Even for those people lucky enough not to pay much attention to Donald Trump before the last year, he’s introduced himself with blinding clarity—Trump is a vile, lying, racist, sexist, petty, bullying, and deeply cruel son of a bitch.
For those who for some reason needed a reminder, Trump’s overnight Twitter statements included at least three videos showing people beaten or killed. All of which are claimed to be crimes committed by Muslims. These are not commentaries by Trump, or news reports on the events. These are raw, violent videos designed to generate an emotional response. The first shows a boy on crutches being beaten. The second a religious statue being destroyed. The third a young man being shoved off a roof. All of them are tagged with inflammatory titles like “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”
The source of these videos is Jayda Fransen. Fransen is one of the leaders of the extreme white nationalist party Britain First. Not one of them takes place in America. There are good reasons to doubt the videos, which come with no explanations, background, or proof that they show what they purport to show. There have certainly been violent acts connected with Britain First in the past …
Thomas Mair, the extreme rightwing terrorist, shouted “Britain first” before killing the MP Jo Cox during the EU referendum campaign last year.
After three videos of unqualified Muslim hatred, Trump then had the unmitigated gall to return to attacking CNN, NBC and Comcast for “fake news,” going so far as to suggest a boycott of CNN. At the same time, Trump is now disparaging a tape which the entire nation heard, and which he previously both admitted to and apologized for. The level of both reckless hate and narcissistic delusion just went up another notch.
More than that, Trump has actually revived his adherence to the “birther” conspiracy …
In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
At least one of the videos Trump posted isn’t just hate speech, but a complete fake.
According to two other Dutch websites , the “Muslim migrant” in the video was later found by authorities and was neither a migrant, nor indeed a Muslim.
The biggest delusion in American politics isn’t around the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. It’s the idea that Trump can be constrained. He will not stop attacking the press and attempting to destroy the First Amendment. He will not stop filling the judiciary ranks with unqualified radicals meant to cripple the courts. He will not stop destroying every facet of American foreign policy, ripping away alliances while engaging in a nuclear pissing contest. He will not stop converting the government into a bizarro version of itself, where the EPA actively destroys the environment and the Justice Department enforces racism.
He won’t stop ramping up hate and ramping up the baseless conspiracies. Because why should he? Those conspiracies empower him to take extraordinary action. Trump’s support for Nazis — both in the UK and the US — is helping to drive a rising wave of hate crimes.
More hate crimes were carried out in the United States last year, with an uptick in incidents motivated by bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, among others, according to new FBI data released Monday.
That’s not an accident. That’s by design. If in doubt: Take another look at those overnight tweets.
Hate is what Donald Trump runs on. It’s where his power comes from. He will always, always find another way to throw gas on the fire.
We are skating on the very, very thing edge.
Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: “The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly” rather than those protesters’ “liver should have been spread all over the pavement.” Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one. For all the admiration Trump has expressed for Putin, the two men are very different; if anything, there is even more reason to listen to everything Trump has said.
The damage that Trump has already done is inestimable. And we are way, way down the path to a place where it isn’t just difficult, but impossible, to recover.
We are already in an America that is unrecognizable when compared to the nation that existed a year ago. Donald Trump has moved on from that place—but unfortunately, he’s taken everyone else along.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.