Donald Trump and American’s “cherished history” of white supremacy

As we discussed yesterday, included in Donald Trump’s scripted comments about the domestic terrorist attack that left one woman dead and nineteen injured over this past weekend in Charlottesville, was the phrase, “cherish our history.” It’s something that stood out to me when I first heard the President say it, and it’s something that I’ve kept coming back to over the past 24 hours, wondering how it found its way into a speech ostensibly intended to prove definitively that our nation isn’t, as it appeared in the immediate aftermath of the attack, being led by a full-blown white supremacist.

It is, I don’t think anyone can deny, a phrase intended as a gift to those in the white nationalist community who had set their sights on Charlottesville after a decision had been made by members of the town’s city council to take down a statue of Robert E Lee that had been erected in 1924, at a time when the “Invisible Empire” of the KKK was gaining traction across the American South. My guess is that it was either Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller, both of whom have significant ties to the white nationalist community, who suggested that the phrase be tacked onto the end of the sentence about how we should all love and respect one another.

“We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history,” Trump read from the teleprompter.

And, make now mistake, Trump meant the history of the fascists, not the antifascists, when he said “our,” the same way he meant “us” when he said to the press earlier this afternoon, “What about the alt-left that came charging at us – excuse me – that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right?” These neo-Nazi fascists are his people. He’s one of them. And there can be no more denying that.

And that’s why he can’t afford to lose them. That’s why, after being coerced into rebuking the members of his white supremacist base, he had to immediately say that he was thinking of pardoning racist sheriff Joe Arpiao. And, you can bet it’s why the phrase “cherish our history” was added. It was, in their estimation, just enough of a racist dog whistle to keep the far right from abandoning them, while not inviting more anger from the non-racists of America, who were still upset that the president had suggested that “both sides” – the racists and those who oppose them – were equally to blame.

At any rate, for the past several hours, I’ve found myself in this weird space, humming the song “Cherish” by The Association, while images flash though my mind of klansmen anonymously terrorizing communities, young black men being lynched, and the birth of the American Nazi party… I’m admittedly not a very good graphic designer, so you’ll have to excuse my craft, but here are a few of the images that came immediately to mind when thinking about this cherished history of President Donald Trump and America’s white supremacists.

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14 Comments

  1. Rick
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Prez needs a bath with a toaster.

  2. Eel
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    By cherished history he’s referring to an imaginary time when men like those marching with guns in Charlottesville would have been successful plantation owners. It’s fantasy though. These men would have been sharecroppers at best. They think, if they could just go back in time things would be different, but they wouldn’t.

  3. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, Eel. Do you want to discuss your method for determing the inferiority/superiority of one kind of farmer over the other? Luck with the rain? Access to the farmers almanac? Is access to capital the main distinguishing characteristic?Vulnerability? Desperation? Poverty level?

  4. Lynne
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Really?! FF, do you really need someone to explain to you why being the owner of a plantation in the slave-holding era of the south might be considered a superior position to a certain sort of person than being a sharecropper?

  5. Eel
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    My point was simple. These men who gravitate toward fraternal organizations like the KKK do so because they believe that, if not for browned skin people and affirmative action, they’d be happier, more successful, more wealthy, more sexually satisfied. You name it. The truth is, though, they’d still be failures. If every non-white person left the United States tomorrow, they’d still be losers. Maybe the sharecropper analogy was clumsy, but my point is that they won’t be the plantation master if this world they’re trying to create comes to pass. They’ll be several rungs down that ladder.

  6. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The men, you initially singled out, Eel, as “marching with guns in Charlottesville” were from various militias comprised mostly of retired military and veterans. Are they losers and failures? I wonder what their various military ranks were? Pretty low, right? It’s not like someone sympathetic to their cause would ever be able to be commander and chief or anything like that….

    In my opinion joining the KKK or a similar organization pretty much makes a person a total loser but when I call them that name it has nothing to do with their economic status. Do you know if there is evidence, like a study, that correlates low economic status with membership in one of those kinds of organizations?

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Most of the militias present were neutral about the rally, but support 1sy and 2nd amendment rights. They acted as medics and behaved laudibly and have provided a necessary neutral perspective on the events at the rally. They should be distinguished from those attending the rally to support white supremacy. Those attendees were instructed not to wear paramilitary gear but to wear khakis and polos instead.

  8. Jcp2
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    To Eel’s point:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450501/white-nationalists-what-do-they-want

  9. M
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    From Jcp2’s National Review article, for those not inclined to follow links:

    What does an angry white boy really want?

