July 31, 2019

‘He horrifies us by not submitting to us’ – Trump and the elite-pandering media

Daniel Jupp writes at Spectator USA:

For three years, we have been told what Donald Trump is. We have been told that he is a racist, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a white supremacist, a demagogue, a Russian spy. The charges vary from extreme, unproven and serious to the bizarrely particular and trivial. We have for instance been repeatedly told that it is important that he has tiny hands, or silly hair, or eats McDonald’s.

Whether or not you agree with the many criticisms of Trump, there is one charge that supporters and detractors admit the truth of: Trump is divisive. But what does that mean? It does not necessarily mean, as the mainstream media always tell us, that he should be hated or considered dangerous. It could just mean that he reveals the deep faultlines in contemporary politics. Ironically, it is the continual vicious determination of his opponents to tell us how to view him that causes these divisions. Anti-Trump invective has had an effect on both sides of the debate. It has hardened the attitudes of supporters and opponents to the point at which Trump is no longer discussed as if we are talking about a human being. To his enemies, he is everything that is wrong with traditional ‘white America.’ To supporters he is ‘God Emperor Trump’, the last defender of an embattled set of American values that are everywhere threatened.

He is not a person, nor even merely a president. He is a symbol.

The US is a nation which from its very inception has had a peculiar genius for turning men into symbols. George III was not merely a king, but for revolutionary polemicists the living symbol of tyranny. George Washington became a symbol of rectitude, endurance, perseverance. Sometimes whole groups of people assumed this symbolic role as personifications of good or evil: the Pilgrim Fathers, the Mountain Men, the Puritans, the settlers, the cowboys and the Indians. When we think of the US we think of a line of human beings elevated into the pantheon of symbols, and this is true whether we are talking about politics (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln), sport (Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens) or entertainment (Elvis, Monroe, Eastwood, Madonna). This is the nation that truly embraced and spread the idea of celebrity, and sometimes celebrity cut adrift from achievement.

Take last week’s outrage over his tweets against the so-called ‘Squad.’ These were reported as racist with no analysis of why that is the case. The outrage only emphasizes Trump’s transition from human to symbol. To huge numbers of people, the tweets represent racism, regardless of substance; that makes them racist. Trump himself seems to have a sense of this process and to deliberately guide it when he can. That is a major function of his Twitter account. He knows that the more hate is directed at him, the more supportive his own base, who have every reason to detest a media and a political elite that despises them, becomes.

The interesting aspect here is the ‘unsophisticated’ Trump voter understands exactly what Trump represents to his enemies, but the apparently sophisticated have no idea of what Trump represents to his supporters. They genuinely seem to think that these supporters want white nationalism or white supremacism, they believe their own fantasies about what the other side thinks. But the truth is that, as hateful as he is to his enemies, Trump represents something entirely different to his fans. He represents freedom.

The US heralds itself as the ‘land of the free’ but like all nations in which a large state is combined with a united political and media class, the lives of the ordinary citizen have become less free. More and more state bureaucracy means less and less individual liberty. The people who support Trump do so because they hate being hectored, bullied, and controlled by an increasingly intolerant ‘liberal’ minority with power. They don’t like being told what to think, what to say, what to do in every aspect of their lives. The instinct for freedom that told their ancestors to rebel against the British survives. Trump knows that.

Mainstream media talks a lot about Trump ‘doubling down’. It has done so in relation to the latest tweets scandal. Doubling down horrifies pundits. He says something that they find offensive, they scream and whine and distort the meaning of what was said, they use their magic attack words like ‘racist’, ‘white nationalist’ and ‘xenophobia’. They demand an apology, the backtrack.

But Trump doesn’t give them that. He denies the thrill of the fanatic, which is to see the chastised submit. Instead, he repeats himself. He points out that some countries are indeed ‘shitholes’. He points out that anyone who hates the country they reside in has the option of leaving. He ‘doubles down’, which is essentially media code for ‘he horrifies us by not submitting to us’. In this way he becomes a symbol of good for everyone who does not believe that he is a symbol of evil.

Trump’s greatest crime, and his greatest triumph, is to become a living example that you do not have to submit. You do not have to apologize. You do not have to back down, or grovel, or confess. You are free unless you accept your chains. What message is more hopeful or American than that?

