Chapo on Bush and Trump at Jacobin
This is an interesting discussion featuring Jen Pan and Ariella Thornhill of Jacobin and Felix Biederman of Chapo Trap House. I enjoyed the free-ranging nature and insight, but found the end, starting at 1h30 or so to be the most insightful—where they discuss concrete lines leading from Bush’s policies to Trump’s—with a partial transcription below.
This is a partial transcript starting at about 1h30.
“Jen Pan: There is no Trump without Bush. […] For example, people always talk about Trump as having emboldened a new wave of white-supremacy or white nationalists. And, while I think that that’s true to a certain extent, but, when you go back to Bush, even though he didn’t verbally or rhetorically court white supremacists, when he launched the war in Afghanistan, one of the things he did was lower the requirements for entering the military […] so that included neo-Nazis (people with Nazi tattoos), [and so on] he basically created a cohort of white nationalists who had military training.
“Ariella: Do you remember all of the “see something; say something” posters in New York after 9-11? That is not not responsible for empowering regular Americans to think that it’s their job to arm themselves and protect the streets.
“Felix: When you tell people that it’s a good thing to drop everything and join the Marines because you want to kill Muslims, that that’s fundamentally a good thing, what is that but emboldening white supremacy. And you know what? I’m sorry, but what is emboldening white supremacy or a cohort of white supremacists or violent extremist elements than the greatest one-time growth of the national security state (which [Bush] is responsible for)?
“Ariella: We’re not outside of that legacy now. Trump didn’t invent those things. And it’s interesting that so many Trump supporters actually became disillusioned with Bush and then participated in the riots at the Capitol. […] And you can see a direct line between our interventions in Iraq, the rhetoric around them, the media on both sides showing up bombing Baghdad, the constant paranoia: trust no-one, report everything, call in on your neighbors, foreigners are bad.
“Felix: What do people think imparted a greater hatred of Muslims and a greater lack of accounting for their lives being worth anything: is it the awful things that Trump says or does a lot of the time? Or is it killing a million Iraqis? And then it’s just fine. Nothing happens. They’re not even mad at him.
“Ariella: And Trump, he was capitalizing on the anti-Muslim sentiment that Bush fomented. He wasn’t just saying: here’s another cool group of people to hate, out of nowhere. He was looking at the base that he courted and looking at the beliefs that they already held—and they held those beliefs because of the rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration.”
Fun fact: the NYC police have licensed their trademark to the FBI for their national campaign against domestic terrorism now.
And, yes, I, too, remember those posters everywhere and feeling very creeped out by a state exhorting everyone to snitch on each other.↩