
that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule
. . . And so we're going to have to do certain things that were
frankly unthinkable a year ago . . .” This call to do
"the unthinkable" is a fundamental principle of any
notion of totalitarianism, regardless of the form it takes.
gives legitimacy to a number of fascist policies: his appeal
to hypernationalism, disdain of human rights; defining Muslims
and immigrants as a perceived racial and religious threat; a
rampant sexism; an obsession with national security; the aggressive
mobilization of a culture of fear; the targeting of dissent
and individual groups; an endorsement of human rights abuses
such as torture; support for the ongoing militarization of public
life; the invocation of an external enemy as a threat to ‘our
way of life;’ the call for the creation of a detention
system as part of a state of emergency; support for a blind
patriotism; suspension of the rule of law; affirmation of a
belligerent masculinity; and an uncompromising imperial policy.
recent call to bring back waterboarding and to support a torture
regime far exceeds what might be called an act of stupidity
or ignorance. Torture in this instance becomes a means of exacting
revenge on those considered ‘Other,’ un-American,
and inferior — principally Muslims, immigrants, and members
of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
have heard this discourse before in the totalitarian regimes
of the 1930s and later in the dictatorships in Latin America
in the 1970s. This is a discourse that betrays dark and treacherous
secrets not simply about Trump, but more importantly about the
state of American culture and politics. Trump's brutal racism,
cruelty and Nazi-style policy recommendations are more than
shocking, they are emblematic of totalitarianism's hatred of
liberalism, its call for racial purity, its mythic celebration
of nationalism, its embrace of violence, its disdain for weakness
and its anti-intellectualism. This is the discourse of total
terror. These elements of fascism have become the new American
normal. The conditions that produced the torture chambers, intolerable
violence, extermination camps, squelching of dissent are still
with us. Totalitarianism is not simply a relic of the past.
It lives on in new forms and it is just as terrifying and dangerous
today as it was in the past.