Saturday, November 12, 2016

How Explain The Multiple Acts Of Racist Violence In The Wake Of Trump's Ascension?

Trump in one particular outburst of bigoted memes during the primaries.

"White people, no matter what pain they're in, have a responsibility to reject anybody who stands in front of a camera who spews racism, sexism, misogyny,...I don't care what your race is, but especially if you're white because you belong to the race that's been in power forever. This is country founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. So you have a special responsibility as a white person to always reject anybody who uses racism, who spews this hatred ...White people have a special responsibility now to stand in front of any abuse or attack on people of color or immigrants. Do not call yourself a Christian if you are not willing to put your body in front of whoever is attacking an innocent."  - Michael Moore, on AM Joy this morning.

By now, everyone not living under a rock is aware of the  outbreaks of bigotry and racist violence perpetrated on innocents in the wake of Trump's aberrational victory. Many of us worried, and it's now been vindicated, that the troglodytes and knuckle draggers would interpret the Trump electoral college win (he didn't win the popular vote) as license to commit all manner of hatred crime and  domestic terrorism. Even at Trump's alma mater - supposedly part of the "Ivy League' - reports appearing in The Denver Post today noted special online groups to support "the daily lynching". Many black students are understandably terrified.

Meanwhile, Trump's seeds of campaign venom have seeped into middle schools and high schools, with restroom doors papered over with signs such as "Whites Only", and "No cotton pickers!". The Post also reported on a vicious incident at the University of New Mexico in which a Muslim student's Hajib was snatched off her head by a muscle-bound white baboon wearing a Trump cap and T-shirt with "Make America Great Again".   She was fairly traumatized by the incident as it happened in a library while she was studying.

Other Muslim students and families around the country are living in stark terror at the prospect of the next acts of terror and hate directed against them.. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Thursday called on Trump to "repudiate alleged attacks on Muslim students at universities in Louisiana and California reportedly by some of his supporters".

For its part, Human Rights Watch said Trump should "abandon campaign rhetoric that seemed to reject many of the United States’ core human rights obligations".

"He found a path to the White House through a campaign marked by misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, but that’s not a route to successful governance. President-elect Trump should commit to leading the US in a manner that fully respects and promotes human rights for everyone," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is also monitoring the hate crimes as they are reported, with thousands so far. Including one postal worker filling up at a Massachusetts gas station who yelled at a Hispanic male: "Go back to your own country! This is Trump land now!"

Where does this originate?  How has Trump's venom managed to find willing brains to receive it? Neurobiologist Robert Ornstein in his book: New World, New Mind, Paladin Books, 1991, diagnoses the inherent problem to a tee. He traces it to the ?old Brain" or "old Mind" - a relic of our own evolution which can be traced back to our ape-like ancestors.

Ornstein notes how this "old Mind" of a nation or people can be ramped up collectively and reinforced if its leaders also display and act on their own 'old Mind' prejudices, beliefs, instincts etc. For example he cited the classic case of Reagan( p. 172):

"..the old mind has never been so much in evidence in American politics as in the second half of the Reagan administration"

People became so detached from their critical reasoning centers by Reagan's avuncular pose and malarkey that they failed to see how brutal and vicious his policies actually were, including tossing over a half  million mentally ill out onto the streets. The populace' old Mind  then was its own worst enemy in failing to perceive the very real damage the Reaganites were perpetrating .

Interestingly, all of Ornstein's postulates could easily be applied today to the hate memes let loose by Trump and now finding willing "old brains" (irrespective of actual chronological age)  ready to act on them.  Again, Trump's own bigotry-laced rhetoric disabled their critical thinking faculties to render them like programmed apes. Feeding into the Old Mind's propensities is the patented American tradition of "faith in the future" and blind optimism. As Ornstein writes, p. 175:

"Memories are transformed to suit our attitudes, and they are transformed in a way that helps the blinkered mind get on and succeed in life. We tend to remember not how difficult our past life has been and often hold a simplified optimism about our family and work history, and our past in general"

Thus has the white working class placed a false hope in Trump to live by his promises and deliver jobs, failing to realize that he lacks the ultimate power to do so.  If the corporations themselves refuse to create new jobs, and instead merely ship them offshore - or use automation -  there is no way Trump can change that. He can't simply rule by decree.  So these voters who placed so much stock in his words have been driven by a simplified optimism, and will learn in the end they cast their futures on the hollow words of an empty suit.

Are the voters' old Minds therefore attracted to those of the candidates they voted for? Ornstein again (p. 177):

"Perhaps the most serious political problem faced by society is the attraction of the old mind of the public to old-minded leaders. It is a problem that plagues all nations, and both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the United States."

The Trump phenomenon then can be seen as the apotheosis of nearly 60 million voters in the U.S. being hooked into the old mind of Trump, basically commandeered as puppets to do its bidding. Trump's disgusting rhetoric - as on the campaign trail:

"encouraged the public's hate and national chauvinism when a New-minded administration would have worked to reduce it. "

Can the unleashing of hate and vitriol be brought under control? Only time will tell, but one thing for sure, it will require new leaders with "new minds" to effect a real change. One can only hope the Dems can up with such leaders in the new election cycle and perhaps from the time the next congress is seated.

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