Trump in Phoenix:
Thuggish Attacks on the Press, Doubling Down on Charlottesville

August 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Trump’s August 22 speech in Arizona was a 77-minute-long rant with a clear purpose: to firm up the most reactionary core of his supporters and rouse them to battle. Against his opponents in the ruling class, the mainstream mass media, and the targets of the vicious agenda of “Make America White Again,” including immigrants, Muslims and those outraged by and taking to the streets to protest Trump’s embrace of neo-Nazis, KKKers, and all manner of white supremacists.

Friends and Enemies: Cops, Christian Fascists and “Second Amendment People”

Despite a lot of cynical blather about “loving” everybody, opposing racism, etc. this speech was very much about “us vs. them,” friends and enemies. Trump set clear terms at the start about who he actually “loves,” who exactly he means when he says “We.

He began with praise for a string of Christian fascist theocrats at the events—VP Mike Pence, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, evangelist and Islam-basher Franklin Graham—and said that “America is indeed a nation of faith,” clearly meaning fundamentalist Christianity. These Christian fascists are a major part of his regime and of its social base, and Trump needs to maintain his close alliance with them.

Trump made clear to his base that in the face of opposition, he is not backing away from the whole fascist program he represents: “We are fully and totally committed to fighting for our agenda and we will not stop until the job is done.”

Trump went on, saying that “we reaffirm our shared customs, traditions and values. We love our country. We celebrate our troops. We embrace our freedom. We respect our flag. We are proud of our history, we cherish our constitution, including the Second Amendment by the way ... we believe in law and order, and we support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.”

These and other references to patriotism and faith; to “shared” (meaning white Christian “Western”) values; the full and absolutely uncritical embrace of America’s whole ugly history of genocide, conquest, and white supremacy; the repeated calls for law and order and shout-outs to pigs and other armed reactionaries—all this defined “we” as “we fascists.”

Everyone not part of or fully down with this was cast as “the enemy”. First, there were the non-white and/or non-Christian masses. Here Trump was careful to use dog whistles and buzz words. When he spoke of “gang violence in our streets” and the MS-13 “animals” who “cut [people] up into little pieces,” when he spoke of “liberating towns,” his audience knew he meant Black urban youth and Latino immigrants. When he spoke of keeping “radical Islamic terrorists out of our country,” his audience knew that meant Muslims in general, whether immigrants or U.S.-born. Trump also went after anti-fascist and anti-racist protesters, who he depicted as menacing figures “in the helmets and the black masks,” then spitting out the words “the antifa.”

Trump was whipping up fear and calling for fascist violence as the solution. At one point he bragged about how protesters had been beaten up by the crowds at his past campaign rallies, and then boasted that people are “safe ... at a Donald Trump rally ... you are safe in this room.” The clear message was that “his” people face a vast array of threats, and the only way they can be safe is by violently suppressing those “others” who threaten them, whether through the official forces of “law and order” (cops, Border Patrol, etc.) or armed civilian reactionaries.

Trump was also threatening bourgeois forces. After raising the specter of menacing foreigners and animals assaulting America, he charged mayors who lead “sanctuary cities” with “shielding criminal aliens,” and those who oppose his border wall as “putting all of America’s safety at risk.” He mocked and denounced both Republican senators from Arizona (McCain and Flake), and called on the mob (sorry, “the audience”) to troll and harass them (sorry, “speak to your senator”). He insisted Senate rules be changed so that the 51 Republican senators could pass at will whatever laws Trump wants.

The message was clear—no barriers to his full program would be tolerated, and there would be no quarter for foes or even vacillating allies.

Attacking the Media, Forging a Mindless Mob

Trump’s attacks on the media were particularly vicious—he denounced journalists as “bad people,” “really dishonest,” who “don’t like our country” and “aren’t going to change.” You don’t need a computer to figure out what Trump has in mind for people that he believes are traitors who will not change, but in case you didn’t get it, Trump led the crowd to turn and face the media cage for a bout of menacing booing.

This attempt to TOTALLY DISCREDIT the news media as a possible source of any true information was accompanied by a barrage of falsehoods that was astounding even by Trumpian standards, because everyone listening knew, or could readily find out, that he was lying.

