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On Islamic wars, useful idiots and Republicans


“I firmly believe that California is a lot redder than most people think,” said a woman in a MAGA hat at a Trump rally in the state capital, Sacramento. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, an MSNBC reporter said that after talking with dozens of locals, she was convinced that “most people here support Trump, and they’re glad he visited” their riot-torn city.

News junkies like me keep our fingers to the wind trying to discern pattern changes. And I have to say, the riots of the last several months seem to be having the effect of driving more and more people into the Trump camp.

Trump is doing a good job exploiting the riots. He’s become what George Wallace, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were before him: a law-and-order Republican. Americans are rightfully concerned to see entire cities fall into the chaos of anarchy and looting. Regardless of their views on race relations—and most Americans, I would hope, want to see equity and fairness—they’re scared by what they see happening in Kenosha, Portland, Oakland, Louisville.

When I was out walking the other day, I passed two Black men who were sitting on their front porch having a conversation which I couldn’t help but overhear snatches of. “People are afraid of change,” one said to the other. I thought about that. What does being “afraid of change” mean? I can’t answer that without more information. What specific changes are people supposed to be afraid of? Speaking solely for myself, I’m not afraid of change, per se. What I am afraid of is having my city and my neighborhood plunge into a welter of criminality and dysfunction. I am afraid of homeless camps down the block from me, whose inhabitants roam the streets at night, overturning recycling and garbage bins to see what they can find, breaking into cars, jimmying the lock on my building’s front door and ransacking the mailboxes, stealing UPS and FedEX packages. All these things happen all the time; there’s nothing we can do about it; the police don’t care and won’t come even if you are able to get through to them. It doesn’t take a fan of dystopian movies like Mad Max to play this thing out into the future and see a city devolve to the point of collapse.

So, if there’s a group in America I hate more than any other, it’s the violent BLM protesters. They’re not only needlessly, pointlessly wrecking American cities, they’re doing their utmost to re-elect the felon Trump, a second term of which will plunge the nation and the entire world ever closer to catastrophe.

I’m reading an interesting book now, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, a 1,368-page history of the wars ranging across Islamic Africa, Israel and Palestine, the Arabian Peninsula, and north and east into Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The book is a comprehensive account of how the European colonial powers originally stole those lands from the natives, and how the natives revolted, first as nationalists and, later, as Islamicists. The stories are replete with the savagery, butchery and treachery that typify these wars, civil wars and insurrections, with both sides convinced that God favors them. When you think God is on your side, you can do anything, commit any atrocity, trample on any freedom and crush any opponent, however gruesomely you want, because God is all-powerful and will forgive you.

That’s how I see Republicans. It’s not a coincidence that most of their flags, posters, bumper stickers and T-shirts feature the word “Christian” prominently. Their political platform is, essentially, the same as the old European colonizers who plundered the Middle East, Africa, East Asia and the American continent. “Gold, glory and the gospel,” it used to be said of their reasons for their long, dangerous expeditions across the open seas from their homelands of Britain, Spain, Holland, Portugal, France. They wanted gold for their King’s treasury, they craved the glory that came from conquering, and of course they were told it was their earthly duty to spread the word of God and Jesus Christ to pagans.

Their modern-day spawn are the Republicans, with one difference: they’re no longer in search of “gold,” at least, not more than any Democrat. In place of “gold” we might substitute Donald Trump and the Trump family, the psychological equivalent of gold’s wealth and security. But like their ancient forebears, they seek the “glory” of overturning the existing order (“the Deep State”), and of spreading their particular gospel, in the form of evangelical or Pentecostal Christianity. In both cases—the 16th-century plunderers and the 21st century Trumpers—they see themselves as an Army of God, trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, glory, glory halleleujah!

The author of The Great War for Civilization, the journalist Robert Fisk, reports on a conversation he had in 1992 with an Algerian Muslim prelate, Hassan Turabi, who told him of a chat he, Turabi, had had with one of the Islamic leaders of Algeria. “I asked him, What’s your programme like? What are you going to do after the elections?…And he just said, ‘No, no, we just want to win the elections.’”

No program. No plans. Just the acquisition and maintenance of power: that is the way of all authoritarian regimes. And that is the way of the Party of Trump. No plan or program concerning climate change, income inequality, healthcare. No vision for restoring the belief of the American people in a fair and effective government. No plan for immigration, beyond insane walls and detention chambers. No plan for restoring America’s credibility around the world. No plan for how Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations can live together, in peace and harmony. Their only plan: to win the elections and push their far-right, radically evangelical agenda.

I began this post with my concern that America might be redder than anyone thinks. I end on the same note. The violence in the cities is doing exactly what Trump wants it to—and anyone who supports the violence is, at best, a useful idiot, and at worst, a collaborator.

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