There was a time when Americans feared and detested mobs. Indeed, it was part of our mythology. Now we’re ruled by a hard-core 40% who refuse to hear or see the ugliness emanating from Trump’s mouth. Very few are asking: Why do we have mob rule?
The power and prestige of the office of the Presidency of the United States continues to conceal and enable the pathetic weakness of the man who presently occupies the Oval Office. But xenophobia extends far beyond Trump, and the United States for that matter.
From India, Australia and the Philippines, to Brazil and America; from England, Italy and Hungary, to Israel, Russia and China, nationalism and autocracy, long-instilled or newly installed, are ascendant. A vacuum of vision and leadership is being filled by the worst tendencies of man.
More ‘moderate’ conservative commentators are shocked by the triumph of the ideas they long trumpeted in more palatable form. Unable to admit complicity, they try to have things both ways, denouncing Trumpism but blaming the worldwide plague on liberals. (Not to be confused with neo-liberalism, which they embrace with a death grip.)
Instead of immigrants, shallow op-ed writers on the right blame the left. Instead of transsexuals, they target “transgressives,” whoever or whatever that is.
Oleaginously attempting to side with Everyman, one ‘thought leader’ attests how completely out of his depth he is by obtaining his diagnosis from a protester in France: “Macron is concerned with the end of the world. We are concerned with the end of the month.”
The cause, we’re told, of the nationalistic pandemic is “contempt for the ideology of them before us: of the immigrant before the native-born; of the global or transnational interest before the national or local one.”
The reversion to tribalism in the 21st century stems from “a hatred of those who think they can define that good, while expecting someone else to pay for it.” Sure, that covers it.
Such sophistry wouldn’t be worth noting, except that in attempting to explain the haters, conservative pundits project their hate—just not as obviously as Trump does at his rallies.
Malevolence is in our face, and it has thrown down the gauntlet:
“Anyone who thinks the most important political task of the next few years is to defeat Trump in the United States and his epigones abroad must give an honest account of their stunning electoral successes.”
(‘Epigones’ means ‘lesser followers,’ and the apologist for nativists doesn’t even get that right, since such notable excretions as Hungary’s Orban,
Israel’s Netanyahu, and Russia’s Putin preceded America’s putz of a prez.)
Though nationalists (and conservatives are nationalists by default) won’t consider insights outside a nationalistic mindset, the challenge has to be answered nonetheless.
The left has been part of the problem, to be sure, but the right can do nothing except keep drilling into aquifers of fear and hatred. The American spirit died over a generation ago. The dead, here and abroad, would rather kill the human spirit than face their own darkness and deadness.
We’re in the death throes of the old order, and only a fool or a knave would insist that “contempt for an ideology” fuels the hatred in the followers of dictators and would-be dictators. What motivates the xenophobes is fear of change, and they recognize one of their own in a coward like Trump.
His ‘my country vs. yours’ mentality is atavistic in an endangered planet and interconnected global society, where the intelligent responses are global more than they are national. All people who seek inclusion rather than exclusion, and want to build bridges rather than walls, can have a voice.
As far as America, with few exceptions it has long been a country of “xenophobia, saber-rattling, theocratic leanings, denial of facts and science, tribalism, and petty and boorish presidents.” Obama was an exception that proved the rule.
And though Barack wasn’t petty and boorish, he was timid, as devoted to the status quo as any president before him. The “hope and change” candidate turned out to be the savior of the banks.
Now Obama’s vice-president, a throwback in the best sense of the word, is campaigning part-time to restore America to what Americans hoped could be recovered after George W. Bush—our self-respect.
Many are reverting to the 19th century nationalism as 20th century internationalism is collapsing. How long can that continue without war? Just long enough for enough people to pour the foundation for a genuine global order in its wake perhaps.
In Monday’s election for the European Parliament, “European Green parties were vaulted into a kingmaking position of power, as voters abandoned traditional political parties in favor of climate-focused activists in a green wave that swept several countries.”
Don’t give up. The future of humanity hangs in the balance.