Love Trumps Hate: The Descent Of Donald Trump into the American Psyche and the Dissent of the People
By Denny Taylor
“Love Trumps Hate!” a crowd of many thousands at an anti-Trump rally shouted on Central Park West outside the Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle on Sunday November 13th
This anti-Trump demonstration followed the protest march on Saturday November 12, which had begun in Union Square and moved north on Broadway to Trump Tower, the 58-story home of Donald Trump.
“Not my president!” the angry crowd shouted in unison on Saturday as they reached the police barricades across Fifth Avenue one block from Trump Tower and forced the marchers to loop over to Sixth Avenue and back crowding the block in front of the Tower and the blocks between West 55th and 57th street.
The signs at both protests were graphic: Trump Racist Fascist Misogynist; Fight the Billionaire; Dump Trump; Respect Existence or Expect Resistance; Aqui Estamos Nos Vamos (Here to stay); I protest for the Black Lives taken from us and for the Muslim lives that are threatened.”
But the atmosphere at the Sunday anti-Trump rally was more peaceful. “Yesterday was good for our souls,” a teacher said who had participated in the Saturday protest.
“We won’t stop,” a woman said, on Sunday at Columbus Circle. She was holding up a sign on which was written, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascists.” The woman had brought her young daughter and niece to the demonstration and they were holding up the signs they had made. Her daughter had written “Trump Trump Go Way Racist Sexist Anti Gay”, and her niece had written “When We Stand United Hate Can’t Divide Us”.
Her young daughter was leading many of the shout-outs including “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Donald Trump has got to go!”
Her daughter tried a new shout out, “We can’t live like this . . .”
“Not catchy enough,” her mother said laughing.
“Boycott Trump!” her daughter shouted and people around her began to shout with her.
“We’ll keep it up for four years if we have to,” her mother said, “but he’ll be gone before then”
She might be right. It is a long time since so many Americans have taken to the streets and there have been only a few occasions when they have done so with such determination and fervor and each time they triumphed. The suffragettes succeeded and women got the vote, Civil Rights activists succeeded and segregation was outlawed and African Americans got the vote, and when anti-war protesters took to the streets across the United States the Vietnam War ended.
It can be done. The people have the power when they coalesce. The protesters, rich and poor, of every hue it is possible for a human being to be, of different ethnicities and religions, old and young, little children and babies, immigrants and citizens alike were standing together in solidarity. Together they embodied the idea that “Love Trumps Hate.” It was not just a group of angry people holding up signs shouting. They were joking and laughing with one another acting out the sign, “Make America Love Again.”
On the edge of the crowd at the entrance to Central Park three neatly dressed young men, tall and white, were standing watching the people participating in the anti-Trump demonstration. One of the young men was crying and his two companions had aghast looks on their faces as they surveyed the vast crowd of people who were so peacefully standing with their anti-hate signs protesting against Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States.
The young man who was crying said something to his companions and with angry looks on their faces they turned away. But the crown did not notice, they were shouting in unison – “The people united will never be defeated!”
Few would argue that Trump has brought out the best and the worst in America. He has exposed both the nation’s capacity to love and to hate. He has put the vulnerable and all those who care for and about them on notice that they are not safe, and he has created a space for white hate groups, many members of armed militias, to move out of the shadows into mainstream society – which they have done committing vile acts of hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports 200 incidents of hate crimes between November 9 and 11. Anti-Black and Anti-immigrant incidents were far and away the most reported with anti-Muslim being the third most common. LINK
Examples of the Trump related hateful harassment and intimidation that occurred in the first three days following the presidential election are included on the SPLC website including:
My 12 year old daughter is African American. A boy approached her and said, “now that Trump is president, I’m going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find”
“Death to Diversity” was written on a banner displayed on our library for people to see, as well as written on posters across campus. As well as white males going up to women saying that it was now “legal to grab them by the pussy”.
I was standing at a red light waiting to cross the street. A black truck with three white men pulled up to the red light. One of them yelled, “Fuck your black life!” The other two began to laugh. One began to chant “Trump!” as they drove away.
The KKK has endorsed Trump with SPLC reprinting the Tweet by David Duke in which he states, “Our people played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”
While the extreme right in the U.S. and U.K. (Nigel Farage) support Trump, so do poor older white women who have had hard lives and believe Trump when he says he will Make American Great Again (MAGA). It’s an odd combination — men with Swastika tattoos and grandmothers in pink and yellow cardigans make excuses for his sewer of a mouth and, say it’s just the way he talks. “He doesn’t mean it,” they say. But anything is possible if you are making it all up and don’t have a moral base on which your participation in society is grounded. You can say one thing and then other, appeal to this group and then to that group, and gather people susceptible to that kind of talk around you.
It is a different kind of vulnerability than being of color, a woman, or immigrant. Many people in human societies are vulnerable to indoctrination and mass psychology. In the mid 1930’s an English teacher was in Germany and attended a Hitler youth rally at which he heard Hitler say, “We want you to be peace-loving and strong.”
And the English teacher said he felt himself getting caught up in the moment, the energy, the excitement, the noble ideal, and he raised his arm with the youth attending the rally and shouted “Heil Hitler!” with them.
Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:
. . . all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.