    “A girlfriend,” comes the mocking answer, and there’s probably more to that than mockery. The proprietor of one of the nation’s premier websites for neo-Nazi knuckleheads advised his colleagues in Charlottesville that, after the protest — which included a murder — “random girls will want to have sex with you.” I ran this proposition past a few random girls, and I suspect that the apfelstrudelführers are going to go home disappointed. There are many shades of white, and Mom’s-basement white is the least popular crayon in the box.

    Of course we should mock them, criticize them, lament them, and, in the case of James Alex Fields Jr., the trust-funder from Ohio charged in the death of Heather Heyer, prosecute them. What does James Alex Fields Jr. want? A transcript of a 911 call from his mother describes him beating her after she told him to stop playing a particular video game. She is disabled and uses a wheelchair. That wasn’t the only 911 call she made in fear of her son.

    The angry white boys do not have a serious political agenda. They don’t have any straightforward demands like the Teamsters or PETA do, and they do not have a well-developed ideological position like the Communists do, though it would be inaccurate to say that they lack an ideology entirely. Their agenda is their anger, an anger that is difficult to understand. Middle-class white men in the United States of America in anno Domini 2017 have their problems, to be sure. Life is full of little disappointments. But their motive is not to be found in their exterior circumstances, which are pretty good.

    Maybe too good: A great many of these young men have an interest in evolutionary psychology and evolutionary sociology — they like to think of themselves as “alpha males,” as though they were living in a chimpanzee troop — but it never occurs to them to consider their own status as rejects and failed men in that context. Online fantasy lives notwithstanding, random girls do not want to have sex with them. How do we know this? Because they are carrying tiki torches in a giant dork parade in Charlottesville. There’s no prom queen waiting at home. If we credit their own sociobiological model, they are the superfluous males who would have been discarded, along with their genetic material, by the pitiless state of nature. The fantasy of proving that they are something else is why they dream of violence and confrontation. They are the products of the soft liberal-democratic society they hold in contempt — and upon which they depend, utterly. James Alex Fields Jr. is angry at the world, and angry at his mother, probably for the same reason.

    What does an angry white boy want? The fact that they get together to play dress-up — to engage in a large and sometimes murderous game of cowboys and Indians — may give us our answer. They want to be someone other than who they are. That’s the great irony of identity politics: They seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links. What they are engaged in isn’t politics, but theater: play-acting in the hopes of achieving catharsis. Their online personas — knights, Vikings, reincarnations of Charles Martel — will be familiar enough to anybody with a Dungeons and Dragons nerd in his life. But sometimes, role-playing around a card table isn’t enough: Sometimes, you need a stage and an audience. In the theater, actors and audience both can forget ourselves for an hour or two. Under the soft glow of the tiki torches, these angry white boys can be something else — for a night.

    In the morning, they wake up with the same faces. And there is something in the faces. James Alex Fields Jr. has more than a little whiff of Dylann Roof about him, and we know what Dylann Roof wanted: to murder black people. Sometimes, it is worth taking angry white boys at their word.

  10. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Angry white boy leftists pretending to be white supremacists in Vanguard America’s case. If you don’t watch the VA larping vids you are a fraud. This shit is so transparent. Jason Kessler, the leftist? What does it feel like to bitch out on reality just so you can push this horrible agitprop stunt?

  11. Jcp2
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    The Hyborian Age was devised by author Robert E. Howard as the post-Atlantean setting of his Conan the Cimmerian stories, designed to fit in with Howard’s previous and lesser known tales of Kull, which were set in the Thurian Age at the time of Atlantis.

    Is HW actually Arnold in disguise?

  12. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Those books were written a long time before Schwarzenneger ever existed. Robert E. Howard is the undisputed master of pulp fantasy. All of his books come highly recommended from Conan to Kull to Bran Mak Morn. There is a decent romantic drama about his life with Rene Zellweger if you want to get your feet wet.

  13. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Weird Al’s “Angry White Boy Polka”. (2003)

    An interesting song but I hesitate to compare its social value against the ever so fresh and yet classically old school “And there is something in their faces” national review article.

    People think the world is complicated. It is not. Watch “Star Wars” and “Revenge of the Nerds” back to back and you will have the whole thing figured out.

  14. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 17, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I apologize. I misquoted.

    Should read: “And there is something in THE faces”.

    How did I mess that up?

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