Well, I did it. I decided I'd write about Donald Trump (kind of). From the multiple memes that make him out to be Hitler (and didn't anyone ever tell people the Hitler comparisons are always frowned upon, you can be an unapologetic racist and overall douche-bag and still fall short of Hitler on the shitty person scale) to the comments he's made about Mexicans and Muslims, there's a wealth of ammunition to work on if i chose to. But this would feel like pushing a blind kid down a flight of stairs would feel: hilarious and easy yet leaving a depressingly incomplete feeling. I always feel like if I'm going to go at someone, I should do by best impression of Big Game Hunter and make sure I go after the right group. And Trump's not my concern.
Look, nobody wants to admit it, but the way Democracy functions is this- ideas that are not accepted by the people fall by the wayside. Sometimes it takes the government some time to catch up to the people, but when the government does something the people don't like, they stand up and object: Rahm Emanuel in Chicago is in the process of finding this out. And, usually, the way things work politically in a Democracy will be: an issue comes up to the people, the people bring the issue to the government and thru the governmental process brings some form of resolution to the initial problem claim. This means that people speak and politicians respond to those words. What this means is, in spite of Donald Trump saying things you find ridiculously offensive, there are many people who are not only not offended, but their opinions align with those of Trump or are more conservative. And what I'm saying is it's not Trump leading the Lemmings to the edge. It's the Lemmings all coming together and ranting about how Lemmingville isn't Great like it used to be, and so someone sees this and tells the Lemmings of Lemmingville exactly what they want to hear, that he can make Lemmingville Great Again. He is a response to them, not the other way around. This is more onerous than one might imagine...
The Public Religion Research Institute reports from a survey indicating that 56% of those polled indicated they felt that Islam was "not compatible with American values." This should be a point of great concern, as the religion of Islam is no less "compatible" with American values as Christianity, but the concern should be the large number. Liberals will tell you, if asked, that the number above is driven by the conservative wing of American politics. This is something you could say in a world where they didn't have a mandate- where more than 50% of the voters vocalize an opinion- you don't get to 50% with just conservatives, and they got to 56% because 43% of democrats also believe that Islam is incompatible with American values. When I see 56% of the public thinks something is true, I assume its more than that, as we sometimes will tell someone what we think they want to hear, as opposed to the truth, especially if the truth makes us look worse than we would otherwise.
We want to distance ourselves from the implications of our words and thoughts as a country, and that's not really possible, because definitionally, Democracy will function as a filter for concepts: ideas the people find repugnant and/or abhorrent don't (generally) become cornerstones of of our political conversation. The Will of The People will filter out these kinds of claims. But by the same accord, if there's a voice of the people that's not being represented, someone will fill that void, so that section of the population gets represented.
This is the base of my fear.
This means the reason Ted Cruz can speak about dropping nuclear weapons on "The Middle East" to make the "sand glow" with radioactivity, the reason The Donald can speak about an outright ban on Muslims entering the United States and to make Bill Gates shut down the internet to stop ISIS from using it as a tool, and the logic that lets Antonin Scalia speak about Blacks needing to go to "less advanced, slower track" schools are all tied to one thing. There is a large enough portion of the population that believes these things to be true that candidates, politicians, Supreme Court Justices, teachers, lawyers, janitors, physicians, and warehouse workers all believe they can say these things without reservation. That's how these things can become part of the National Dialogue. "Nuking the Middle East" denies that there are people who are in the ME that didn't do anything, and that really unless our nuclear weaponry is better than I think, that probably does some pretty major damage to Israel. The idea of the need to ban Muslims makes the fear of BROWN PEOPLE way worse, because most people aren't willing to note possible distinctions (so Hindu, Sikh and Muslim will look the same to someone not looking for distinctions- and happens to be about 40% of the world population). So the attacks happen, and people choose the "wrong" targets (i put "wrong" in quotes to indicate anyone is the "wrong" target but they have selected the incorrect person for their own purposes and/or goals).
It also seems problematic in a world where we have troops in areas where Americans and Muslims are fighting hand in hand. In the instance where that Muslim happens to be an American as well, that tension must be borderline unbearable- knowing your country doesn't really have your back despite you giving up your back for its protection. In the instance where the Muslim isn't American, it could undermine a trust that is imperative for the safety of our troops abroad. It's also the language that fuels the insurgency against America- the only thing we could do that would be more inflammatory against the insurgency but simultaneously increasing recruitment would be to actually put in ground troops, which is part of the discussion from the Hawkish wing of the government.
So we can pretend that Donald Trump is Hitler, that Ted Cruz is The Devil with an Ivy League education, or that Scalia is a pasta eating motherphucker that's still mad that the black boy he had a crush on took his girlfriend, but none of these things change the fact that the reason each feels the freedom to say it is because, when it's said and done, they know there's more support for their ideas than anyone wants to admit. Which is why they aren't the problem.
The American population is.