Monday, June 13, 2016

Trump's narcissistic bigotry is well reflected in America's right-wing land

Donald Trump has been roundly condemned by the liberal classes for his extraordinary ability to turn a tragedy into a bit of narcissistic self-promotion.  The famous tweet - "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness and vigilance.  Must be tough" - would seem, to any sane reader, to have come from some semi-educated loony who spouts his vitriol without thought onto the internet.  The fact that it actually comes from the Republican nominee for president is alarming in itself.  What is arguably worse is that the very view and temperament conveyed in that tweet chime so precisely with such a significant proportion of American opinion.

Much of the support given to Trump is inarticulately expressed, but the Breitbart site is a good place to find some attempt to express Trumpism in a form closely approximating to fluent English.  It is here that we get a character called Milo energetically endorsing Trump's approach and slamming Obama's. 

I must confess that I thought Obama's response was measured, thoughtful and soberly expressed without ignoring the sheer horror of what had happened, or shying away from the possible causes, be they hatred or terror.

"Milo" on Breitbart thinks differently.  Like Trump, he thinks the Orlando massacre is essentially about the impact of Islam.  In his bizarre online rant he takes a lesbian commentator to task for suggesting that the attacks were not about religion but intolerant extremism; claims the slaughter is entirely down to America's "Islam problem"; and attacks Obama for variously not mentioning Islam, having a go at gun control and refusing to acknowledge the homophobic nature of the attack.

Obama, of course, specifically referred to the fact that this was an attack upon Florida's "LGBT community", something Milo must have missed when ranting at his TV set, and something that Republican leaders, in their responses, have refused even to mention.  It is also surely beyond question that at least one issue that needs to be considered in assessing the whys and hows of this latest attack is the easy availability of guns - the attacker in Orlando bought his just a few days prior.

But this level of rational thought is anathema to Milo and his ilk.  So too is the recognition that by targeting homosexuals the Orlando attacker carries at least some baggage in common with America's own fundamentalist right.  The same Republicans currently tweeting their sympathy are those who have sought to marginalise the gay community in America by denying their rights to marriage, or to adopt children.  

The attack in Orlando was a terrible example of hatred towards a minority bubbling over into inchoate and destructive violence, taking the lives of 50 innocent people on this occasion.  Hate attacks are not new and are hardly confined to gays, as the Charleston church shooting in 2015 demonstrated all too clearly.

The American right, headed by Trump, have seized on "Islamic terrorism" as the key factor because it allows them to ignore the other possible elements of homophobia and lack of good gun control, which remain firmly embedded in the right-wing mindset.

The discomfiting fact is, though, that it is precisely such a mindset which is proving so electorally potent at the moment.  We may laugh at Trump and mock his primitive narcissism from the safety of our liberal enclaves, but out in the electoral lands of America he has real traction, and the murderous actions of the Orlando killer merely add grist to his mill of hatred.  Killer and would-be politician both understand the potency of collective bigotry.

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