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Trump and Fascism, A Retrospective Series, Part 2: Race is the Trump Card

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Golly gee. Whose thinking does this advertisement remind you of?  Couldn't be the Trumpublicans(C), could it?
Golly gee. Whose thinking does this advertisement remind you of? Couldn't be the Trumpublicans(C), could it?
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This is the second in this series of past commentaries on Trump, published earlier on BuzzFlash and then republished recently on the same journal. The original version of this column was published in 2011. It considers the origins, some of the history (briefly) and modern usage, especially by Trump, of the Doctrine of White Supremacy and its evil twin, open racism. In this column that usage was in the context of "birtherism" vis-a-vis President Obama.

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Not so long ago, in a land not at all far away, part of it was ruled by a tiny oligarchy of very wealthy large landowners. They made their wealth in part off the backs of unpaid farm laborers for whom they provided nothing more than minimal food and shelter, in part by commercially trading in those laborers as property, and in part off the backs of another group of (much smaller) landowners/small farmers, who were generally poor, although definitely better off than the aforementioned unpaid laborers.

Actually, the two groups had much in common. They worked hard, got nothing (in the case of the first) and precious little (in the case of the second) for their labors. They were both dominated and exploited by the oligarchy. One would have thought, in fact, that the two groups of laborers might actually join forces and struggle to improve their respective states in life. But of course, this did not happen in the slaveholding South (or the other non-Southern slaveholding states before the First Civil War either).

For in the South in particular, the ruling oligarchy had very carefully, over a period of two centuries since slaves were first brought to North America in 1619, nurtured the false Doctrine of White Supremacy. Among other things the doctrine held that, even though there had been interbreeding between European settlers and African slaves from the earliest days, and thus many slaves were of "mixed" blood, "white" people were inherently superior to "black" people. Given that inbreeding, the latter constructs, "black people" in particular, that held that one group was inherently "inferior" (when in fact it had much of the supposedly "superior" white blood in it) were totally artificial. And of course, they still are. But logic and facts never troubled the Right and the racists back then any more than they do now.

But, and it is a big BUT, whatever could be said about the status and living standards of the poor whites in the South, the oligarchy could and did always buy them off with the notion that whatever else was going on in their lives, they were somehow "superior" to the "blacks." For the First Civil War, the Southern oligarchy managed this ideological trick so well that about 250,000 poor whites went to their deaths trying to perpetuate the institution of slavery on the territory (and Territories) of the then-United States. And then after the end of the War, during Reconstruction when some efforts were made by both poor whites and the newly "Freedmen" to form alliances, the oligarchy very quickly remobilized the doctrine, backed up by the Ku Klux Klan and other terror organizations to make sure that the poor whites either continued to be bewitched by it or were themselves terrorized in submission. (See the historical novel "Freedom Road," by the U.S. author Howard Fast.)

Of course, the doctrine of White Supremacy, and the psychological power it holds over certain "white" people in the U.S., has never gone away. In fact, its presence and wide-spread influence on the thinking of United States folk of all kinds to this very day is a major indicator of how in my view the South actually won the First Civil War. As others have said, the Southern oligarchy lost the war but over time has won the peace.

And so, we come to the present time. Instead of the Slave Power oligarchy ruling one section of the country and controlling much of its politics nationally until the first firing of the guns of South Carolina at Fort Sumter, we now have the Corporate Power oligarchy ruling the whole country and controlling virtually all of its politics. And many "white" folks actually support the Corporate oligarchy even though, like the Southern oligarchy of old, its politics are contrary to the best interests of most of those "white" folk. And indeed, the Corporate Power does it with same old doctrine: "whatever else is going on in your life, you are inherently superior to that 'black' person over there just because you are 'white' and he or she is 'black.' And oh by-the-way, the Doctrine now extends to 'brown' people, to immigrants, to Muslims, to homosexuals, and to what-have-you. You are 'white,' and you have supremacy just because of that very fact."

Race is the Trump card for the Right, for the Corporate Power, and increasingly for the Religious Right as well --- see the current [2011] performance of Franklin Graham in re President Obama. Whatever other cards anyone may lay on the table in front of the GOPTP (GOP Tea Party) rank-and-file, its leadership attempts to convince them that the Corporate Oligarchy (which actually runs the GOPTP) is their (that is the rank-and-file's) enemy as well. The way they do this is by a massive game of distraction, done by playing their Trump card (racism), which almost always wins the game. Which brings us (I know that you were waiting for this one) to Donald Trump.

Trump, a former Health Care Single-Payer supporter, a former pro-choicer, a former supporter of other liberal causes, may or may not be actually running for the GOPTP nomination for President. There are certainly plenty of observers who think that that is not the case, if only because he would have to reveal a good deal about his personal finances. And since those are apparently quite murky, if not quirky in the sense of his relationship to his variable real estate and gambling casino holdings and who he banks with on them, he just might not want to do that. But be that as it may, for now he seems to be actively running.

And what is he using as his own Trump Card? Why the classic one of white supremacy/racism. For what else does the so-called "birther issue" stand for? Yes, the State of Hawaii has produced the certificate that certifies that a birth certificate exists in their files (and now the President has produced the original copy). Yes, there are the contemporaneous birth announcements. But the Right knows better than to confuse any of its adherents with facts. They keep on pretending that there is something there when of course there isn't. They are not the first to use the Big Lie Technique. Brought to its earlier highest peak of proficiency by Hitler and Goebbels, it proclaimed that the bigger lie one told, if one told it over and over again, with conviction, that the people you wanted to reach would come to believe it, and their support for you would be increased.

Trump knows full well what the facts about Pres. Obama's birth are. But how better to distinguish himself from the rest of the undistinguished GOPTP field than to openly playing the race card, using the dog whistle of "birtherism," resting on the foundation of the Doctrine of White Supremacy that has been in place in this country since long before the First Civil War. It happens that Trump himself appears to be backing away from birtherism, but he planted the seed and it is sprouting very well, so well in fact that about 75% of GOPTP voters either believe that Obama is not a US citizen or have doubts about the fact. The attack is on Obama's legitimacy as a person, and "we all know what that means, don't we."

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
 
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