No matter what amount of talent is employed in the organisation of propaganda, it will have no result if due account is not taken of these fundamental principles. Propaganda must be limited to a few simple themes and these must be represented again and again. Here, as in innumerable other cases, perseverance is the first and most important condition of success
Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd.
Trump used Hitler’s technique just as effectively as Hitler did. Here is Trump and some of his recurring messages that he repeated over and over throughout the presidential campaign”
I will make America first, again. America first!
Our country is going bad. We’re going to save our country.
We cannot be so politically correct anymore.
It’s unfair what’s happened to the people of our country and we’re going to fix it.
I will outline reforms to add millions of new jobs,
I will restore law and order to our country. The crime and violence … will soon, and I mean very soon, will come to an end.
We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.
These themes and were repeated at every rally, and Trump built his base using the same fundamental principles of propaganda Hitler outlined in Mein Kampf. There are disturbing similarities – as well as differences – between Germany in the 1930’s and the United States in the second decade of the 21st century, but here we will stick to the susceptibility of some people in society to the propaganda that Hitler used and Trump is now using to secure his base.
Trump supporters defend Trump and can be heard in TV and radio interviews saying:
Donald Trump has pulled off a miracle.
I think I know him. He loves America.
He’s not a racist.
He’s not a bigot.
Special interests on the left are setting him up for their short-term interests.
He did say incredible vociferous things and people took him seriously – I did not.
Let’s not pretend. I was against him, but I think Trump will re-imagine American society.
Anyone who sees the negative side of him is not being truthful.
The greatest danger confronting the people in the United States and around the world is their exorable desire to normalize Trump’s behavior. Again there are parallels with the British Parliament and Neville Chamberlain’s blinding desire to normalize the behavior of Adolf Hitler.
“This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler,” Chamberlain announced when he landed at Heston Airport on September 30, 1938, “and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine…. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” LINK Oxford Book of Modern Quotes(pdf)
Eleven months later on September 3, 1939, Chamberlain broadcast from the Cabinet Rooms at 10 Downing Street, “It is evil things that we will be fighting against—brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution—and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”
The desire for normality is a phenomenon that we are experiencing today.
Rationalization and even victimization is exemplified by one woman’s struggle to find a way forward in her thinking about Trump. “He’s a deeply wounded man,” she said, “and respect could heal him.”
Don’t be fooled.
Across the country thousands of people are volunteering to accompany people targeted by Trump – immigrants, Muslims, African Americans to work each day because of the sharp rise in harassment and hate crimes.
Here’s the message from Morris Dees, Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center:
Like you, I’m very concerned about the future of our nation. I never imagined that the election of a new president would result in Nazi swastikas being spray-painted on businesses and middle school students being bullied with chants of “build the wall.”
Just since Election Day, SPLC has:
- Exposed Trump’s transition team members’ extremist links
- Provided teachers with free resources to help them heal the scars the campaign left on students
- Alerted the country to white supremacists’ reaction to Trump’s victory
- Begun tracking incidents of racist harassment linked to Trump’s accession
- Launched a petition telling Donald Trump to publicly reject hatred and bigotry
P.S. Please set an example in your community. Speak out against hate and bigotry whenever and wherever you see it.
Simon Schama in FT Weekend November 12/13 argues that this is not a moment to “calm down.” He writes:
Bowing to the judgment of the polls does not entail a suspension of dissent, especially, when, as in this case, the election involves shameless suppression of votes, the politicization of the FBI and the cyber-interference of the Russians.
Schama lays out what is on the line: the repeal of the Affordable Care Act depriving 25 million Americans of insurance; the overthrow of the Roe v Wade ruling on abortion; the repudiation of the Paris Climate Agreement; the abandonment of the Iran nuclear agreement, and so much more.
Whatever rises from the rubble of liberalism’s debacle must never repeat that mistake. The decencies of modern life need to be argued with militant passion and broadcast to places where it can be heard by people who don’t read broadsheets. What neither America not the rest of the world can afford right now is to keep calm and carry on.
Still, maintaining the importance of the peaceful transition of power, President Obama did say in a Special News Conference on Monday November 15, that Trump had “executed one of the biggest political upsets in history.” Obama spoke of “folks missing the Trump phenomenon” adding “I don’t think he is ideological.”
One reporter asks him if he has concerns.
“Do I have concerns? Absolutely I absolutely have concerns,” Obama says. “He and I have many policy differences.”
Several times Obama talked about the importance of how the new President staffs the White House, as Trump announces Steve Bannon, who is considered a white supremacist and racist, as his chief strategist.
At the press conference another asked about the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Climate Change?” Obama says, “If Trump does not follow through our kids will be choked off.”
So what insights can we take from President Obama as we prepare for vigilance and, when necessary, dissent? At the press conference Obama encouraged us to consider the ideals and principles that ensure the United States is inclusionary and not exclusionary. If we can hold to this ideal all others will fall into place.
At the anti-Trump Rally at Columbus Circle the crowd was unified in their commitment to this ideal.
“When We Stand United Hate Can’t Divide Us,” the niece of the mother with the little girl had written on her sign.
Protesters shouted, “The people united will never be defeated!” Over and over. “The people united will never be defeated!”
And by their dissent, they rejected the temptation to normalize Trump’s descent into the American psyche.
Dissent. Be peaceful. Yes. But not silent. Dissent.