Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Among the many similarities between the Trump people and the more overt alt-right is their common impulse to cover their more repulsive sentiments as jokes. Look at Trump's recent declaration that Democrats who didn't applaud him at the State of the Union might be traitors, and his spokesman Hogan Gidley's assurance that Trump was -- obvs! -- just kidding. The brethren took the hint; Dan McLaughlin of National Review portrays Trump's statement, unimaginable from any previous President, as gentle if totalitarian ribbing -- "the subversive, somewhat cleansing but ultimately corrosive part of Trump’s brand of political performance art," McLaughlin puts it, trying as best his shitty prose skills can manage to soften the "corrosive" part with an invocation of a Lenny Bruce for Bigots -- and asks the libs Are You Triggered:
...if you watch the actual video, you can see the flippancy here. Trump is plainly not being serious about treason – he’s playing this for laughs, and getting them – and liberals going to DEFCON 1 as if he is are yet again proving how little interest they have in distinguishing between tyranny and mere boorishness. The loss of perspective is just wearying to watch at this point.
I can imagine McLaughlin at the computer, musing: Am I wearied by the loss of perspective or amused by it? I assume he eventually flipped a coin.

This treason-amirite stuff is of a piece with other apparently serious and horrific Trump comments that his factota later disown as gags -- like asking Russia to steal Hillary Clinton's emails -- or that Trump himself laughs through, either to cover the violence or because he genuinely finds it funny, as when he light-heartedly told cops to smash suspects' heads into car doors.

And it really reminds me of the trollery of alt-right icons like Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional asshole who pretends, semi-successfully, that his slurs are a type of stand-up, and such elaborate kidding-not-kidding as the Chuck Johnson crowd claiming the OK sign as a white power symbol, then denying they did it.

I'm not sure to what extent these alt-right guys get encouragement from Trump,  or whether their outrages, fed to Trump in his morning memo, give him encouragement (though I'm pretty sure Trump's Me/Not Me development is sufficient retarded that, if he likes something, he assumes it originated with him). But the real meaningful resemblance between Trumpism and the alt-right isn't their compatible bigotry and viciousness; it's in their similarly bland insistence that it's all just a joke that you'd be a Fool and a Chump and Triggered to take seriously (unless you're people like the Kochs and DeVoses who have big money to promote it, in which case please take it very seriously indeed!). It's like every up-and-coming wingnut is, in the manner of Trump advisor Stephen Miller, that one friend everyone had in high school who made outrageously vicious statements and, when he didn't get laughs, told everyone to lighten up -- only expanded into a movement with millions of followers.

Now even some old-time, credentialed conservative writers are picking this up. Here's Robert VerBruggen on the recent analysis by Washington Post reporters who found, sure enough, the immigration restrictions Trump has promoted with volley after volley of racist vomit would in fact keep America whiter for a few more years -- which news, I don't think it's unreasonable to believe, would thrill a substantial portion of Trump's base, if they ever read high-falutin' big-city papers like the Post.  Now, VerBruggen is one of National Review's more obvious racists, but still paper-trained in the classic Buckley manner so he's unlikely get kicked out for being too obvious like John Derbyshire -- and now that he's caught on to the New Breed's why-so-serious style, he's got a fresh new way to cover his tracks:
Now the Washington Post has done the yeoman’s work of calculating how the [Trump] framework would affect the demographics of the nation as a whole, and you won’t believe how pale everyone will be a quarter-century from now if we let Orange Hitler have his way... 
In 2044 this country will be only about 47 to 49 percent nonwhite, instead of 50 percent. The Make America White Again plan could delay the dawn of a majority-minority United States, currently expected to arrive 26 years from now, by one to five years. In wanting to stop immigrants from bringing over chains of distant relatives with no regard for their skills, Trump is clearly motivated by nothing other than — come on now, don’t be shy to say it — racism.
Ha? Well, I didn't say he was smooth about it. But that doesn't matter. In fact, a certain clumsiness goes with the territory -- to successfully tell a joke, after all, you have to have at least a little joy in your soul that you wish to express, but to these guys, "joking" is just a formal strategy for the very serious business of realizing their will to power. I mean, look at The Daily Wire's response to Jimmy Kimmel's gag about conservatives not being smart enough to do late night TV -- "7 Conservative Talk Show Hosts Who Are Smarter Than Jimmy Kimmel." (Here's a taste: "Dennis Prager is the longtime host of The Dennis Prager Show and author of eight books on theology, history, and politics..." Stop, yer killing me!) Trying to disprove Kimmel's point with actual humor isn't even an option. Humor isn't their strong suit. But, like the Soviet functionaries who used to squeeze out Krokodil every month, they'll pretend, because they dimly perceive that it brings down the defenses of those Earth People they're trying to sucker. And, who knows, maybe it even helps them fool themselves.

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