16 August 2017

Some further thoughts on the Charlottesville riot

I give up.  Every time I think the Trump horror show can't get any worse, it does.  I've wondered for some time what Reagan would have thought of a Republican Presidential campaign being helped to victory by Russian meddling in a US election.  But what would Eisenhower have thought if he had seen the Nazi riot in Charlottesville and the bizarre responses to it by the current Republican occupant of the White House?

What matters in practice is what the Republicans in Congress think of what Trump said. They are the ones who have the power to impeach, since they have the majority. Once enough Republicans support impeachment to form (along with the Democrats) a simple majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate, it will happen. Every incident like this pushes some number of them a little further along toward the decision that Trump is doing the party and the country more damage than they can afford, and that they'd rather have Pence. Every incident like this is one more step toward impeachment.  In this case, it may be a large step.  Quite a few Republican leaders are publicly appalled.

Pence, however, is still trying to triangulate. He's already thinking about 2020. He knows that either Trump will be so weakened that a primary challenge will be possible, or Trump will have been impeached and he (Pence) will be running as an incumbent. Either way, he’s got to avoid pissing off the hard-core Trumpanzees too much, so he has to avoid contradicting Trump too openly.  I don't think it will work.  You don't do nuance where Nazis are concerned.

One point that Trump made does need to be addressed.  He insisted that not all the participants in the pro-statue rally were neo-Nazis or white supremacists. Even granting for the sake of argument that that’s true, all of them were OK with participating in an event with people carrying Confederate and Nazi flags. If I went to a rally and saw that, I’d turn around and leave immediately. Participation implies, at the least, a degree of approval. You just don’t do that when there are Nazis involved.  Others have long observed that while not all Trump voters were racists, they all must have felt that racism was not a deal breaker.  It's the same principle.

All over the country, extremists are feeling emboldened.  This week it was revealed that the FBI has foiled an attempt to detonate a half-ton bomb in Oklahoma City.  The would-be bomber appears to be a "survivalist" crackpot motivated by some incoherent anti-government hatred.  Along with the car attack in Charlottesville and the recent mosque bombing in Minnesota, it's a reminder that wingnut violence and terrorism are a constant threat, paralleling jihadist terrorism in Europe.

Mainstream society is pushing back, though.  After the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer posted a disgusting attack on Heather Heyer, who was killed by the Charlottesville car terrorist (you can read some of the post here, along with plenty more right-wing insanity), the site was kicked off its host GoDaddy and then from Google Domains when it tried to take refuge there.  Reactions to Trump's press conference have been almost unanimous in their revulsion and incredulity.  Rally participants are being identified and, in at least one case, fired.  Nobody wants to have any association with these people.

And as Green Eagle points out, they are operating from a position of weakness.  Dâ'ish (ISIL) runs people down with cars because that's all they have left -- the large pseudo-state they once ruled in Iraq and Syria has been mostly destroyed.  America's white supremacists had an even bigger pseudo-state from 1861 to 1865, which was destroyed; they dominated a lot of state and local governments for a century thereafter, and built the deadliest terrorist organization in US history (the KKK), which is now barely a shadow of what it once was; today, they count it a great success when they can get a few hundred people to go to a rally and drive a car into a crowd.

In a way, it's odd that the Charlottesville riot has been such a wake-up call to so many.  The Daily Stormer was neo-Nazi before it slimed Heather Heyer.  The Alt-Right was the Alt-Right before the riot.  Trump's rhetoric and his bringing people like Bannon and Gorka into his administration told us enough that no one should have been surprised at his latest flatulations.  But if this is finally waking people up -- especially those Congressional Republicans, who have the power to make impeachment a reality -- hell, I'll take it.

[Image at top found via Progressive Eruptions.]


Blogger Kevin Robbins said...

Enjoyed both the essays on Charlottesville. Not to minimize Heather Heyer's death, but it seems the grace of God there were not more deaths. I've seen photos that seem to show a heavily armed contingent. The driver himself would likely have killed more armed with a rifle. I would think anyway. Fortunate that he probably didn't go there with the intent to kill as many as he could. Not to excuse him.

Just want to add to the Reichwing's enemies list: it's blacks, Jews, gays and liberals. If we're not carrying something containing the written word we're harder to identify. I'm sure the true haters can anyway.

16 August, 2017 14:40  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Excellent observations. I've been on facebook with my brother who is a Trump supporter and who said unless I denounce BLM, I am complicit with the violence that happened in Charlottesville.

There's no arguing with people like him. No matter what I say, I will never be able to make him see the difference between what brought BLM into existence and the Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.

I'm feeling sick and disheartened with what's gone down over the past week: Jewish people in Charlottesville huddling in their synagogue last Friday as Nazis marched past it yelling "Jews will not replace us!"

Am I looking at the inevitable of what happens to democracies?

In Book VIII of his Republic, Plato uses a fictitious conversation between his teacher Socrates and Adeimantus to explain how democracies—when they become too radical—devolve into tyrannies.

16 August, 2017 16:55  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kevin: You're probably right that he could have killed more people with a gun, but I'm not sure he would have tried -- the other armed people didn't. I suspect that deep down they're cowards and afraid to face the consequences of actual murder. The guy in the car probably thought he could escape capture by driving away, not realizing that front-end damage and his license plate caught on video would identify him.

