International

Fascism Knocking at America’s Door

My 7-year old grandson captured the latest mood in U.S. so succinctly in these simple words: The Americans are dumb, he said. Who else would've elected Donald Trump for their President?

Trump's candidacy had started as nothing more than a joke. A reality television man who also happened to be a billionaire showman with a highly tainted reputation seemed to be looking for a good time on the political stage before bowing out with a hurrah. The news media laughed at, and ridiculed, him for yet another of his cheap publicity stunts. They wrote him off from the word go. He didn't have the feather of a chance in a field of candidates that included some Republican heavy weights as, yet another, Bush: Jeb Bush, the younger brother of George W. Bush and younger son of Bush Sr.

But looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the reality television buffoon wasn't playing pranks but, in actual fact, playing on the sensitive chords of a racist America.

Trump rightly sensed the mood of anger and frustration that had been building up in white, rural and deeply conservative America-the so-called heart of America-over the election of a black man, Barack Obama, twice in eight years as the leader of America. Trump knew, instinctively as a white racist and white supremacist that there was a white-lash waiting in the wings of this smarting America to seize back the advantage it had, inadvertently, surrendered to a black man.

Now that he has pulled off the biggest election upset in the history of US, the same media pundits and think-tank gurus who had earlier dismissed him as a joke are now saying that he has exploited the worst racist and religious biases off the American electorate to win the white House.

But racism and religious bigotry may be surprise news only to those with little or no knowledge of the people, the so-called pioneers, who had initially settled the New World.

Those who came from Europe in the 17th century to settle in the new land, claimed it in the name of God. The slogan was that it had been given to them to build a 'New Jerusalem' a 'shining city on the hill' that would be the beginning of a new era of Christian domination. So inspired by their dogmatic religious beliefs were those early settlers that they did not call themselves immigrants or settlers but "pilgrims."

Endowed with their God-given sanction, the 'pilgrims' slaughtered the native Americans, the so-called Red Indians, with a ferocity that could only be described as bestiality and utter savagery. Millions of the natives were decimated with impunity because the Christian clergy gave a blank cheque for that slaughter. The church justified the blood-letting in the name of purging the God-gifted land of the uncivilized 'heathens.'

Religion coupled with blatant bigotry has always been endemic to the psyche of White America. What else would explain centuries of slavery in America? Slaves from Africa were treated like beasts, less than human beings, because a false sense of white racist supremacy sanctified the treatment of Black Africans as nothing more than beasts of burden who didn't qualify as human beings because the church also said they were from a race condemned by God. No wonder that when the founding fathers of US proudly proclaimed their belief in the equality of all mankind they had only the white race in mind. There was not a 'founding father' who didn't own stables of African slaves.

Fast forward that bigoted racist pride in the white man being superior to all to the election of Barack Obama s the first non-white president of a country with deep roots in white supremacy. The racists must have been jolted down to their centuries-old roots. How could it be that where millions of non-white Indians had been butchered like dogs and where black slaves had been auctioned like chattels a man from their race had been chosen to live in the White House and reside over America.

So, the building blocks of a race-based campaign to wrest back the white-ruled US from the hands of those who did not have the 'right' to rule were in place when a racist bigot, a buffoon and a bully, seized the moment to ply upon this ample reservoir of deep-seated racial and religious biases.

Trump launched his campaign of unbridled hate and bigotry by picking on the weakest and most vulnerable segments of the American milieu: poor Mexican workers, in US by millions because of the two countries sharing the same land, and Muslim immigrants and new Americans of Islamic roots.

His blame game started with Mexicans, whom he character-assassinated as rapists and murderers, and he vowed to deport them back to Mexico by the millions, besides threatening to build a wall all along the border between the two neighbours to be paid for by Mexico.

But the worst of his unstinted rant against the weak was reserved for Muslims. He called for a 'total and complete' ban on their entry in to US until he could figure out what to do about them.

Muslims have been birds of prey in US since Islamophobia became fashionable in the wake of the twin-tower disaster of September 2001. It was a shoo-in for Trump to point the finger at Muslims for all the terrorism in US, despite crime figures that list Muslims at the bottom of the crime table in the country.

