Protest

The increase in violence at Donald Trump’s rallies of late has tongues wagging and writers furiously pounding the keys. It is indeed disquieting at the very least. Trump himself swears he is opposed to violence even though he is on record as encouraging his followers to hit those who protest at his rallies. He’s even promised to pay their fines! His apologists on Fox News are calling for more violence against the protesters who are blamed for the violence. We now have the interesting scenario of those who hit and those being hit both claiming to be innocent. Sounds like the NFL! Trump, as is his style, blames everyone else, including Bernie Sanders and the president, for the violence that has erupted at his rallies. Now there’s paranoia and delusion together in a most interesting mix.

But the reports of a woman standing quietly at his rallies with a peace sign being roughly escorted from the place, conservative reporters who merely seek answers to obvious questions being grabbed by Trump’s right-hand man and nearly thrown to the ground — and Trump later saying the woman is “delusional” and “made the whole thing up” — or blacks in the crowd who report that they are shouted at (the “n” word) and glowered at simply for being present and even struck by Trump followers as the so-called “protesters” are led (again forcefully) from the arena, all lead one to suspect that the tendency of Donald Trump to encourage this sort of violence is the root cause of the entire problem.

To be sure, it takes two to have a fight, but when one side becomes violent because those who disagree with them are merely present this suggests that the tendency is already there and that the violence is simply a matter of course. It’s not hard to see which foot the shoe fits in this case. But the larger question is: why is this man so afraid of listening to those who oppose him? Or, more to the point, why is this man afraid to even allow those who oppose him to be present at his rallies? One does begin to realize that this man has a very thin skin indeed. Further, he is a bully and filled with hatred toward those who might happen to think he is wrong. He is never wrong — in his own mind at least — and it is the “true believers” like him who are most dangerous. Their minds are closed tighter than traps; they are convinced they have all the answers and that the ends justify any means whatever.

But, again, why this brew-ha-ha over protest? This country is founded on protest. It is not only protected by the First Amendment, it is the very life-blood of this country, the very thing our forefathers died to protect. The fact that the man, Donald Trump, fears those who protest against him is a sign of his stunted personality. The fact that his followers are quick to follow his lead and strike out against those who represent opposing views suggests another pathology. It suggests that there are those among us, growing numbers in fact, who are willing to follow wherever they are led. The world has seen such followers before and the damage and destruction they have left in their wake is clear for all to see. This is what is so disturbing about the violence at the political rallies of late. It’s not about the lies and delusion the leader exhibits — though this is indeed unsettling — it’s about the growing number of folks in this country who buy into his confused and even conflicting ideas and are wiling to swear allegiance to someone who wants only power for himself and uses others simply to guarantee that the power belongs to him and to him alone.

Protest is a good thing. It is absolutely necessary in a democracy if the system is to remain vital. As Thomas Jefferson said the country needs a revolution every fourteen years. Anyone who doesn’t see this is blind to history and fails to understand what a democracy is all about. But violence is not a good thing and it is not a necessary thing either. That one should lead to the other, as it has done in this case, must give us all pause.

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9 thoughts on “Protest

  1. A true leader would come down hard to prevent violence. This man not only condones it, but promotes it. By itself, that should disqualify him as a candidate, end of story.

    Very few would call George W. Bush a great president, but here in Charlotte when a man asked him a very difficult question and was booed at a fundraiser, Bush quieted the cried and said the man deserved the right to speak.

  2. Oddly and unfortunately, we could have nominees in the two major parties who, combined, possess a lot of traits of the last really paranoid, thin-skinned president, Nixon. Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problem — the simple fact that she had a separate e-mail server in the first place and her initial responses when it was learned: “trust me, nothing was compromised,” and “we’ll release what we think the public needs to see” — still trouble me. Whenever a politician or public official says, “trust me, it’s for the public good if I do it this way,” we should automatically not trust them. History, especially American history from the end of WWII to today, teaches that. There’s often been a paranoid aspect to Clinton, but to her credit she is actively trying to improve on it — to be more open and communicate better.

