Monday, February 29, 2016

America's fascist moment

So, here we are on Feb. 29, 2016.

The presumably putative Republican presidential nominee, de-facto fascist Donald Trump, refuses to outright repudiate the support of noted white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, feigning an ignorance of Duke that he certainly does not possess. And, in light of this, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, had a question:

"I mean, is he really so stupid that he thinks Southerners aren't offended by the Ku Klux Klan? Is he really so ignorant of Southern voters that he thinks this is the way to their heart -- to go neutral, to play Switzerland when you're talking about the Klan!?"

I THINK Scarborough overestimates the virtue of Southern voters and underestimates the moral rot that has hollowed out the United States. If what Scarborough says is true, Trump would go down in flames tomorrow, "Super Tuesday," where most of the primary states are in the South.

He won't.

The candidate who also favorably retweeted a quote by Benito Mussolini will sweep through the South and all but lock up the Republican nomination. Listen, a Louisiana cousin of mine once actually said on Facebook, during a dust-up over banishing Confederate symbolism from the public square, "Sadly, the South lost the war." The Civil War.

And polling in the wake of Trump's overwhelming victory in the South Carolina GOP primary reveals that Southerners like my Confederate-loving kinfolk are far from isolated basket cases in the region's sociopolitical economy:
Mr. Trump’s support among those who say they support a temporary ban on Muslim entry into the United States — a notion Mr. Trump first advanced in early December — is significant. He won more than twice as many supporters of the ban in South Carolina as any other candidate. Voters often echo the things candidates say on the campaign trail, so that level may not be revelatory.

Possibly more surprising are the attitudes of Mr. Trump’s supporters on things that he has not talked very much about on the campaign trail. He has said nothing about a ban on gays in the United States, the outcome of the Civil War or white supremacy. Yet on all of these topics, Mr. Trump’s supporters appear to stand out from the rest of Republican primary voters.

Data from Public Policy Polling show that a third of Mr. Trump’s backers in South Carolina support barring gays and lesbians from entering the country. This is nearly twice the support for this idea (17 percent) among Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s voters and nearly five times the support of John Kasich’s and Ben Carson’s supporters (7 percent).

Similarly, YouGov data reveal that a third of Mr. Trump’s (and Mr. Cruz’s) backers believe that Japanese internment during World War II was a good idea, while roughly 10 percent of Mr. Rubio’s and Mr. Kasich’s supporters do. Mr. Trump’s coalition is also more likely to disagree with the desegregation of the military (which was ordered in 1948 by Harry Truman) than other candidates’ supporters are.

The P.P.P. poll asked voters if they thought whites were a superior race. Most Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 78 percent — disagreed with this idea (10 percent agreed and 11 percent weren’t sure). But among Mr. Trump’s supporters, only 69 percent disagreed. Mr. Carson’s voters were the most opposed to the notion (99 percent), followed by Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz’s supporters at 92 and 89 percent. Mr. Rubio’s backers were close to the average level of disagreement (76 percent).

According to P.P.P., 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.

Nationally, further analyses of the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.

Mr. Trump’s popularity with white, working-class voters who are more likely than other Republicans to believe that whites are a supreme race and who long for the Confederacy may make him unpopular among leaders in his party. But it’s worth noting that he isn’t persuading voters to hold these beliefs. The beliefs were there — and have been for some time.
SO, WE AGAIN come to the question at hand: How have we come to this moment in American history? How have we arrived at the point where the party of Abraham Lincoln is about to nominate a fascist vulgarian as its candidate for president of the United States?

The correct answer probably is the most obvious one. Moral rot, elite decadence and economic hardship had turned an electoral majority of Germans into willing Nazis by 1933, and the same factors in 2016 likewise have unleashed the American Id.

It is our very own, all-American fascist moment, summoned forth like a demon within -- not by an exorcist delivering it to the wrath of a holy God but, instead, by a megalomaniac desiring to channel the darkness for his own malevolent ends.

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