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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/15/21

Downplaying Trumpism Is Dangerous

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From Truthout

DC Capitol Storming
DC Capitol Storming
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Ten Republicans within the House of Representatives helped bestow on Trump the ignoble distinction this week of being the first president to be impeached twice, charging him with "incitement of insurrection."

But the vast majority of Republicans in the House either remained silent or produced further falsifications diverting attention away from Trump and their own role in inciting the violent insurrection. For instance, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) claimed that impeaching Trump will turn him into "a martyr."

One of Trump's most egregious lackeys, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), defended Trump with the ludicrous claim that impeaching him was simply an expression of "cancel culture" and a further attempt to silence conservatives.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he will not hold a Senate trial to complete the impeachment-and-conviction process before the end of Trump's term, though he had no trouble convening the Senate to rush through Trump's conservative Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

The Republicans' continued defense of Trump points to a moral vacuum in the Republican Party that has paved the way for not just Trump's crimes but also for the emergence of an updated version of fascist politics.

The continued GOP alignment with Trump is even more striking in a moment when many corporations and institutions are belatedly acknowledging how Trump and his enablers in Congress represent a dangerous threat to democracy and are unworthy of their support politically or financially.

Some universities have stripped Trump of honorary degrees and at the same time, a number of banks and large companies have "said they would halt donations from their political action committees, or PACs, to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to certifying the election results on Jan. 6," according to The New York Times.

In addition, the Times reports that the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) of America will no longer hold its May 2022 championship at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

History may have been made with the second impeachment of Trump, but the impeachment -- while notable -- does not offer any guarantees that Trump's control over the Republican Party or his massive influence on his social base will disappear. Nor is there any implication that Trump's big lie about losing the election, inseparable from his long-standing racism and white supremacist views, will suddenly dissipate. More specifically, Trumpism enacts, without apology, a form of historical erasure and willful forgetting that is particularly dangerous in a world wrought with anxiety and enveloped in a deadly surge of pandemics and plagues. This form of erasure has become even more apparent in the wake of the fascist mob attack on the Capitol.

As the long history of right-wing domestic terrorism disappears in the mainstream press's emphasis on the immediacy of the events and images regarding the violent spectacle, little is said about how it is connected to what fascism historian Timothy Snyder describes as Trump's belief that the "American government should be in the hands of white people who are willing to be violent about Black people."

Memory is short-lived in the United States. In addition, the language used to describe the attack focuses repeatedly on the word "mob." In doing so, what gets lost is the fact that this was a right-wing collection of extremists that included a sizeable number of white supremacists, right-wing militia groups, diehard racist segregationists and neo-Nazis, all of whom constitute Trump's social base. Finally, historical erasure is particularly evident in the refusal in the mainstream and conservative media to address how neoliberalism and the long legacy of racism helped to create Trump, his followers and the Capitol breach.

The neoliberal-induced financial crisis produced the economic conditions of deindustrialization, homelessness and massive unemployment among the white working class. This laid the groundwork for mass anger among certain sections of the white working class, who as Walden Bello observes, were "ready to be mobilized someplace, and it was Trump and the right in the United States that took advantage of that, mobilized them, but in a right-wing direction, in a racist direction." After all, the appeal to racism, voter suppression and state violence became central elements of the Republican Party with Nixon's Southern Strategy and evolved with ever more intensity and dire consequences with the election of Donald Trump.

Impeaching Trump is a step forward in holding him accountable, but he did not act alone. The broader forces aligned with his ongoing acts of violence, cruelty and lawlessness must also be held accountable, and this must include the crimes of Wall Street, the right-wing extremist media conglomerates who lied about the election, and the financial elite who provided the funds for Trump's political and cultural workstations of denial, diversion and falsehoods. It is impossible to separate the violent attack on the Capitol from both Trump's language of violence and the systemic violence characteristic of neoliberal governance in the U.S.

The violence Trump used to stay in power did not happen in a vacuum. The governing principles of genocide, militarism and violence have a long history and should also be on trial as a moment of self-reckoning in a time of political and ethical crisis.

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Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and dis the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016), and America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017). He is also a contributing editor to a number of journals, includingTikkun, (more...)

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