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Issue #1716      January 27, 2016

Taking Issue – Rob Gowland

Fascism over the White House?

The most boorish of the clutch of Republican Party candidates for President in the next US elections is unquestionably Donald Trump. A billionaire, Trump has all the arrogance that goes with such colossal wealth, but he combines it with a public posture as an oafish larrikin, openly embracing the crudest racist rhetoric. Reflecting the Republican Party’s long-term flirtation with the extreme Right, Trump is now the front-runner to be the Republican choice to run for President to replace Obama when his term in the White House ends on January 17, 2017.

Like all demagogues, instead of dealing with the very real problems confronting ordinary Americans, Trump chooses instead to focus on giving them someone to hate, in the process scape-goating people who are in no way responsible for the USA’s very serious economic and social crises. Indeed, Trump’s racist outbursts are intended to divert people’s attention away from the corporations and the ultra-rich who are the real causes of the US people’s present sorry position.

Initially he singled out Mexicans as his target, identifying as “Mexicans” all Latin American people trying to escape from poverty by gaining entry to the supposedly prosperous USA. He has no sympathy for their plight, labelling them all as drug-traffickers, gun-runners or worse. That the poverty south of the US border is largely the result of US corporations exploiting the people, resources and economies of those countries and of US governments over many years interfering in their internal affairs to boost US corporate power and profit does not concern him at all.

His only concern is making sure his racism has a suitable target. Hitler began with Jews but moved on to include Gypsies and ultimately the much more numerous Slavs. Trump has similarly expanded his racist rhetoric to include attacks on African-Americans (those who dare to take to the streets in demonstrations against police killings under the banner “Black Lives Matter”) and of course extraordinarily vulgar attacks on Muslims, all of whom are apparently terrorists.

Also like Hitler, Trump is pitching his campaign at middle class and working class whites who feel they have somehow missed out on the “American Dream” they were promised a share in. That the poor in the US would look to a billionaire racist to solve their problems and be sympathetic to their plight is no more strange than that exploited Australian workers would look to a millionaire merchant banker to solve theirs. Neither Malcolm Turnbull nor Donald Trump is interested in lifting the people of their respective countries out of poverty.

They are only interested in one thing: boosting corporate profit and making the rich richer. And they’re not too particular about how they do that.

It is sometimes hard for Australians to comprehend just how all-pervasive is racism in the USA. I encountered a taxi-driver in the USSR who had had a couple of American tourists, husband and wife, in his cab. A young chap who spoke excellent English, he had asked these two Americans whether he would be able to get a job if he went to the USA.

They were fulsome in their assurances that he would have no problem. They told him that “there was no unemployment in the US”, that the only people who were unemployed were “Niggers who were too lazy to work”. He was dreadfully embarrassed when we explained that the N-word was not used in polite company.

Curious, we enquired about his US tourists. They had happily told him what they did for a living: she was psychiatrist in private practice in New York, he was a corporate head-hunter in the same city. You can imagine what their combined weekly fees would have been. Their understanding of how Black Americans actually lived in New York, or indeed anywhere else in the USA, would have been negligible. They were before Donald Trump’s time, but his policies would surely have suited them down to the ground.

Trump is one of those Americans who believe that Barack Obama should never have been elected President because he “wasn’t born in the USA”. These people believe the racist rumour that was floated as soon as Obama was nominated, to the effect that he was a Muslim born in Kenya. Despite Obama producing his birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii, these people prefer to believe that somehow that document is a fake, part of some “liberal conspiracy”.

It’s called the “birther” movement and Donald Trump is a fiercely vocal member of it. That a bellowing, racist vulgarian can even come close to being elected President of the most powerful country on Earth is a shameful indictment of the parlous state of US politics today.

And it is of course a reflection of the most parlous aspect of all: the stealthy spread of fascism across the country, combining racism with a massive militarised police force. The Republican Party in particular has made the delegitimising of non-white people central to its legislative efforts. Republican front-runner Trump makes no secret of his belief that Black Americans should not have the right to hold high office.

