Friday, August 18, 2017

American Fascism, Donald Trump and the Slippery Slope

 No day goes by without one more outlandish behavior by our non-President. Howard Dean said it well the other day: Currently, America does not have a functioning president. There is guy who got elected to the White House by accident. No rational person seriously views him as a real President. He is something else - a celebrity, an actor, an oddity, something else. We and the rest of the world have to live with this for the foreseeable future, but this country is now essentially without a functioning president.

A good illustration of this is the flap about Charlottesville: A group of racist Nazi white-supremacist KKK fascists held a rally, they were confronted by a group that opposes racism, violence ensued, the fascists murdered a young woman.

Then, Trump argued in front of the entire planet that both “sides” were equally at fault.

He proceeded to give a history lecture: The effort to take down monuments of General Robert E. Lee and other Southern figures is bad, because this can become a slippery slope. Some people might eventually want to take down statues of men like Washington and Jefferson, who were after all also slave owners. Where will it stop? Trump exclaimed.

Many people are (rightly) appalled by this attempt at seeing moral equivalency here, but the absurdity of this “slippery slope” argument has not been clarified.

First, Trump said with a straight face at a press conference that he only speaks about a subject after he has acquired all the pertinent facts. Why did the press corps not unanimously explode in laughter?

And then, the chutzpah, the audacity of this man - to dare give a lecture in history! This guy probably has trouble distinguishing between World War One and World War Two, between who our allies and enemies were in our past wars, between the difference of “ante-bellum” and “post-bellum,” between the First World, the Second World, and the Third World, between the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence...

“Slippery slope” my ass! Germany respects the millions of soldiers it lost during World Wars One and Two: They are buried and recognized in vast cemeteries. But Germany does not fly swastika flags, and it doesn’t erect statues of Hitler, Goering and Goebbels.

Recognizing and remembering history factually is one thing. By all means, let there be Civil War museums. But glorifying unacceptable errors is something else. Fighting the bloodiest war in our history in defense of slavery was an unforgivable “error.” Men such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were traitors to their country. That’s the word. Equating them with Washington and Jefferson because they all owned slaves is a logic worthy of an elementary school child.

Many of the statues and monuments glorifying the Southern fight for secession were built in the 20th century, in the South’s continued effort to “rehabilitate” itself. That propaganda has been quite successful. Gone with the Wind remains the most popular movie of all time.

Now, the wind is blowing in a different direction. The Zeitgeist is changing, thank God. Who knows how far things will go in the campaign to eradicate monuments that glorify the unacceptable - slavery and racism. Our society’s changing attitudes towards such relics are not “revisionism” or “political correctness.” They represent a long-overdue CORRECTION. No one is clamoring to re-write history, just getting it right. There is always room for correction - yes, we learn now that men like Columbus, Washington and Jefferson were highly flawed. We see their warts as well as their contributions. This is progress.

And there is another very harmful consequence of Donald Trump’s arguing “slippery slope” on national television: Many simpletons (e.g. Tucker Carlson) find this imbecile history lecture appealing. Thus begins a stupid “conversation” about the pros and cons of something like removing the confederate flag from state capitols. These flags hurt millions of African-Americans and others. They should be removed, as should other symbols that glorify slavery and oppression. Washington and Jefferson? Who knows. History books need to include their warts too, the fact that they owned slaves, black mistresses, etc.

This “slippery slope” issue is a pseudo-issue, an asinine one which the ignoramus-in-chief probably picked up from Steve Bannon. No one is clamoring to rename half of America’s main streets and high schools. But if in the future many people do, then yes, follow the will of the people.

When I hear Donald Trump claiming the moral equivalence of murderous fascist thugs and anti-racist marchers, I can think of another slippery slope: Pretty soon we’ll start a debate about the pros and cons of Hitler and Stalin.

© Tom Kando 2017;All Rights Reserved
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