Monday, January 04, 2016

Trump promises to keep the vermin out

Brian Beutler, spotlighting the naked racism in Trump's disgusting ad, sensibly provides only a silent gif rather than giving the ad itself additional exposure:

A handful of observations about this image and the ad:

1.  The image, meant to evoke Mexican's storming the U.S. but actually showing migrants trying to enter a Spanish enclave in Morocco, was obviously selected to invoke invading hordes. But why the aerial view? The tiny swarming figures evoke more an infestation -- of vermin, or bacteria -- than a human endeavor.  As Alexander Hurst noted recently in Donald Trump and the Politics of Disgust, Trump is a germophobe who often expresses disgust with bodily fluids (sweat, urine, breast milk, menstrual blood) -- traits that correlate with xenophobia. His most grossly abusive statements and images connect with his base on a gut level. This image is his campaign in a gutshell.

2. The ad promises that Trump will "quickly cut the head off ISIS, and take their oil" and that he'll "stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for."  The first is an image of despoilment as visceral -- or more visceral -- than that of a warrior in the Iliad stripping a corpse of its armor: it's as if the oil flows out of the beheaded enemy. Together with making Mexico pay to keep America pure, the image is of taking. It recalls Trump's longstanding practice filing or threatening baseless lawsuits against anyone who crosses him or is perceived to have slighted him, from bondholders he's stiffed to a reporter asking uncomfortable questions. His henchmen adopt his language of despoilment and disgust, as in this threat to sue reporters Tim Mak and Brad Zadrozny for uncovering his ex-wife's testimony that he raped her:
“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen said.

“So I’m warning you, tread very f---ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting. You understand me?”
3. The ad also repeats the language from a Trump press release proposing "a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what's going on." The wording in that last phrase is so odd and vague that when I read the initial statement in which it appeared, I thought it was the product of haste, perhaps from a junior staffer (Trump has blamed junior staff for retweeting Nazis in his name). It sounds like something out of The Onion. But by now it's obvious that the vagueness is deliberate, stoking a paranoia without borders. What's going on where? With whom? With our Kenyan-born Muslim president? Hillary with her deep designs in Benghazi?

Trump may lack the ruthlessness or the follow-through or the communal eroticism of a true fascist leader.  But he's got the disgust, the obsession with purity, and the paranoid aggression in spades. It's all there in a 30-second spot.

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