July 19, 2019

Seacht n-óige na coille, an aeir, na mara, an talmhan

Seacht n-óige na coille: faoisceog, fuinnseog, sciachóg, beathóg, rudóg [roideog], fearnóg, daróg (vars. dreasóg, saileog)

Seacht n-óige an aeir: amhlóg, ailleog, luaireog, fuideog [feadóg], truideog [druid], spideog, seabhóg [searróg] (vars. buidheog [buíóg], uiseog [fuiseog], fionnóg [feannóg], tonnóg [tonóg])

Seacht n-óige na mara: madóg, hadóg (cadóg), luthróg [leathóg], leideog, faofóg [faochóg], báirneog, claosóg [crosóg] (vars. gobóg, crainneog [gráinneog])

Seacht n-óige an talmhan: iaróg [eareog], flanóg [flannóg], cnamhóg [crumhóg], luchóg (incomplete)

(Omeath, List of words, chiefly from Omeath, and Mid. Ulster by Rev. Lawrence Murray)

—from entry for “-óg, -eog”, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, Patrick Dinneen, 1927

Seven “óg” names of the forest: filbert, ash, whitethorn, bog-myrtle, alder, oak (briar, white willow)
Seven “óg” names of the air: jennet, swallow, sea-gull, plover, starling, robin, gunnel (yellow-hammer, lark, hooded crow, duck)
Seven “óg” names of the sea: lamprey, haddock, flat-fish, plaice, periwinkle, barnacle, starfish (eel, urchin)
Seven “óg” names of the earth: pullet, stoat, maggot, mouse

July 17, 2019

The misjudgement of history

The ever-tedious columnist at Vermont Digger, David Moats, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner, invokes a fire and brimstone judgement of history on border detention facilities. He even pulls in 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson to argue how loving and tolerant the Puritans were.

Reader Ruby Bode commented:

Marilynne Robinson’s apologia for the Puritans would appear to be an apologia in fact for the new McCarthyist witch hunt triggered by Trump winning the 2016 election, an attempt to bestow the moral righteousness of, e.g., John Brown (cf. Robinson’s “Gilead”) on antidemocratic sore losers. But she compares two actual governing codes (both from the south, of course [no apologia for those bastards!]) to a “list of proposals for good government written by the Puritan Hugh Peter”. Since the Puritans are indeed “commonly viewed as sexually repressed, witch-burning hysterics” (because they were), it would have been more interesting to explore the differences between Peter’s ideals and the realities of Puritan government.

[That’s exactly what the border issue is about: ideals versus reality.]

Bode also commented:

When you cross any border with a child, you have to have proof that you are the parent or legal guardian. That’s why “families” are separated until it can be determined that they are in fact families. If that weren’t done, there would be an outcry for not bothering to check. Furthermore, it’s rarely a whole “family” coming over. It’s usually just one parent and one child, who has been separated from the rest of the family to be used cynically as a prop to better game the famously laxly enforced border laws of the USA. As to the conditions of detention, Trump has been requesting [from day 1] the needed funding to adequately respond to the surges of would-be refugees, but the Dems (and many Repubs) have refused. One might think they would rather see children suffer so they can have something to grandstand on and beat up Trump about. Finally, there’s a big difference between immigration and illegally crossing the border.

[I would add that nobody among these New Puritans seems to be suggesting any solution other than shutting the whole legal system down, opening the borders (in only one direction of course) and giving anybody coming in full rights of residency, no limits, with no concern for American workers (immigrants recent and long ago) and plenty of profits for Wall St.]

Another reader, William Workman, commented:

Over and over, Democrats have overplayed their hands. They used the outrage over child separations to push catch-and-release of another 100,000 illegal immigrants. Trump blurs the line between illegal immigrants and hardened criminals, so Democrats blur the line between legal and illegal immigrants. Now every major Democratic candidate is on record as supporting decriminalizing border crossings, offering free health care, no deportations even for illegals violating court orders, and a path to citizenship. Now this column, which equates safely and respectfully deporting Vermont’s illegals with concentration camps. As though the law itself were immaterial.

Here’s another comment by Bode, to a commentary by writer Dan Close:

What about everyone who has refused to accept the result of the 2016 election? The elected and other officials who have pursued witch hunts and domestic regime change instead of embracing the workings of democracy? Those, like Dan Close, who cannot be honest about anything concerning President Trump, as if we have not had an increasingly imperial Presidency since Reagan? Trump is actually more lawful, much more transparent, and more progressive (regarding trade to benefit American workers instead of Wall St and war – no new ones, not even an actual coup, so far) than his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. If any[one] burns down the Reichstag, so to speak, it will be the Dems themselves – after committing to the destructive agendas of neoliberalism and neoconservativism – so they can blame it on Trump. It is dangerous projection.