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“Overheard” in Trumpland

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I recently had occasion to “eavesdrop” on an exchange between Trump supporters on, a “news” site that has slid further and further in my estimation of its credibility. In this case I was looking at an article about a Trump rally in Florida stressing its substantial turnout and belittling the rest of the media for not telling the world about the huge turnout. (It estimated some 8,000 attendees in the stadium.) There was much gnashing of teeth in the comments section and bitter recriminations against media perfidy. What follows is a small sample of the exchanges that were posted (names blanked out to preserve anonymity):

xxxxxx • 14 hours ago
Not sure why that matters since no one is shooting ANYONE who deserves it.

xxxxx • an hour ago
Little bit of a Hillary supporter? Or a Rino?

xxxxx • an hour ago
No, but those are the people who should be shot.

xxxxx • an hour ago
Gotta be careful with our language until Trump is elected. Trump 2016!

Be careful until???? And after his election what? Then it’s okay to speak publicly about shooting those who aren’t with Trump? Another exchange followed immediately:

xxxxxx • 14 hours ago
If I was president, the lying press members would not be allowed at any press conference or in the White House.

xxxxxx • 14 hours ago
All thrown in jail for treason.

So these Trumpeniks are fantasizing about shooting and jailing those of us who disagree with them? If there was ever a good reason to steer clear of Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency, here it is. It’s long been clear that Trump’s bitter outrage, which apparently resonates with many because it echoes their own feelings, speaks to certain kinds of people. We have Klansmen and neo-Nazis responding positively to his message, even when Trump, himself, disavows them (however half-heartedly since he is always loath to disavow anyone who comes before him to pledge their faith and fealty). Seeing these kinds of Trump “followers” speak in the black and white of a text message on a computer screen can hardly fail to excite the antennas of those of us still sensitive to the brutal messages which fascists and dictators everywhere and in every era espouse.

No demagogue can do what he does unless those who listen are ready to be demagogued — and every aspirant to demagogery knows this and so enters into an implicit compact with the demagogued.

Trump says he “disavows” the racists and Klansmen who embrace his message when he is pressed to do so but, as the evidence continues to demonstrate, that doesn’t mean they also disavow him. William Johnson, a corporate lawyer from Los Angeles, who runs a white nationalist political party according to ABC News, said not long ago that “Donald Trump has two of the three components that white nationalists support: He’s a populist and he wants to control our borders and that’s good for us.” Could he have been any clearer?

So taken with Trump was Mr. Johnson, in fact, that he recorded a robo call for him according to ABC News which said, in part, that “the white race is being replaced by other peoples in America and in all white countries. Donald Trump stands strong as a nationalist.”

Trump may not say those kinds of things in his stump speeches or on cable news shows, and he may “disavow” them when pressed, but his message of closing borders, booting out illegal aliens en mass, restricting Muslims from coming here, etc., etc., finds a receptive audience in people like William Johnson, a man who says he wants all immigration outlawed, according to ABC and “almost all nonwhites . . . deported.” In a 1985 book Mr. Johnson argued that race mixing and diversity have caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States.

How far removed is all this from Trump’s own railings against the adverse consequences of immigration from Mexico and the Middle East? He may say he is no racist and perhaps, if racism is sufficiently narrowly defined he isn’t. But his words strike the right chords — both among self-avowed racists and among those who want to shoot their opponents and jail those who don’t tow their particular party line.

In the New Testament Matthew quotes Jesus:

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. . . by their fruits you will know them.”

And by their fruits — and the words of their supporters — we do.

About Stuart W. Mirsky

Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official who last served as Assistant Commissioner for Operations in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before retiring in 2002, wrote a column, "The Rockaway Irregular," for The Wave, a south Queens based weekly, for more than a decade (until Hurricane Sandy changed the equation). He is an original founder of the Rockaway Republicans, one of the most active Republican groups in southern Queens, and author of a number of books, including The King of Vinland's Saga, an historical novel of the Norse in 11th century North America, A Raft on the River, a memoir of Holocaust survival, and Choice and Action, a work of contemporary philosophy addressing the implications of relativism and nihilism for our moral beliefs.

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