Trump painted a picture of a US suffering because countries like China had robbed the jobs of its workers and he vowed to bring all those jobs back. This lie worked like a fantasy on the semi-educated white working class of Americans who had long been used to easy pickings: working fewer hours but reaping generous benefits in times when there was little competition from labour-efficient countries like China, Japan and South Korea.

Trump blamed the 'system' and 'the establishment' for conspiring against American workers and outsourcing jobs belonging to American workers. But he never mentioned that he, too, had conveniently outsourced some of his own businesses to places with cheap labour.

Hitler, in the post-WWI Germany, had played upon the deep feeling of hurt of the German people. But he'd been genuine as far as unfair treatment of Germany by the victors of the First World War was concerned. Germany had been saddled with extremely harsh and punitive reparations by the victors, which heavily dented, and  drained the German economy of its wealth to the point of virtual incapacitation.

There is no such case with the US economy. American multi-national corporations have outsourced manufacturing jobs to overseas because of low and costly productivity of American workers and, by comparison, high productivity and low wages of overseas workers.

But as the astounding outcome of the November 8 election would vouch, Trump's bigotry and outright lies found a willing audience in the white, semi-educated and world-illiterate Americans like him. They voted for him and, in doing so, have managed to push US closer to the point where the future of American democracy and its great democratic institutions built over the last two centuries hang in the balance.

There's hardly an element of doubt left that Trump is riding a wave of racist and religious hatred-feelings that have been embedded in a culture of white supremacist philosophy. They never went away. Little wonder that a demagogue Trump tapped into this pool of xenophobia, racism and, of late, a rabid streak of Islamophobia to pave his way to the White House.

With triumph in his pocket, Trump seems to be poised to implement his agenda of doom without loss of a moment. He looks determined to follow through on an agenda to literally whitewash all the good work of Obama.

That Trump will go after Obama's achievements and reforms with a vengeance was never in doubt and he, from the morning after his victory at the polls, looks well set to honour his pledge to his white, racist, supporters to undo all that Obama built.

After all, this was the man who spent years and millions of his ill-begotten money to wage a vendetta against Obama, desperately trying to prove that the first non-white US president was not an American by birth. His popularity with the racist segment of America is proof of it that he wasn't alone in feeling revolted by the presence of a black man in the white House.

Trump has the undoing of Obamacare-the health-care Obama initiative that has helped tens off millions of poor Americans to have medical insurance-on top of his list. Likewise, he has already served notice to do away, on his first day in the White House, with the Trans-Pacific Trade pact which Obama had claimed ass a feather in cap and which was to rope all the major trading countries on the rim of Pacific Ocean into one economic community of interest.

To put teeth into his agenda of vengeance and hate, Trump is bringing into his cabinet ultra-conservatives known for their bigotry and racist views.

His very first appointment, that of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist of the Trump administration, has sent out clear and frightening signals of what he intends to do to America and the world.

Bannon had acquired great notoriety, since 2012, when he became head of an unabashedly racist, misogynist, hate-mongering and Islamophobic web-site by the name of Breitbart. In August of this year, Bannon had assumed the charge of CEO of Trump's election campaign.

Under an ultra-conservative hate-monger like Bannon, Breitbart became known as a toxic web-site spewing the muck of hate against its racist and religious targets. It proclaimed, for instance, that the Confederate flag was "a glorious heritage."

But the most venomous of Breitbart barbs were reserved for Muslims. One headline, for instance, preached that "Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb, increasingly sympathizing with radicals, terror."

Another incendiary headline, recently only days before Trump's election, had screamed that Huma Abedin, a Hillary Clinton advisor of Pakistani origin, was a Saudi spy.

Muslims, in particular, should have no fancy notions that President Trump would be a more responsible person than the shameless demagogue who fulminated against Islam and the Muslims from every pulpit during his inflammatory campaign for the White House. Obama, to be fair in his assessment, didn't do much for Muslims and the Muslim world and was a disappointment to those who were impressed by hiss rhetoric of change. But Trump's Islamophobia is of a much sinister streak. A fascist America, in the clutches of a dangerous demagogue threatens to encircle the Muslim world with a vengeance not seen since the Crusades.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2016 on page no. 18

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