Hu­man­ity goes into rewind

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­press.co.za

Last week­end, Wash­ing­ton, DC, hosted a gath­er­ing of some of Amer­ica’s most ra­bid racists. About 200 peo­ple from around the US gath­ered at the Ronald Rea­gan Build­ing and In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­ter, not far from the White House, to talk about the place of the white man in this world.

They were meet­ing un­der the ban­ner of the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute, an out­fit ded­i­cated “to the her­itage, iden­tity and fu­ture of peo­ple of Euro­pean des­cent in the US and around the world” and to “the re­vival and flour­ish­ing of our peo­ple”.

This time, the an­nual con­fer­ence of this in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial right wing think-tank was tak­ing place at a fine time for white su­prem­a­cists. About a week ear­lier, Don­ald Trump – the only pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in mod­ern US his­tory to have cam­paigned on a plat­form of big­otry – was elected to the White House.

Richard Spencer, pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute, whipped up the crowd with a chant of “Hail Trump, hail our peo­ple, hail vic­tory!” Some said the “hail” may have been “heil”.

Spencer bel­lowed that Amer­ica was, “un­til this last gen­er­a­tion, a white coun­try, de­signed for our­selves and our pos­ter­ity. It is our cre­ation and our in­her­i­tance, and it be­longs to us.”

Like Trump’s prom­ise to de­port mil­lions of for­eign­ers and to ban Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the US, Spencer’s lot want to em­bark on “peace­ful eth­nic cleans­ing”.

Like other big­ots, misog­y­nists and phobes of all kinds, Spencer and the re­ac­tionary ide­ol­ogy that he has branded alt-right have been en­er­gised by Trump’s vic­tory. The alt-right move­ment, which has been openly sup­ported by Trump’s cam­paign man­ager and right-hand man Stephen Ban­non, was de­scribed by the New York Daily News as the “KKK [Ku Klux Klan] with­out the hoods”.

Spencer has ar­gued that, even though the pres­i­dent elect and his peo­ple are not open about this, their move­ment and the Trump train are united by the fact that white iden­tity lies at the heart of their be­liefs. In his own words: “Be­fore Trump, our iden­tity ideas, na­tional ideas, they had no place to go.”

Ac­cord­ing to the New Repub­lic, Spencer boasted to jour­nal­ists that “I do not think Don­ald Trump is alt-right ... but I do think that we have a ... you could say ... a psychic con­nec­tion or a deeper con­nec­tion with Don­ald Trump in a way that we sim­ply do not have with most or all Repub­li­cans”.

Amer­i­can Nazi Party chair Rocky Suhayda has also raved about Trump, say­ing: “Per­haps The Don­ald is for real.” An­other en­dorse­ment came from the hooded guys. The Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke was over the moon about Trump’s vic­tory, declar­ing that it boded well for his own elu­sive at­tempts at po­lit­i­cal of­fice. “I love it. The fact that Don­ald Trump’s do­ing so well, it proves that I’m win­ning. I am win­ning,” he said.

There are many who were hope­ful that, hav­ing been elected pres­i­dent, Trump would leave his elec­tion cam­paign ver­biage be­hind and awake to the re­al­ity of gov­er­nance – that his dan­ger­ous teach­ings were just fod­der to be chewed by gullible masses.

They be­lieved the cold shower of re­al­ity would hit him upon his ar­rival at 116 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue. How wrong they were.

Last week­end’s gath­er­ing was just one ex­am­ple of how the Trump pres­i­dency will be as bad and as scary as feared – and it could be worse than we think. He in­spired the worst el­e­ments of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety to em­brace their prej­u­dices and flaunt them pub­licly, hence the com­fort with which the Spencers of this world can make Nazi salutes and spew trash about blacks, His­pan­ics and Jews just a stone’s throw from the White House – they know it will soon be oc­cu­pied by one of their own.

In­side the White House, they will have an even more im­por­tant ally than the pres­i­dent. Ban­non, the man Trump has ap­pointed as his chief po­lit­i­cal strate­gist – a po­si­tion that will be even more pow­er­ful than chief of staff – al­lowed the alt-right free rein on the pages of his con­ser­va­tive Bre­it­bart News web­site. He even pro­claimed that the web­site was “the plat­form for the alt-right”.

That man is run­ning things, help­ing Trump put to­gether his ad­min­is­tra­tion. With a few ex­cep­tions, the types of in­di­vid­u­als who have been drawn into the Trump tran­si­tion team and the names of those who have been tapped for Cabi­net po­si­tions tell a story of the hor­ri­ble fu­ture that awaits the world.

But the scari­est thing about the Trump ma­chine is the demons it has un­leashed and will con­tinue to un­leash. Spencer and his ilk are just the Amer­i­can ver­sion of this Ne­an­derthaloid tribe. All over the world, right-wingers are rel­ish­ing this mo­ment. Back­ward­ness is in fash­ion. In Europe – where na­tional and mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are due to be held in sev­eral coun­tries next year – a shift to the right is ex­pected.

South Africans should not see the Trump phe­nom­e­non as a far­away event that only has eco­nomic and geopo­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions. His role as an in­spi­ra­tion to re­ac­tionary forces is go­ing to be very pro­found. In Trump, they have found a hero, some­one to be­lieve. They have found some­one who will say in pub­lic what closet big­ots can only say be­hind closed doors to those they trust to have sim­i­lar stand­points.

Hu­man­ity has just pressed the rewind but­ton.

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