Daniel Pipes loses the plot
I was alerted to the Pipes rave by an orthodox Jewish reader. He wrote: "I could hardly believe who is joining the anti-Trump bandwagon. It's Daniel Pipes! While I've disagreed with some of his opinions, I've nothing but respect for his integrity ...until now. That article of his is nothing but hearsay and the basest of ad-hominem attacks. I would never have believed he would stoop to such sordid and fact-free slander. I may not agree with Trump, but none of what Pipes wrote is consistent, either with what I know about Trump or what I've come to expect from Pipes"
Pipes (below) is accusing Trump of being a neo-Fascist, thus revealing how little he knows about both Fascism and neo-Fascism. Fascism had two mainstays: Socialism and nationalism. So Trump is a socialist? Spare us! If Trump is not a capitalist, no-one is. And has Pipes forgotten the difference between patriotism and nationalism? Most people are patriotic but Nationalism is an evil perversion of that. The Nationalist wants to conquer and subdue other countries. Trump, by contrast, is a traditional American isolationist. He wants to WITHDRAW American forces from abroad. So Pipes is dead wrong on both counts.
So what the heck has got into Pipes? Style. He thinks Trump is too aggressive. And he takes literally many of the Trump promises. But Trump is a politician. And what price for politicians' promises? Political promises are aspirations and in practice only a small fraction of them are ever delivered.
In Australia we have a word for what Trump does. He makes "ambit" claims. It's just a negotiating tactic. For example, if a union wants a pay rise for its workers it may initially ask the boss for a 10% raise. It then haggles and eventually accepts 3%. But if it had started out with a 3% claim it might have ended up with only 2%. And if Australian unions know that tactic, we can be sure that arch-deal-maker Trump does too.
I could fisk the whole article below but I will mention just two further points:
1). Pipes mentions that Trump owns a book of Hitler's speeches. But he forgets to mention that Trump has it only because his dynamic friend Marty Davis from Paramount gave it to him. And he also fails to mention that Trump got the name of the book completely wrong so had almost certainly not read it.
2). Pipes links to a video of a speech by Mussolini, which he claims resembles Trump. There is some resemblance but Pipes forgets to check what Musso was talking about. He was just outlining how important the navy was to Italy. Such a speech would be delivered without drama by any Anglo speaker. But Musso was an Italian and Italians are great dramatists. They shout and gesture at the drop of a hat. So Pipes is making Italian dramatics into a core aspect of Fascism.
If you want to see a REAL Fascist rally in action, turn to someone from a nation with manners similar to our own -- to Hitler. His rallies were nothing like Trump's, as anyone who has seen Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the will" will know. See for yourself.
Of his many outrageous campaign statements, perhaps Donald J. Trump's most important ones concern his would-be role as president of the United States.
When told that uniformed personnel would disobey his unlawful order as president to torture prisoners and kill civilians, Trump menacingly replied "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse, believe me." Responding to criticism by the speaker of the House, Trump spoke like a Mafia don: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him well, but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't? He's gonna have to pay a big price." Complaining that the United States' international standing has declined, Trump promised to make foreigners "respect our country" and "respect our leader" by creating an "aura of personality." Concerning the media, which he despises, Trump said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."
He encourages participants at his rallies physically to assault critics and has offered to cover their legal fees. He has twice re-tweeted an American Nazi figure. Only under pressure did he reluctantly disavow support from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. [He kept a copy of Hitler's collected early speeches, My New Order, by his bed. He called on followers to swear allegiance to him, evoking Hitlergruß-like salutes.]
In these and other ways, the Republican presidential candidate breaches the normal boundaries of American politics. He wants the military, the congress, foreign governments, the press, and ordinary citizens to submit to his will. His demands, and not some musty 18th-century documents, are what count. Trump presents himself as billionaire, master dealmaker, and nationalist who can get things done, never mind the losers and the fine print.
Conservatives have picked up on these tendencies. Rich Lowry of the National Review notes, "Donald Trump exists in a plane where there isn't a Congress or a Constitution. There are no trade-offs or limits. There is only his will and his team of experts." Michael Gerson of the Washington Post concurs: "His answer to nearly every problem is himself — his negotiating skill, his strength of purpose, his unique grasp of the national will." Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe fears his becoming "a ruthless strongman in the White House, unencumbered by constitutional norms and democratic civilities."
The former ADL head called the hand-raising for Trump "a fascist gesture." Liberals agree. Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame called Trump "a new kind of fascist in our culture" and someone with an "authoritarian demagogic point of view." Hillary Clinton portrays Trump pursuing "a demagogic path" that relies on xenophobia, paranoia, prejudice, and nationalism "to really stir people up."
If this kind of politics has no precedent at the highest precincts of American politics, it does elsewhere and it has a name: neo-fascism.
The term fascism dates to 1915 when it was adopted by Benito Mussolini to describe a novel movement that combined elements of the right (nationalism) and of the left (an economically all-powerful state). The fascist outlook, according to Merriam-Webster, "exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."
Neo-fascism is the term for post-1945 figures who appropriate elements of the fascist agenda; it is a political movement "characterized by policies designed to incorporate the basic principles of fascism ... into existing political systems." That nicely describes Trump.
Videos of Mussolini demonstrate how the Italian dictator's style anticipated that of the Republican frontrunner; even without knowing Italian, one sees their similarity in character and tone, even in their facial expressions. The distinguished historian Andrew Roberts finds in Mussolini "Trump's secret template."
