Sunday, November 04, 2018

Fractured family tales

Osama bin Laden once predicted that the United States must inevitably become disunited.  He was a keen student and critic of this country, but Donald Trump seems to have escaped his notice, though he often railed against such Trump-adjacent topics as gambling and sexual depravity.  He'd be ecstatic about the state of our disunion in 2018.

After the mass murder at the Tree of Life, former (?) UN ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted, "I have struggled w. what happened in Pittsburgh bc it's so similar to what happened in Charleston.  This country was very racially divided @ the time.  We didn't once blame Pres. Obama."

Oh, but you did.  You implicitly blame him now.  "At the time" implies that a country which has been racially divided since 1776 was miraculously healed when white rule was restored in January 2017.  Your response as governor of South Carolina was to shed tears and finally haul down the Confederate flag that had flown over your state house since the 1960s.  Yes, 1960s, a raised middle finger to the civil rights movement that sent an unmistakable message to Dylann Roof and countless others.  Your reward was a showy, powerless job in the Trump regime representing us in an organization Trump despises.  Madam Ambassador, you are full of shit.

Political groups fragment and re-form all the time, most dramatically in my lifetime when the Southern racists abandoned the Democratic Party in the 1960s, just as Lyndon Johnson predicted they would when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  (Two decades earlier Strom Thurmond led the way after Harry Truman de-segregated the armed forces, though he didn't join the Republicans until much later.)  Now, thanks entirely to those racists, the Republicans are coming apart.  First there were the NeverTrumpers, who didn't quite change parties but who indicated, at least before Trump was nominated, that he made them seriously queasy.  Then, one by one, prominent conservatives bailed as the madness escalated:  David Jolly, George Will, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and most recently the hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.  (If Trump noticed, he probably said, "I like pilots who don't hit birds and land on the Hudson River, okay?")  These people joined the party of Dwight Eisenhower, Jacob Javits, Margaret Chase Smith and, yes, Richard Nixon, a party now gone with the wind.

In this election season the fracking has reached into families.  Relatives of Adam Laxalt, Republican candidate for governor of Nevada, and the siblings of Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona have made ads in support of their Democratic opponents.  ("There isn't a kooky, crazy, nutty thing that he isn't a part of," said David Gosar.)  I almost wept when I read the words of Emily West:  "I can't imagine his being in any level of government."  She was talking about her father, Rep. Steve West of Missouri, who is a real piece  West claims "Jewish doctors" at St. Jude Hospital (!) are making children sick with vaccines -- surprise! he's an anti-vaxer, too -- so they can experiment on them with cancer drugs, all for money, of course.  And lest you think it's only the political professionals who are engaged in family feuds, some Trumper named Steve Spaeth of West Bend, Wisconsin, was happy to say he anticipates civil war when the socialists (like his sister, a Democrat) carry out their planned coup:  "I would have no problem shooting her in the face."  I'll bet.

The loudest smack-down came from David S. Glosser in an essay on Politico:  "I have watched in dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family's life in this country."  Dr. Glosser provides a brief history of his family since his father fled Russian pogroms in 1903 and arrived in New York.  The nephew in question is Stephen Miller, who wouldn't exist if his grandfather had been murdered along with everyone else in the shtetl of Antopol.  Passover at the Glossers' must be a little tense.

If the killings at the Tree of Life can be said to have a positive outcome, it is that the Republican Party has suddenly realized some of its members are a smidge anti-Semitic, and that this is not always a good thing.  They haven't gone so far as to call off the two-minutes' hate directed daily at George Soros, but, you know, baby steps.  Steve King, who has been the cornfield Trump through six terms in the House, recently visited Europe to work on his game.  After a pro forma visit to Auschwitz he said he wanted to see it "from the Polish point of view," and if that was too obscure he added that if far-right elements in European politics were American, they would be Republicans.

Well, of course they would.  We know the white supremacist Southerners who remade the party in their image, but what of the thousands of Nazis who either slipped into this country or were invited to become valued members of the intelligence and aerospace communities?  Books have been written (Operation Paperclip, for example) but this is not a subject most Americans know anything about.  Did you know Time Magazine cover-boy Wernher von Braun was not just a scientist, he was also an SS officer?  Read.  King, however, who should be worrying about what Iowa farmers are going to do with their soybeans, also spouts Trump's fear-the-foreign rhetoric, and he has finally gone too far.  The Republican Congressional campaign is nervous, his contributors are backing away, and he has a real chance of being defeated.  The National Review said, "Conservatives need to draw the line at Steve King," and Karl Rove -- yes, that Karl Rove -- laconically tweeted, "I agree we do."  That's what "too far" looks like.  King is the stand-in for Trump, who is probably even worse -- I'm not going to make charts -- but around whom they still dare not "draw the line."

I don't imagine the election will change the nature of the Party of Trump for the better.  They will cling to hate and fear because it works for them, until it doesn't.  "I'm not saying he's a racist," Andrew Gillum said of his opponent, Ron DeSantis, "I'm saying racists think he's a racist."  I guess we'll find out exactly how many racists there are.  And where they live.  And a lot of Thanksgiving dinners are going to end with somebody getting gravy poured over his MAGA hat.



Blogger MarkS said...

Just want to express my appreciation of your concise and witty writing.Any evidence of intelligence is a beacon of hope.

5:47 PM  

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