Looking at the rapt faces of the faithful attending The Trumpster's rallies is reminiscent of the crowds of Germans in Leni Riefenstahl's 1935 film, "Triumph of the Will." Eags (Timothy Egan) recognizes the parallels between Adolf Hitler and Donald J. Trump with the accuracy of William L. Shirer. If this is the (fair & balanced) use of history, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Donald Trump’s Police State
By Eags (Timothy Egan)
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In The Plot Against America (2004), the novelist Philip Roth imagines an alternative history at the dawn of World War II. Charles A. Lindbergh, aviator hero and crypto-fascist, defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Rather than go to war against Nazi Germany, he foments an atmosphere of hatred directed at Jews in the United States.
President Lindbergh’s rule is based on fear. He can violate the Constitution because enough Americans do not mind limiting the freedom of a suspect minority in the name of security.
Of course, it could never happen here. It’s a novel, silly boy — one of late-stage Roth’s better efforts. Made-up stuff. That’s what I’ve always thought. But over the last three months, in listening to plans of the Republican presidential front-runner and the views of his increasingly thuggish followers, I’m starting to have some dark fears should Donald Trump become president.
Take him at his word — albeit, a worthless thing given his propensity for telling outright lies and not backing down when called on them — Donald Trump’s reign would be a police state. He has now outlined a series of measures that would make the United States an authoritarian nightmare. Trump is no longer entertaining, or diversionary. He’s a billionaire brute, his bluster getting more ominous by the day.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before,” he said in the demagogic spiral following the Paris attacks. “And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule.”
What’s he talking about? In his words, he wants to implement “the unthinkable.”
Let’s start with his most far-reaching crush of cruelty, the Trump promise to create a huge “deportation force” to storm into homes, churches, schools and businesses and round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants. In doing so, he would need an army of agents to go door-to-door, breaking up families, and snagging many citizens caught up the in the mass sweeps.
As his jackbooted minions grab legal Americans (the children born in this country, citizens per the 14th amendment) and separate them from their illegal parents, he will place them — where? In foster homes? In detention centers? In concentration camps?
He says it will take only two years for him to disrupt nearly every community in the United States, destroying thousands of businesses in the process. “I’m going to remove them so fast your head would spin.”
Let’s do the math: Trump promises to arrest, sort, and deport 11 million people — a number more than 25 percent higher than the entire population of New York City. This from the nominal leader of a party that doesn’t think government can do anything well. In practice, (imagine the viral videos) the new operation would prompt a million Hispanic Anne Franks — people hiding in the attics and basements of Donald Trump’s America.
To go with his Deportation Force, Trump would send another wave of federal authorities out to identify, track and monitor Muslims in America. All of them? He hasn’t said. He’s building his police state on the fly. But in just a few days he went from saying he would “strongly consider” closing houses of worship (mosques), to saying he would have “absolutely no choice” but to shut them down. As for tracking Muslims through some kind a database, he’s been squishy, but also unequivocal, saying, “I would certainly implement that.”
For those fleeing war and religious persecution from the butchers of the Islamic State, sorry if you’re Syrian — Trump would deport those already vetted refugees, mostly women and young children.
To further clamp down in this land of the formerly free, Trump could borrow a few police state ideas from his fellow Republican presidential candidates. Mike Huckabee has suggested using federal agents to invade doctors’ offices and homes, physically preventing women from ending a pregnancy.
Ben Carson has said would consider unleashing a new force in academia, using the Department of Education to root out and punish schools foisting “political correctness” on young minds.
But if all the fragile college students clamoring for trigger warnings want something to send them straight to their padded safety rooms, they should attend a Trump public event.
These rallies are scary spectacles of rabid brown shirts in Dockers. His followers cheer while others pummel protesters, or spit on them. A few days ago in Alabama, a black protester was punched and kicked by his supporters. Trump suggested the man had it coming.
Like any good authoritarian — Soviet or banana republic — Trump concocts plots and dark doings to scare the quivering masses. And no one on the public stage is better at the Big Lie this year than Trump. PolitiFact found that 75 percent of his so-called factual statements are “mostly or entirely false.” The other 25 percent were “half true” or “mostly true.” His score in the flat-out “true” column was zero.
But that doesn’t stop him. The more lies he tells, the more popular he is with a large part of the Republican base that lives in a world of made-up horror and blunt force solutions.
So, hordes of Mexicans continue to rush into the United States, he says, when in fact more people are now returning to Mexico than are coming in. Syrian refugees are “pouring into the country” when barely 2,000 have been admitted. And Trump continues to say “I saw” thousands and thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11, when no such thing has ever been documented. The goal is to get you to hate them — Mexicans, Muslims, the object of all your fears.
As we enter the holidays, there is one more Trump vow to consider. “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you.” With Trump, the seasonal salutation may be mandatory, and creepy. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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