Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Michelle Goldberg: Trump Is a White Nationalist Who Inspires Terrorism
Don’t pretend his teleprompter speech changes anything.
A decade ago, Daryl Johnson, then a senior terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, wrote a report about the growing danger of right-wing extremism in America. Citing economic dislocation, the election of the first African-American president and fury about immigration, he concluded that “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.”
When the report leaked, conservative political figures sputtered with outrage, indignant that their ideology was being linked to terrorism. The report warned, correctly, that right-wing radicals would try to recruit disgruntled military veterans, which conservatives saw as a slur on the troops. Homeland Security, cowed, withdrew the document. In May 2009, Johnson’s unit, the domestic terrorism team, was disbanded, and he left government the following year.
Johnson was prescient, though only up to a point. He expected right-wing militancy to escalate throughout Barack Obama’s administration, but to subside if a Republican followed him. Ordinarily, the far-right turns to terrorism when it feels powerless; the Oklahoma City bombing happened during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and all assassinations of abortion providers in the United States have taken place during Democratic administrations. During Republican presidencies, paranoid right-wing demagogy tends to recede, and with it, right-wing violence.
But that pattern doesn’t hold when the president himself is a paranoid right-wing demagogue.
Susan E. Rice: When the President Is a Bigot, the Poison Spreads
The consequences ricochet around the world and embolden our adversaries.
It’s hard to calculate the damage that President Trump’s overt racism and almost daily attacks on black and brown people are having on the fabric of our nation. With white supremacy bolstered from the Oval Office, hate crimes and domestic terrorism incidents are increasing, including, it appears, Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso.
At the same time, immigrants and native-born Americans live in constant fear of law enforcement officials emboldened to think they can act with impunity. Still, Mr. Trump revels in ripping off the fragile scab over the lingering sore that is our country’s historical racial divide, as if to ensure it never heals.
The president’s appalling goal, quite simply, is to pit Americans against one another for crass political purposes as well as, it seems, to vent his unabashed personal prejudice. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress by and large amplify his message through their deafening silence, abdicating their responsibility to serve our country above any political master and making a mockery of their claim to be “the party of Lincoln.”
Is there no floor to how low this president and complicit Republicans are prepared to go to divide America?
Yet, the consequences of Mr. Trump’s raw racism are not contained within America’s shores. They ricochet around the world as far away as New Zealand, poison the international climate and undermine America’s ability to secure our global interests.
Paul Krugman: Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism
Why do Republicans enable right-wing extremism?
Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?
Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes.
So the party remains in lock step behind a man who has arguably done more to promote racial violence than any American since Nathan Bedford Forrest, who helped found the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization if there ever was one — and who was recently honored by the Republican governor of Tennessee.
Anyway, the party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene. More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term “right-wing extremism” was unacceptable.
This backlash was effective: Homeland Security drastically scaled back its efforts to monitor and head off what was already becoming a major threat. In effect, Republicans bullied law enforcement into creating a safe space for potential terrorists, as long as their violent impulses were motivated by the right kind of hatred.
Reverend William Barber: Left/right labels don’t help – we must build a fusion coalition to defeat Trumpism
Candidates should be clear about how Trump targets immigrants and people of color, but those policies hurt poor white people as well
Democratic presidential candidates had a chance both to present their campaign’s vision for America and to differentiate themselves from a broad field of 20 contenders. On healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform and more, candidates responded to CNN’s questions by positioning themselves on the left/right spectrum that is often used to report political issues in public life.
But we make a serious mistake if we allow the extremism of Donald Trump’s administration to define a “right” against which Democrats position themselves as more or less “left”. This framing actually offers Trump an advantage because it normalizes his extremism and lawlessness.
Yes, there are real policy differences between Democratic candidates. But those differences pale in comparison to the moral and constitutional crisis America faces under Trump’s leadership. Now is not the time to poke holes in other candidates’ plans to guarantee healthcare and a living wage to all Americans. Now is the time for Americans to unite around leadership that can clearly name the corruption that led us to Trump’s presidency and build a broad coalition ready to move forward together in the south and the midwest.
Amanda Marcotte: Everyone knows Trump is a racist. So why can’t the media say it?
No one actually believes Donald Trump opposes racism. Not his critics. Not his supporters. Not anyone who tries to live in the zone of “objectivity.” Trump’s racism is a immoveable fact of life, like gravity or the sun.
And yet, somehow, the media continues to struggle to accurately convey to American audiences this reality, which is that when Trump, a racist and a liar, says anti-racist things, he’s just a racist who is currently lying.
This problem was illustrated Monday, when the New York Times previewed a headline about Trump’s response to two recent mass shootings that read, “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism”, causing an explosion of outrage in response, and causing the newspaper of record to scramble, changing it to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns” in the second print edition and the much more accurate“Shootings Spur Debate on Extremism and Guns, With Trump on Defense” for the online edition.
The furor illustrated a truly difficult struggle for media outlets in the Trump era, which is how to cover Trump statements that everyone knows are lies, but which cannot technically be proven to be false.
This is a classic example. On one hand, it’s technically true that Trump gave a speech Monday in which he did mouth the words “our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy”. It is also true is that his statement was as believable as if he said, “While many English translations of Proust’s ‘À la recherche du temps perdu‘ are beautifully wrought, I myself prefer to read the classic novel in the original French.”