    Trump, on the other hand, has also long had that paranoid streak that so often leads to hyper-control-freak behavior. And, as he campaigns, it’s worsening, magnifying. It seems like he’s already making an enemies list, at least mentally, and he wields it at campaigns or on social media against reporters he doesn’t like. The violent responses by his followers to the protesters resembles that of the formative Nazi scrums of the 1920s — anonymous slugging and beating within big crowds (only now some are caught on camera) — as well as the thuggery of the Nixon and Richard Daley cops and other followers in the late 1960s-early 1970s. And Trump doesn’t even come close to the one saving grace Nixon possessed — a genuine understanding of the complexities of foreign policy, and a willingness to work with our Cold War enemies, not further alienate them. (Granted, Nixon had Kissinger at his side and an eye on history when he met the Soviets and Chinese, but he still did meet them.)

  3. Thomas Jefferson also said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”.

    • Per quanto riguarda C o C++ consiglio i volumi dei fratelli Deitel della collana Apogeo Education (Deitel & Deitel).Ma non erano padre e fi?€goâl¦iMi hai fatto venire il dubbio ^^ mi sa che hai ragione.. (io ho un fratello.. mi sarò confuso per questo, anche se non siamo i Deitel menzionati ) stasera controllo e nel caso aggiorno grazie ancora

  4. This recent post about violence at rallies held for The Donald brings to mind a question touched upon in several of Dr. Curtler’s posts, namely, “Is Donald Trump a fascist?”

    The simplistic answers to this question could be either, “Yes, of course’, or “No, of course not.” I find that many on the Left tend to answer this query in the affirmative; those on the right answer in the negative. The difficulty is that few seem willing to actually explain what they mean by the term “Fascism”.

    Without at least some analytical effort, calling someone a fascist is nothing more than an ad hominem criticism, a modern epithet used to attack rather than to critique. It can and should be dismissed for that reason alone. However, I am not recommending that we dismiss all talk of whether a particular politician is a fascist, but I am suggesting that we take the question more seriously.

    What, then, can we mean when we talk about whether Donald Trump, or anyone else, is a fascist? There are several possibilities.

    (1) Self-declaration: Mr. Trump does not refer to himself as a fascist. By this standard, he is not a fascist.

    (2) Party affiliation: Mr. Trump is not a member of a formally declared fascist party. To my knowledge, no such-named party exists in the United States; no such-named party has ever held political power in this country. By this standard. Mr. Trump could not be a fascist.

    (3) Policies: Here one might think we are on firmer ground in referring to Mr. Trump as a fascist, yet what makes them fascistic? The first and foremost difficulty is that Mr. Trump has been pretty consistent in not saying very much than be can be construed as policy — or even as a coherent statement, for that matter. To be sure, a proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, like a proposal to build The Great Wall of Donald, is both bigoted and xenophobic, but is it fascist? Again, how would we know? Lacking any standard by which to carry out an evaluation, one cannot simply conclude that The Donald is a fascist just because he speaks like a bigoted xenophobe.

    (4) Thematic characteristics: A focus on the thematic characteristics of fascism, based upon historical analyses of fascist movements, parties, policies, and rhetoric seems to me, at least, to provide the best way forward in any assessment of whether a politician can meaningfully referred to as a fascist. What is required to begin with is a set of typical characteristics of fascism to which the rhetoric and policies of a specific politician can be analytically compared. A plausible list of such characteristics is presented below.

    CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM

    On June 27, 1995, Umberto Eco published an extraordinary article in the New York Review of Books — its title, “Ur-Fascism”. Based upon an historical analyses of fascist parties and politics in Europe, the author laid out a number of key characteristics of fascism. The result nicely approximates what social historian Max Weber referred to as an “ideal type”, that is, a set of logical characteristics derived from historical study to which a variety of real events and actions can be compared for purposes of analysis. According to Eco, these are the defining elements of fascism, in paraphrased and somewhat abbreviated form.

