Monday, 30 January 2017

Fear the Threat You Don't See

On a somewhat more serious note, I'm actually way, WAY more afraid of Trump's opponents than I am of Trump himself.  He seems preoccupied with grandiosity, and he tapped into a desire for this on part of a large part of the electorate.  This makes Trump an easy target in a lot of ways.  His lies, such as they are, are his own.  Not that Trump's lies are without consequence, but they do not escape scrutiny. 

Trump's opposition on the other hand, is a lie so vast - how do you unravel it?  Where do you even begin?  It goes way beyond the Clinton Foundation or any of that.  I mean, tens of millions of people were up in arms about the offensive statements of one presidential candidate that his main opponent all but escaped scrutiny, at least from mainstream sources.  How awful it was that Trump's racist statements didn't stop millions from voting for him, completely unasked was how it was that Clinton's hawkish, neo-con voting record and tenure as secretary of state didn't stop millions from voting for her.  In the long run, what has done greater harm: Trump's awful ban on Syrian refugees, or Obama/Clinton era intervention in Syria that contributed to the crisis that made refugees of the population in the first place?

Is the stop on refugees coming to America really so awful as all of that?  While I don't believe it's necessary or even desirable for Trump to raise the drawbridge completely and hunker down in some kind of "Fortress America," I'd also urge a look at what unvetted open door acceptance of refugees has done in Europe.  Should it surprise us that the process has been exploited by those with less than noble intentions, with less than noble outcomes?  That so many people out there know nothing of the European migrant rape crisis speaks volumes to the very thing I'm talking about here.  Seems to me as though accepting not even a single refugee is the lesser evil compared to what happened in Germany on the 2015/2016 New Year's Eve, and I would expect that those most preoccupied with sexual assaults upon women and "rape culture" would be the first and loudest to agree with that sentiment, not the first and loudest to attack it, as is indeed the case.  And again, it's not even necessary to close the boarders to nearly that extent, but is a tighter vetting process - the supposed reason for Trump's temporary "Muslim Ban" really so evil Hitler a thing?

Why is Trump's opposition so bloody preoccupied with identity politics and mawkish sentimentality and almost completely devoid of serious analysis of what are complex and nuanced issues?  It says a great deal, I think, that a Muslim girl wearing a US flag in a Hijab style became an emblem of a massive feminist protest against the supposed misogyny of Trump and his administration.  Because nothing says respect for women's rights like Shari'a law, yes?  It would seem so.  Where is the scrutiny of such issues in mainstream public discourse? 

Where is the scrutiny of this ridiculous "Muslim ban" that Trump's allegedly enacted - the one that managed to not apply to the vast majority of the Islamic world.  Pakistan and Indonesia get a free pass) and even the most egregious perpetrators of Islamic terrorism on US soil -13 of the 16 9/11 hijackers were Saudis - and yet the Saudis get a free pass, as always.   Funny how you never hear about the real reasons - stretching back to the early 1970s - for this.  To say nothing of non-Islamic terrorism on US soil, which has claimed more lives all told over the years.  If the intent here was to keep out Islamic terrorists, the gesture is well short of being a joke worth laughing at, let alone a serious gesture.  But Instead of serious scrutiny and hard questions such as these, it's just foaming at the mouth hysteria from a unified media bloc more interested in whipping loyal reader/viewership into frenzies of terror over the encroaching tyranny of evil Hitler Trump.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not shilling for Trump.  All of our elected leaders should be held to public scrutiny.  I'm no fan of the guy, though he has done some things I agree with, and killing the Trans Pacific Partnership may, by itself, redeem his presidency in the long term, whatever else may happen.  Thing is, the greater threats to democracy long-term are the ones you don't see, hear and feel. This scares me a hell of a lot more than Trump ever has or will.  A kind of auto-immune disorder of the body politic wherein the very mechanisms that are meant to safeguard liberty fall to the ills of partisanship.  Ideological entrenchment among the media and academic classes, for example.  

Sometimes this comes from the right - the pressure to support regressive policy during the Bush era for fear of being unpatriotic or insufficiently concerned with terrorism, for instance.  Sometimes this comes from the left - the tendency to brush aside legitimate criticism of Obama and the Clinton campaign as racism and misogyny, as examples.  In the early days of Obama's presidency, you had freaking out and "literally Hitler" hyperbole from the Tea Party types, now you're getting it from the Pantsuit Nation crowd.  While the right to protest and disagree with the government in good faith is inalienable, I think citizens of a democratic society have a civic duty to think a little more and react and freak out on cue from media signals - be they from Fox News OR CNN - a little less.

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