But some of these people are so out of control that I feel a little lucky whenever there isn't a mass shooting in a situation like this.

I suspect the enemies list grows steadily longer, the more time they're given to think about it.

Shaw: Anyone who can't see the huge fundamental differences between BLM and Nazis is so mentally and morally blind that he might as well be the President.

It's a horrifying spectacle, and all the more so as it makes Jewish Americans question how safe they are in their own country.

I don't believe in historical "inevitability". The future is not preordained, it's what humans make it. The Greek direct democracy of Plato's time was flawed in having no equivalent of our Constitution to protect core principles against the transient passions of the masses, and thus it sometimes produced great injustices (the exile of Themistocles comes to mind). The American Constitutional order has survived almost a quarter of a millennium, through upheavals as massive as the Civil War and World War II. Its safeguards did fail in allowing Trump to be elected, but it took a whole combination of freak circumstances to produce that result. It will survive this, unless all our better people fall into cynicism and passivity -- and given the passion people have shown from the Women's Marches to the campaign to pressure Congress into not repealing the ACA, I see no risk of that. Since Charlottesville, Nazis are being fired, ostracized, and denounced almost everywhere. We are unified against them, Trump notwithstanding.

16 August, 2017 17:25  
Anonymous PsiCop said...

Re: "What matters in practice is what the Republicans in Congress think of what Trump said."

Hmm. I'm not sure that's true. Or perhaps, it's not "directly" true. What really matters, in practice, is — instead! — are the motivations that drive Republicans in Congress and the political limitations they see. No matter how offended any of them might be by anything he says or does, none of them will impeach the Groper-in-Chief until they believe they're clear to do so. Unfortunately, nearly all of them see no viable path for that.

The reason? The GOP rank-&-file, who elected them (and the GiC) and upon whom they depend for re-election in just over a year. A massive majority of them nationwide — and far higher percentages of them in many "red" districts — still happily support the GiC. If any Congressperson takes the Apricot Wonder on in any meaningful way, s/he risks offending those folk, who may not turn out to vote for them, or who (worse, in their minds) might support some wild-eyed upstart crank who may decide to primary them and run them right out of their jobs. Which most assuredly can happen even to the most entrenched GOPer in Congress; just ask former House majority leader Eric Cantor about that.

In short, the Apricot Wonder's supporters still constitute a voting bloc with demonstrable electoral power. They can make or break people ... and they'll do so in a heartbeat. They love their GiC and they will worship him to the end of their days — no matter how infantile, incompetent, or downright criminal he may be. The Congressional GOP cannot and will not cross him — because doing so would mean crossing his raging fanbois, which their political calculus tells them they simply cannot do. No matter what the GiC does.

Re: "Even granting for the sake of argument that that’s true, all of them were OK with participating in an event with people carrying Confederate and Nazi flags."

Some of them were also chanting things like "Jews will not replace us." I submit that, also, is very much "not-OK."

Re: "Mainstream society is pushing back, though."

Unfortunately, that doesn't matter. They can push all they want ... but unless they can dismantle the GiC's supporters and the voting bloc they comprise, nothing they do will ever change a damned thing. And really, there is no way to dismantle that voting bloc. It's solid, it's committed, and via the GiC's own "fake news" propaganda campaign, inoculated against being derailed from its beliefs by anything that might ever be reported about its hero in the mass media.

Sorry to throw a wet blanket on things, but really, that's just how it is. The only way to change the GiC's voting bloc is to marginalize them — to a catastrophic degree. By that, I mean, relegate them to impotence, to the point where they no longer have any voice, and are driven away from the polls so they won't contaminate ballots any more. That can be done, if a persistent and pervasive campaign is carried out to do so. This will require the use of many different tactics. The single most obvious of them is to boycott businesses owned by GiC supporters. But other tactics (only legal ones, of course!) will have to be employed, in addition. And they'll have to be carried out in the face of a vehement (and possibly lethal) backlash.

Sorry to say, though, I don't see that there are enough Americans with enough courage, enough inventiveness, and enough persistence to enforce such a campaign and make it work. I really don't.

27 August, 2017 14:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Oh,m, I'm sure fear of a backlash from the Trumpanzees is the main reason Trump hasn't been impeached already. But remember, we only need a minority of Congressional Republicans to get impeachment done (assuming all or most Congressional Democrats support it), and quite a few are already on board. Some of them are willing to take the risk, or represent districts or states with few hard-core Trumpanzees, or they just don't care any more.

By that, I mean, relegate them to impotence, to the point where they no longer have any voice, and are driven away from the polls so they won't contaminate ballots any more.

Not really. People can be very determined and still lose elections. There's more of us than there is of them. Even a lot of Republicans are appalled at Trump.

See the rest of the paragraph beginning with "Mainstream society is pushing back, though". The real extremists are being fired from their jobs and hounded off the net. Nobody wants to support them. Unlike the broader population of even hard-core Trumpanzees, they're so few in number as to be impotent.

27 August, 2017 21:46  

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