    (1) A cult of national tradition; a call to return to greatness.
    (2) A rejection of modern ideas of rationality, science, justice, equality, human rights, and fairness.
    (3) Irrationalism — action for the sake of action and a commitment to just do something, anything, to change the situation.
    (4) Treating dissent and disagreement as moral betrayal or treason.
    (5) Fear of difference; xenophobia
    (6) Appeal to generalized frustrations and unhappiness.
    (7) Blaming specific groups for widespread social problems; scapegoating and bigotry.
    (8) Militarism and a contempt for weakness, notably in the forms of diplomacy and peace-seeking; glorification of “our” wars and “our” warriors.
    (9) Celebration of heroism and a cult of personality.
    (10) Sexism and gender domination by males of females; re-traditionalization of the modern female (anti-feminism); nostalgia for gender roles in traditional families and communities .
    (11) Selective populism; anger and resentment focused upon specific elites — political leaders, intellectuals, financiers, bankers, the media, etc.
    (12) New speak; developing a new jargon to identify and edify the political movement, its policies, or State.
    (13) A complete rejection of any criticism or open discourse about about the leader, the movement, the Party or the State; demonization of and assaults (of various types) upon one’s critics.

    Granting for purposes of this exercise that these characteristics give us a point of reference for understanding the term “fascism”, what remains is an effort to analyze the actions and rhetoric of the political actors to determine to what extent they might be considered fascist. This necessarily would be a relative assessment. Those whose actions and rhetoric manifest a greater number of these ‘ur-fascistic’ characteristics would be deemed “relatively more fascistic” than those whose actions and rhetoric would be deemed “relatively less fascistic because they display fewer of these characteristics..

    We can thus arrive not at an absolute assessment, but rather at as comparative assessment of the extent to which someone manifests these characteristics. I will not use this space to carry out a complete analysis of the question of whether Mr. Trump is a fascist. I will however suggest a possible strategy and offer a preliminary response based upon my own study of the matter from the perspective of a social scientist and researcher.

    If one were to examine the actions, proposed policies, and rhetoric of the two leading candidates in both political parties, one could arrive at a comparative assessment of which party’s candidates were relatively more fascist. This would lead one first to examine the proposed policies and the political speeches of Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, Mr. Trump, and Senator Cruz and then to compare those policies and positions to the characteristics of “Ur-Fascism” as suggested by Umberto Eco.

    I offer but two preliminary suggestions:

    (1) One will find few indications of fascism in the policies and rhetorical positions of either Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders. The closest one will come is the emphasis upon populist anger and resentment against financiers and political and economic elites in the rhetoric of Senator Sanders. To a lesser extent, this has become more evident in the rhetoric of Secretary Clinton, as well.

    (2) One will find ample evidence of ALL of the characteristics of fascism in the policies and political rhetoric of BOTH Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz.To some extent, though he is the more well-behaved and articulate (actually because he is more articulate one can comprehend what he is saying), Senator Cruz’s political positions may be a bit more fully fascistic than those of Mr. Trump. [BTW: This is less the case with Governor Kasich or, for that matter, Senator Rubio.]

    Do I mean to say that The Donald is a fascist? Do I mean to say that Senator Cruz is a fascist? My answer is “No” on both counts. I regard both the question and the answers as simplistic.

    What I am saying is that IF one uses the scheme of Ur-Fascism laid out here AND IF one carries out a thoughtful analysis of the policies and rhetoric (and even some of the behaviors) of Messrs. Trump and Cruz, THEN one will be likely to find many of the historical elements of fascism embedded in their politics.

    I am not asking you to take my word for this. I am asking you to take the time to carry out the analysis and decide for yourself. On a related topic, one might also inquire into why certain groups of people find such political rhetoric appealing, for political communication is only meaningful to the extent it is received, is meaningful, and is acted upon.

    I make these suggestions because I believe elemental fascism is alive and well in our body politic — and it has been for quite some time. I do not presume others would (or should) automatically agree with me on this last point. I ask only that it be considered a meaningful focus of discussion and be taken seriously.

    That is what I have tried to do here.

    • Well done. I also raised this question and, drawing on some things said by Dylan Matthews, concluded that the Trumpet is not a fascist, strictly speaking, but he has definite fascist tendencies — given his paranoia, xenophobia and tendency to blame others for his mistakes. According to Matthews, the fact that the Trumpet has not advoctated the violent overthrow of this government saves him from the charge—-barely. [See, Is Trump A Fascist?]

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