Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Nation Of Barbarians

Yesterday, Donald Trump accused Canadians of smuggling shoes across the border after they had "scuffed them up" a bit. There followed a host of lies about Canadian tariffs -- particularly dairy tariffs. Henry Giroux writes:

Trump has lied, along with a tsunami of other fabrications, about former president Barack Obama’s birthplace, he’s made false claims about why he did not win the popular vote, he’s stated he knew nothing about payments prior to his election to the porn star Stormy Daniels, and he’s wrongly declared that the U.S. is the highest taxed nation in the world.
He has falsely claimed 72 times that he passed the biggest tax cut in history; incorrectly states that he has eliminated Obamacare; and fallaciously argues that the Democrats were responsible for eliminating DACA (the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals that he terminated).

The lies now tumble out of his mouth in a daily barrage. And that barrage has become corrosive:

For Trump, lying has become a toxic policy for legitimizing ignorance and civic illiteracy. Not only does he relish lying repeatedly, he has also attacked the critical media, claimed journalists are enemies of the American people and argued that the media is the opposition party. His rallying cry, “fake news,” is used to dismiss any critic or criticism of his policies, however misleading, wrong or dangerous they are.

No where is Trump's corrosion more evident than in his policy -- not law -- to separate families at the border. For Trump language has become a political tool, not a harbinger of truth:

Under Trump, language operates in the service of civic violence because it infantilizes and depoliticizes the wider public, creating what Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl has called, in a different context, “the mask of nihilism.”
Trump’s endless fabrications echo the propaganda machines made famous in the fascist regimes of the 1930s. He values loyalty over integrity, and he lies in part to test the loyalty of those who both follow him and align themselves with his power.
Trump’s lying must be understood within a broader attack on the fundamentals of education and democracy itself. This is especially important at a time when the U.S. is no longer a functioning democracy and is in the presence of what sociologists Leonidas Donskis and the late Zygmunt Bauman referred to as a form “of modern barbarity.”

The United States has become a nation of barbarians. It is no longer a "shining city on a hill."

Image: You Tube


Lorne said...

And the latest, Owen, their withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, confirms the U.S. as a truly rogue nation.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely, Lorne. The United States is now unabashedly a fascist nation.

Anonymous said...

Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy, everything. -- GOP Governance Handbook, aka 1984.


Owen Gray said...

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever," --
Orwell in 1984. That's it precisely, Cap.

Owen Gray said...

You didn't initial your comment, Anon. But you've been here before under different monikers. And, as I've written before, you give yourself away every time you open your mouth or sit at your keyboard.

Anonymous said...

More like a shining merde heap on a hill. I've lost all respect for the US, Oen

Owen Gray said...

Trump's supporters don't understand what Trump has done to their country's reputation, Oen. (Perhaps you just mispelled my name, but I'll take that as an initial.) Or, what is worse, they don't care.

The Mound of Sound said...

For years the authoritarian segment of the American people were largely dormant, popping up every now and then with groups such as John Birch, but remaining mainly our of the public eye. Then an authoritarian charismatic rolls into town and they surface like human cicadas. It happened in Italy and in Germany in the 30s. It's happened now in the US.

When I was a kid, my dad and a couple of uncles still dealing with the carry-on effects of the war, I wondered how the German people became Nazis. I was studying piano and learned rudimentary versions of Bach, Handel, Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven. I couldn't understand how a culture that had produced such brilliance (oh sure, there was Wagner) could descend into such darkness. It was then that I began wondering were we really different, somehow immune to taking that same path. I didn't know and not knowing was itself deeply disturbing.

Here we are. The Americans have traditionally relied on their Constitution and Bill of Rights, instruments that date back to their national founding. Yet they've been kicking around for almost two and a half centuries without meaningful renewal, judges still pretending to grasp the intent of the "founding fathers" as though they were all knowing demi-gods. The bond between those instruments and the general public has atrophied.

In 1215 at Runnymede the Great Charter enshrined habeas corpus and the rule of law. No longer could prisoners be held indefinitely with neither charge nor trial. Prisoners, all prisoners, would have the right to come before a court to contest their imprisonment.

In the US, the rule of law and habeas corpus have gone out the window. Kidnappings in foreign lands, Guantanamo, black sites, enhanced interrogation, torture, indefinite detention, trial only if the military chooses to prosecute and then before a kangaroo court, depleted uranium shells, hyperbaric bombs that can suck a victim's lungs out through his throat, drone attacks, cluster weapons supplied for use against civilians by Israel and Saudi Arabia, Abu Ghraib, concentration camps for Mexican infants and toddlers stripped from their parents. And so Nikki Haley slams other nations as the US walks out of the Human Rights council even as her boss courts the favour of paragons of human rights such as Erdogan, Orban, Duterte and Kim. All this and more and yet the Americans get sanctimonious on their way out the door.

America always had its flaws but it also had periods, sometimes lasting decades, where it strove to become a better place. It made progress but that's all been washed away since 9/11. It has morphed into something dark, ominous and extremely ugly. They're not fooling anyone any longer.

Owen Gray said...

No, they're not, Mound. I, too, have wondered how the Germans, the Italians and the Spaniards could have been hoodwinked. It didn't and doesn't happen overnight. But watching Trump at work has neen a lesson in how civil society is corrupted -- and how it finally collapses.