The United States, the world's oldest democratic republic, faces an internal danger unlike any in the past 1½ centuries, one with the potential to degrade domestic life and reduce the country's standing in the world. Nothing is as important as resisting and defeating Donald J. Trump and the neo-fascist virus he wishes to bring to the White House.
Republicans of Pennsylvania have an important job ahead of us in the primary election on April 26: to do our part in denying Trump the delegates he needs to become our nominee for president.
A description of a Trump rally from the Left
Michael A. Cohen's report below is mostly about his own feelings -- things FELT "venomous, violent, terrifying" etc. And we also get theories about what motivates Trump supporters. We read about "feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies". But how does he know what people are feeling? It's just his opinion. One could equally say that the feelings were of excitement and happiness. It is an amusing example of the constant Leftist refrain that conservatives are not right in the head -- even though, from the French revolution on, it is Leftists who have been the psychopathic mass murderers. But the report does include some genuine reporting. You do get a picture of a very enthusiastic crowd.
As I walked into a soundstage Wednesday night at Grumman Studios, which was filled with thousands upon thousands of Donald Trump supporters penned into metal barricades and donning all manner of Trump paraphernalia, I immediately thought of the words Richard Strout of The New Republic used more than four decades ago to describe the scene at a George Wallace rally during the 1968 presidential campaign.
“There is menace in the blood shout of the crowd,” wrote Strout. “You feel you have known this all somewhere. Never again will you read about Berlin in the ’30s without remembering this wild confrontation here of two irrational forces. The American sickness has finally localized; Wallace is the ablest demagogue of our time.”
The analogy to Germany in the 1930s is, to be sure, inexact. But the atmosphere in Bethpage was unlike anything I’ve seen at a political rally. There was an electricity and energy in the room that felt venomous, violent, terrifying — like the political equivalent of parched kindling before a conflagration. If Trump had told the throngs there to go rampage in the streets, I half think most of them would have complied.
The crowd was almost all white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately young. There were constant chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” “Hillary for prison!,” and “Build the wall!” When protesters raised their voices they were drowned out by a particular chant, more regularly heard at football games, that resounded across the hall. “I’d like to tell them they’re going to be on the southern side of the wall,” said one woman about the protesters. Trump’s omnipresent security guards, many of whom looked like they’d overdosed on muscle mass supplements, soon escorted them out. Thankfully, most of the hecklers who are usually a mainstay at Trump events stayed home or perhaps thought better of riling up the crowd.
A smiling old man proudly displayed to me a T-shirt that read “Trump: Get On Board or Get Run Over.” Another read: “Up Yours Hillary.” When I asked the man to pose for a picture, his wife pulled me over and told me “everything in America is terrible” — the economy, health care, the military. “Don’t you worry about your kids future?” she asked me as she demanded to know if I was voting for Trump.
At other Trump events, there is occasionally concern expressed over some of his more inflammatory statements. Not here. “Trump speaks the truth,” ‘Trump is going to fix things,” they told me. “He’s the only person who can beat Hillary,” said another. One man I talked to so frequently parroted Trump’s catchphrases about getting rid of all the “bad deals” signed by stupid politicians and the foreign countries “ripping us off” that he joked“maybe I should be working for the campaign.” If there was doubt about Trump or fear that perhaps he’s pushing the envelope too far it wasn’t evident in Long Island.
Indeed, the more aggressive that Trump was in his comments, the more the crowd responded. When he said “We’re gonna kick the hell out of ISIS,” the ovation was deafening. When he made his obligatory attack on the media for being “terrible people” the crowd reacted on cue, turning toward the press risers and screaming at us or pointing fingers. And when he asked who is going to pay for the wall he wants to build, the crowd yelled back, “Mexico” and then soon began another chant of “Build the wall!”
Trump’s stump speech was the same he’s now delivered countless times — a litany of complaints about stupid politicians who “don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” journalists who don’t tell the truth about the size of Trump’s rallies, heartless corporations who ship jobs overseas (which won’t happen anymore when Trump takes office), and America’s inability to win anymore. “We don’t fight like people from Long Island,” he said when talking about the war against ISIS.
There were the obligatory attacks on Obama, Clinton, and Lyin’ Ted Cruz. And of course, there was the usual Trump bombast about how he’s “gonna turn this country around so fast” and how voters love him. “The Christians like Trump,” he said bragging about his support with evangelicals.
There was even Trump’s now regular reading of “The Snake,” an Oscar Brown song (Trump still incorrectly says it was written by Al Green) that tells the story of a “tender-hearted woman” who saves a snake’s life only to have it bite and kill her. This is Trump’s explanation for why the United States can’t allow Muslim refugees into America.
It’s a fitting ditty for Trump to read because it sums up well the feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies. Even when he tries to say something aspirational and talks about how those in attendance will look back in a few years on this “great evening” with fondness, he falls back into his usual rhetoric. “For the first time we heard someone say that we’re not going to be a scapegoat and stupid people anymore,” said Trump. “We’re not going to allow the world to rip us off anymore. . . . America first! America first!”
There’s no poetry at Trump’s events, no higher calling, no challenge other than to vote for Trump, no invocation of the “better angels of our nature” — it’s just raw aggression, an animal, nationalistic spirit, us vs. them, zero sum game resentment politics. But then again, there isn’t much indication Trump’s supporters are looking to be uplifted. “Everything is terrible,” the country is “falling apart,” and someone needs to come in a fix it. For them, that man is Donald Trump . . . the ablest demagogue of our time.
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