Fascism Is the Core of Trump’s Message

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There is at times an extraordinary, almost deafening quality to silence; the absence of noise can be dignified and powerful. The jazz great Thelonious Monk once went so far as to claim that “the loudest noise in the world is silence.”

In that silence, that Signal, one often hears the rhythms of introspection; the timbre of careful thought and logic, the teasing out of ideas. Inside that silence, if one is thinking about a person recently deceased, one can ponder the philosophical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual values they embodied.

This is what the Ruth Bader Ginsburg vigils were like around the country: silent, calm, sorrowful affairs over which the jurist’s legacy hung, so omnipresent that it needed no amplification. I attended the one in Sacramento on Saturday night; hundreds of people, holding candles, walked quietly and mournfully around the perimeter of the capitol. There were similar events all over the country.

Imagine, by contrast, what a vigil for Donald Trump will look and sound like when he dies. It’s difficult to imagine that it will be calm or quiet, that it will be a time to ponder the caliber of his ideas or his humanity. Any silence at that moment would be a vacuum-like quiet, an absence of introspection, a void, rather than a seedbed of moral contemplation. Far more likely that his wake would be a rowdy, yahoo-esque affair, an excuse for bile and bigotry to flare up with wretched, final abandon. For there is no dignity in Trump, and no matter how much he craves the love of the crowd, there will be no dignity when pondering his absence.

Talking of dignity and its lack, consider for a moment the toxic stream of consciousness that passed for a Trump campaign speech in Minnesota this weekend.

Now, I have no desire to amplify the man’s Noise needlessly, but given that he is hard at work pressuring the GOP-controlled Senate to barrel ahead in confirming a Supreme Court justice, and given that Ted Cruz made the reasoning for such haste shockingly and shamelessly clear on Fox News (that they expect to take legal battles surrounding the election results up to the Supreme Court, and Cruz doesn’t want to risk a 4-4 split verdict), it’s worth pondering for a second the programmatic fascism at the core of Trump’s Minnesota message: The police shooting by rubber bullet of a journalist reporting on protests against police violence is “the most beautiful thing” and helps enforce “law and order.” Refugees are bad, and his overwhelming white audience there has “good genes” (and, while we’re at it, Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee merits a whole heap of praise and respect). And political opponents ought to be arrested and prosecuted—not for particular crimes, since he listed none that the ones he named (Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib) might be guilty of, but simply because he doesn’t like them.

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