And many of the right-wingers in the Republican Party believe they shouldn’t even be allowed to vote. After all, US intelligence agencies helped the Colombian drug cartels flood Black neighbourhoods in US cities with crack cocaine in return for their assistance in subverting and overthrowing popular Left-leaning regimes in Latin America. The deliberate policy of arresting and incarcerating Black men on drugs or other minor charges has resulted in a largely Black US prison population. Combined with privatised industrial prisons, the result is a new (or, more correctly, revived) form of slavery. At the same time the Republican Party has promoted the denial of voting rights to Black Americans because of their felony convictions!

In case you think that speculation about the rise of fascism in the US is nothing more than a beat-up by left-wingers, it has also gained traction in the mainstream US capitalist media. On December 10, the New York Daily News, not usually noted as a “liberal” rag, wrote that “Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric emboldens white supremacist groups, [including] neo-Nazis spouting hate on the Internet.” Also in December, the well-regarded Washington Post wrote about the appeal of Donald Trump’s campaign to “the white supremacist movement in the US.”

In 1983, professor William Manning Marable of Columbia University wrote a book with the self-explanatory title How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America. Marable was an American professor of public affairs, history and African-American Studies. He founded and directed the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia. In his book Professor Marable identified the threat of a Fascist coup (á la Pinochet in Chile) in the USA “to resolve the crisis of US capitalism”. That must have made him popular with the authorities!

He went on: “The open encouragement of police brutalities against Blacks by law enforcement officials and elected politicians, plus the proliferating civil violence by white youths and adults against non-whites, sets the social and cultural climate necessary to establish an authoritarian regime.” Professor Marable foresaw the likelihood of this new US venture into fascism eschewing the banners and parades that the Nazis had popularised, and which the American Nazis of the 1930s, the Silver Shirts, had emulated, in favour of a more “laid back”, apparently democratic form of fascism. “Whether this regime is ‘fascist’ in the classical model of Nazi Germany, or ‘authoritarian,’ which would permit some domestic rights, could be simply a question of semantics,” he wrote.

Hitler did not have access to nuclear weapons, and yet he caused the deaths of scores of millions of people. A nuclear-armed fascist in the White House would put the whole world at risk.

Inside the USA, Trump’s campaign came under fire when its national spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, appeared on national television wearing a necklace made of bullets. She has also been revealed as having improperly claimed unemployment benefits while being handsomely paid for running Republican election campaigns and as a promoter of the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory. This ridiculous theory contends that the obligations the US has undertaken as a signatory to various UN-sponsored international treaties are part of a conspiracy for the UN to take over America. How can one country be so powerful and so frightened at one and the same time?

Towards the end of 2015, Trump announced that he would spend $2 million a week on TV ads for the rest of the campaign. Democracy in action, US style. Mind you he probably needs to spend that much if he expects to win. According to a poll released at the end of December by Quinnipiac University in the US, if the 2016 US presidential election had been held then, Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders would win by a landslide over Trump.

According to the poll, US voters favour Sanders over Trump 51 to 38 percent. Sanders, a progressive, would win by 13 points – more than any other candidate would get squaring off with the Republican favourite, including Sanders’ chief rival for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, while Clinton would likewise sail to victory over Trump, her lead would be approximately half as much, with voters favouring her by only 47 to 40 percent.

Outside the USA, Trump’s racist, ultra-reactionary pitch fortunately seems to rouse anger more than support, probably because of Europe’s catastrophic experience of racism at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis. In Britain, more than 200,000 people signed up within 24 hours to demand that Trump be banned from entering Britain because of his hate-filled speeches.

The British government of Cameron’s Tories would have none of it, of course, but we can say sincerely, “Well done, British people!”/p>

Next article – Our wildly inflated fear of terrorism is a self-fulfilling prophecy

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