Trump claimed that  CNN turned off their cameras because it “does not want its falling viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight”—even though millions of people were watching him at that very moment live on CNN! He claimed that there were just a “few people outside” protesting—when there was live footage of thousands of protesters. And on and on.

Trump was running the classic “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes” gambit, and he was doing it for a reason. Fascism, to a qualitative degree more than other forms of bourgeois rule, requires mindless mobs of fanatics as shock troops for the imposition of extreme and brutal changes—mobs that will, in the name of their leader, their “protector,” carry on pogroms (mob attacks) on oppressed people, break up rallies of opposition parties, march blindly into wars based on whatever mendacious explanation the regime comes up with at the time. People like that need to be insulated from objective reality, they need to be trained to believe that even when the leader says something that is obviously false, it is still “true,” and that things that are obviously true when coming from other sources are still “false.” And it must be said, the chanting, screaming mob in that Phoenix arena certainly showed themselves to be willing converts.

Lies, Double-Talk and Doubling Down on Charlottesville

After white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched through Charlottesville with torches chanting racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay slogans, after they threatened people at a church service and savagely beat counter-protesters, and after one of them murdered Heather Heyer and injured 19 other people ... after all that, Trump placed the blame for the violence partly on the anti-racist demonstrators. Then, on Tuesday, August 15, Trump’s human-mask slipped off completely, he said straight up “there were many fine people” in the white-supremacist mob, and that statues of Confederate generals who fought for the enslavement of Black people should not be touched.

Trump’s siding with the white supremacists, in the face of the murder of Heather Heyer, has set off shockwaves in society. Major protests against white supremacy took place, even in deep “red” states like Texas and Arizona. Important business leaders and people in the arts broke ties with Trump.

Trump dealt with this at his Phoenix rally by a combination of outright lies, double-talk, and doubling down. First, he made a big point about loving everyone, wanting to bring the whole country together, opposing to racism, etc. He even condemned the KKK and neo-Nazis by name—twice. But on his second try he all-but-openly said “this is not something I believe, it’s just something I have to say.”

Then he spent half an hour walking through his statements about Charlottesville, leaving out all the parts that revealed his support for white supremacy. He didn’t mention that he had emphasized “many sides... many sides” were in the wrong. He didn’t mention that he said some members of the Nazi mob were “very fine people” He didn’t mention that he had mourned the loss of “our beautiful [Confederate] statues.” And then he whined about how outrageous it was that “the media” was reporting that he did say these things—which he did say.

This was pure bullshit! But there was purpose to it—convincing the public (and even to a certain extent people in Trump’s base) that this movement isn’t racist, it’s just “sticking up for the rights of white people.”

In the eyes of these fascists, the smallest concessions made to the struggle for equality for Black people over the past few decades are discrimination against white people, even “white genocide.” And this is closely meshed with demanding women “return to their place,” and LGBTQ people be erased from society. The logic of that logic does lead to open embrace of Nazis and the KKK.

In this vein, Trump complained bitterly about “weak leaders” taking down Confederate monuments that had been there “for 150 years,” and declared “they are trying to take away our history and our heritage. You see that,” which was met by loud boos. Then he basically promised to pardon ex-Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a vicious anti-immigrant racist who is facing jail after defying repeated court orders to stop what the U.S. Department of Justice called the worst racial profiling in U.S. history! And then he wrapped it all up with echoes of the German Nazi slogan “Germany Über Alles” (over everything): “We are Americans ... The future belongs to us.”

For all those (far too many!) who have not yet come to terms with the fully fascist nature of the Trump/Pence regime, and its chilling program of white supremacy, xenophobia, patriarchy, and “law and order,” this speech was a shocking wake up call as to where the Trump/Pence regime is going, how fast it is going there, and how determined it is to rip up the existing way the U.S. has been ruled, and replace it with something much, much worse.

There is an urgent need for millions of people who do not want this nightmare to come to pass to act with the courage and determination commensurate with the stakes on November 4 and across the country, to drive this regime from power before it is too late.




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