When Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends Donald Trump, she often sounds like the denial-afflicted mother of a repeat offender juvenile delinquent boy, who keeps bemoaning that it was the other kids who egged Johnny on, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Monday, Sanders gave her second press conference all month, and of course she adjudicated Trump as completely blameless for the violent episodes which rocked the country last week.
“The only person responsible for carrying out either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out,” Sanders says, calling the media “outrageous” for blaming Trump for the last week’s wave of mailed pipe bombs and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting pic.twitter.com/AJnmoKWCOB
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 29, 2018
Huckabee Sanders points out that the person responsible is the person who carried the act out. Ultimately, yes. However, an Israeli newspaper published an opinion piece with the title, “Trump Didn’t Pull the Trigger on Jews in Pittsburgh, but He Certainly Prepped the Shooter.” The article starts out by calling the events of this past week, “the metastasization of Trumpism.” David Rothkopf, Haaretz:
While none of these acts came at the direct instigation of the president or the leadership of the GOP, it is undeniable that they were manifestations of a changed climate in America of which the current U.S. president is the most prominent author.
Indeed, in the same week they took place, the president and those closest to him in his party, held rallies at which the fury of crowds was deliberately stoked with chants targeting two of the targets of the bombing, Clinton and CNN. The president’s own rhetoric targeted others, like Representative Maxine Waters and George Soros.
The article then goes on to describe how Trump defenders deny what is to others an obvious causal connection between Trump’s rhetoric and violent events, and launch into false equivalency arguments — precisely like the one that Huckabee Sanders just gave today, when she invoked Bernie Sanders’ name with reference to the shooting of Steve Scalise. The baseball diamond shooter was purportedly a supporter of Sanders. While that may be the case, Sanders was not declaiming loudly against his enemies, real or imagined, with a media organ like Fox News accompanying him in the background, and specifically naming Steve Scalise, days before the shooting. Donald Trump was doing exactly those things. Further, the Israeli writer points out,”His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish and he moved the embassy to Jerusalem” – [are] as weak rejoinders go, just a stone’s throw from “Some of my best friends are Jewish.”
The slogan “America First” has clear anti-Semitic roots, which was pointed out to Trump in Spring, 2016. He refused to drop it. Indeed, far from dropping an anti-Semitic slogan, the GOP has gone on to embrace anti-Semitism more fully than since before WWII.
The GOP under his leadership has refused to repudiate such statements. Indeed, they have supported it. That has included everything from statements like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s now deleted tweet suggesting that Soros, businessman Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg were trying to “buy” the upcoming election, to GOP Representative Steve King’s recent endorsement of a neo-Nazi Canadian politician – just the latest example of King’s ugly embrace of anti-Semitism.
Trump’s signature activity on Twitter and at his rallies is bombast and attack, and it’s ludicrous to believe that such comments coming from a sitting American president are not going to have some effect on the culture.
Trump did not put the bombs in the mail or pull the trigger in Pittsburgh or Louisville, but he has contributed to a mood in which anti-Semitism has soared in America under his leadership, with anti-Semitic incidents rising 57 percent in 2017 alone, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That is the largest year-on-year increase in over four decades…it is the behavior of Trump and those around them that has given permission for the haters to step out from the shadows, and into a more visible role in American public discourse.
Meanwhile, even as Trump is leading chants of “Lock her up,” disparaging the IQ of a congresswoman, while praising a Republican congressman for body slamming a reporter, Kellyanne Conway has the hubris to get on Fox News and claim that Trump is “healing” the nation, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders manages to say with a straight face that, “The American people reject hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and violence.” That’s undoubtedly true as a whole, but the American *resident does not. He does everything from promising to pay the legal fees for people who attack protesters at one of his rallies to encouraging police officers to “not be too nice,” when arresting somebody and putting them in the back of a squad car. And how would you interpret this:
Trump to Iowa rally supporters: "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them." https://t.co/XYWs6uBRnb
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 1, 2016
That’s plain English. “If they protested once, they would not do so again, so easily.” That seems pretty clear as well. Take a look at a compilation of what Trump has actually said, and then his total gaslighting on the topic of violence.
And, incredibly, it keeps going on, with predictable results and yet Trump, flanked by Hanoi Hannah Huckabee Sanders and Baghdad Bob Kellyanne Conway, keep fanning the flames of both violence and denial, simultaneously. David Corn, Mother Jones:
The nature of conventional political media reality is allowing Trump, Sanders, and their whole crew to get away with this gaslighting. There is no penalty for such lies. There are no mechanisms for tossing these players out of the national discourse. There is no penalty for such profound prevarication. MSNBC commentators will howl. CNN anchors will point out the contradictions. But Fox News will defend, as many Republican elected officials will duck and cover, and, in the current tribalized environment, Trump supporters will cling ever tighter to his false statements and claims.
And Trump, Sanders, and Co. (this means you, Kellyanne Conway) have refined their ability to turn fact-based criticism into an affirmation for his audience. At the press briefing, Sanders, adhering to her boss’ practice, steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Trump shares an iota of blame for the sharp rhetoric and divisiveness that mars the current political culture. Instead, she cast an accusing finger at the media. By reporting on Trump’s deployment of hate, these organizations are apparently responsible for the toxicity that infects the political environment.
This is a deep hole. The Trumpers are promoting an alternative and perverse reality their supporters deeply need. (Without it, they are the bad guys for cheering on Trump, birtherism, the Soros conspiracies, and all the other hate-fueled drivel of the right.) And the media has a tough time reporting on a guy who repeatedly claims a blue sky is purple. Certainly, journalists have become bolder in pointing out Trump’s lies and falsehoods. (The Washington Post‘s fact-checker noted that Trump, as of early September, had uttered 5,001 false statements. The newspaper kept no such tally for George W. Bush or any other president.) Still, the media of today is not able to—or does not know how to—dismantle effectively and continuously the false reality Trump creates daily with his fusillade of tweets and that Sanders, Conway, and others bolster with their own nonsense and lies. (Conway claimed the Pittsburgh attack was motivated by anti-religiosity, as if atheists were at fault, instead of those who demagogue about a caravan of migrants in Central America and concoct connections to terrorists and George Soros.)
Trump’s genius has been his willingness to say, do and propose things so outlandish, so unsettling in tone and substance — so disqualifying under the old rules — that they’ve caused the system to malfunction. Trump looks at the mainstream press as a man holding a stack of thick cardboard sheets might look at an office copy machine. He knows if he sticks enough of them through the copier at once, the machine will jam.
No one like Trump has every shown up in presidential politics. The system wasn’t built for this. There is no mechanism to deal with a person like him, because no misfiring of democracy has ever happened like this before. And so the system has broken down, and it’s incumbent upon every one of us to realize this and to tolerate it no longer. That’s the first step. Boycott outlets that are part of the problem and not part of the solution.Then means need to be devised to insure that this can’t happen again. Something like a fact checking service, giving a brief report at the end of every day on exactly what lies were told would be a good beginning. We need to safeguard freedom of the press and blatant attacks on truth, so that this territory of dysfunctionalism that is Trump World becomes a thing of the past and is never revisited.
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