Not just any White Power

Dana Milbank is not wrong when he says, Trump’s raison d’etre is white power, but he’s not right either. White power is a part of what’s going on in the world. But here we encounter a huge mismatch, that between Trump at home and Trump abroad. On the one hand at home his adherence to white power is complete, his support of white supremacists since Williamsburg has never wavered.

But, and on the other hand, abroad, what is going on is something else entirely. And compared to which white power is child’s play (quaint?). Here’s what is happening. Our president is paling around with the likes of Saudi Arabia’s MBS, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. All of them would hardly be mistaken for being white, let alone white supremacists. And yes, his best pal is Putin, who is probably not as white as he would like to be and we find him, Putin, paling around much as Trump, with the likes of “dark skinned” leaders, like Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and in Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Trump’s friends abroad are without exception authoritarian leaders, of both the East and the West. He seems to have forgotten the few democracies still out there, still alive if not well, not to mention the few principled democrats within his own, that is our country, who are holding onto for dear life some real and time honored Enlightenment principles, a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of knowledge and advanced ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government and separation of church and state.

And Trump seems to have forgotten both Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, two democrats struggling to hold on and who might have been, with someone else in the Oval Office, as earlier were France and Germany, America’s closest allies.

So the raison d’être of our president is probably. not white power, but blatant authoritarianism, of any color. For Trump seems to respect only authority and strength in a leader and constantly attempts to project the same from himself by his often ill considered words and actions.

So what is our president’s raison d’être? Not white power, white elitism, but authoritarianism, white, black, or brown. And in fact Trump has little good to say about the countries of the white European, and socialist North, other than the fact that he would love to have Norwegians and Danes replace those from the Northern Triangle in Central America who are lining up at our southern border seeking asylum. Has our president hidden up until now a preference for the dark skinned peoples of the world, at least for the dark skinned authoritarians, who for now seem to be his great pals?

As the world’s leaders have become more and more authoritarian so have their countries become more and more nationalistic, their countries being made first, much as Trump’s America First, that which he so celebrated in the last State of the Union address. Globalism, and what now seems to be its most important offshoot, global warming, both times when peoples join together and push for something better in the future, are more and more forced to get out of the way (as the native Americans in North Dakota in the way of the Dakota Access pipeline) of the planes, trucks, trains, ships, and pipelines carrying the final tonnage of the world’s fossil fuels to be burned to satisfy, if only for a time, the world’s energy requirements.

Now we are much more onto Trump’s raison d’ëtre. What’s going on in the world today takes us back to the school playground and the toddler bullying the others by throwing sand into their faces. Kind of like what’s going on now. In Trump’s case, however, the bullying child is now the bullying man, country, or corporation.

And of course it didn’t have to be this way. They say we can still if not stop global warming slow it down, but the bullies now occupying the highest posts in most of the world’s countries are not going away. And there seems to be no one strong enough to bully them. They do seem to be in control of our lives. Is this a harbinger of the last century’s totalitarianism coming back to haunt us?

from John Cassidy, in the New Yorker of May 31, 2019:
Based on his experience of the last two years, Trump seems to believe that he can target anybody for his bullying, acting as arbitrarily as he wants, and he still won’t suffer any consequences, because the economy and the stock market will continue to power ahead. This theory is about to be tested.

Recent releases indicate that the economy has already slowed in the second quarter of the year, which leaves it more vulnerable to negative shocks, such as the imposition of more tariffs or a big fall in the stock market. Moreover, this latest Trump power play is so extreme and potentially self-destructive that, according to the Wall Street Journal, even his own hard-line trade adviser, Robert Lighthizer, opposed it.

The New Yorker, May 31, 2019

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