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Issue #1847      November 7, 2018

Culture & Life

Trump lit the fires

On Wednesday of last week, Gregory Bush, having failed in his effort to get into an African-American church, instead went into a Kroger supermarket in Louisville, Kentucky and shot two black customers to death. That story was pushed aside quickly by reports that pipe bombs made by Cesar Sayoc were showing up at the homes of Democrats and others, including former President Barack Obama, who have been regular targets of President Trump’s vitriol. It was the largest assassination plot in US history. And if all that was not enough, millions of Americans awoke Saturday morning to the news of the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history – the murder by Robert Bowers of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

These vile acts of domestic terrorists took the oxygen out of the air breathed by people of good will every single day of last week, including on the weekend. None of what happened, however, should be a surprise. All three events are the logical outgrowth of the hate spewed by President Trump and repeated or tolerated by his enablers in the Republican Party. This is true not just of the violent terrorism of this past week, but also of the ongoing attacks against African Americans, Muslims, Jews and, in recent weeks, Guatemalans and other people from Central America.

Trump bragged recently that he is a “nationalist,” not a “globalist.” Robert Bowers, the killer of the worshipers at the synagogue, has long said on Twitter that he is a “nationalist” and that Jews are “trying to control the world.”

President Trump has been ginning up votes by inciting fear of a caravan of poverty-stricken immigrants that is more than a thousand miles away from our border and has spewed conspiracy theories about how George Soros, a liberal Jewish activist, is “financing” this operation. Robert Bowers has been talking on social media about how the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is “bringing in invaders” from Central America.

Is it any wonder then that a confirmed self-described Nazi sympathiser said he was “going in” to essentially finish a job that Trump, who Bowers said doesn’t go far enough, had started?

Trump has used the words “nationalist” and “globalist” at his rallies – the same vocabulary often used in anti-Semitic diatribes online. He has demonised Black people, brown people, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. With the most powerful man in the world making such rhetorical attacks at his rallies on an almost nightly basis, the horrific events of last week become quite understandable. Extreme right-wing haters who have far less power than the president become, in their own eyes, powerful when they pick up a gun and commit mass murder.

We can also better understand the events of last week when we look at political developments overall. The working class and its allies are fighting harder and harder for economic justice, including a living wage, health care, and fairness at their workplaces. When the rich and powerful feel threatened by this movement, they sometimes resort to the fascist-like tactics we see Trump carrying out.

This explains why some people of Jewish background – Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, and Sheldon Adelson, among others, for example – because of their class alliances, including backing of the right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel, have sided with Trump. One has to ask why they have no shame now that the movements around Trump are exposed so blatantly for the anti-Semites that they really are?

The overwhelming majority of Jewish people, however, see Trump for what he really is. More than 77 percent of them voted against him in the first place. The rabbi in charge of the Tree of Life Synagogue, Jeffrey Myers, warned recently in an article about the dangers of Trump’s anti-immigrant bashing.

The Ku Klux Klan is now a regular backer of Trump, with David Duke often singing his praises, as he did when Trump characterised racists in Charlottesville who chanted “Jews will not replace us” as good people.

The fascistic Daily Stormer website regularly cheers Trump on. Trump returns the favour by retweeting their right-wing conspiracy theories and repeating in his speeches many of the lines first tried out on crowds by Hitler and Mussolini.

Prior to last week, there have, unfortunately, been many successes scored by Trump and the extreme right. They have wreaked havoc with the US immigration system and imposed outright misery on so many people through a policy of throwing children into cages. They have imposed travel bans on people from entire regions of the world and now declare that a caravan of poor people is a “national emergency” that requires the sending of troops to the border.

The GOP continues to stand by and either support or excuse Trump as he continues injecting more and more of this poison into the veins of national political life.

The demonization of whole groups, we know from history, can spiral into a never-ending disaster. We must not let that happen. The immediate first step required of all of us is to do everything we can to turn out of office on November 6 all the Republicans who have aided and abetted Trump in creating the national disaster we face today. The best way right now to remember all the victims of last week and all the victims of racist terror before that is to kick all the demons out of office next week.

People’s World

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