Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Believe Your Eyes

Not many people outside of the Pacific Northwest have ever heard of Arlington, Washington.  No reason to, really--it's just a random small town along I-5 north of Seattle that you pass through on your way up to Bellingham or Vancouver.  Not the kind of place you'd expect to find a U.S. presidential candidate visiting in the crunch time before the general election.

That's why many MSM political experts found it odd that Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Arlington in the middle of August 2016.  Why even go to Washington at all, some wondered--a state DT had no realistic hope of winning, or even forcing his opponent to invest in.  And if Washington, why Arlington, and not at least visit a city with a significant population.

While national pundits scratched their heads, to Pacific NW locals the visit to Arlington was no mystery at all.

Militant white supremacists have long dreamed of establishing a white "territorial sanctuary" deep in the Pacific NW.  Through this idea, which they call their "Northwest Imperative," white supremacists have been encouraging their members to move to the area since the 1970s.  Many have done so, and while some have polluted the population centers like Portland and Seattle, a great many settled in remote towns in rural Washington and Idaho.  Like Arlington.  And DT visiting Arlington was a signal to his base--his real base, the white supremacists--that he was their guy.

That's not what the local Republicans interviewed at the time of the visit said, of course.   The visit was just about DT "keeping his word" after having promised to return to the area earlier in the campaign, they suggested, or supposedly building in-roads into Washington State.  There was some nonsense about "Snohomish County is the Ohio of Washington State."  But that was all just window dressing for outsiders.  The locals knew what the visit was really about, even if they couldn't necessarily prove it.

The same lame explanations were trotted out after the Republican National Convention, when shock-jockette Laura Ingraham threw up the Nazi salute at the end of some god-awful speech.  "She may have simply intended to finish her speech with ... a wave, followed by a point," wrote a Slate columnist, "but in her excitement (or, perhaps, as a result of over-rehearsing the movement ahead of time) she combined the two, resulting in the open-handed, palm-down point."  No, she gave the freaking Nazi salute.  We all saw it.  But for some reason, the benefit of the doubt must be given?

When white supremacists gathered for their "Unite the Right" hate-fest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, DT called them "very fine people"--even as they murdered a counter-protestor.   Yet he did it saying there were supposedly fine people "on both sides," enabling those so inclined to give DT a pass for having decided just to not take on white supremacy that particular day.  This was insanity, of course--the thought of a sitting U.S. president referring to white supremacists as "very fine people" ought not be found acceptable under circumstances, no matter how oblique the reference (and this reference was far from oblique).  But to those who insist there must be multiple sides to every story, hey--at least he didn't literally say that he agreed with the UTR marchers.  But we all know he did.

And what about the MAGA hats?  They just happen to be red, right?  It's not as though there is an actual swastika on the hat, or confederate flag, or whatever that KKK symbol is.  As with an unusual campaign rally in Arlington, Washington, there's enough plausible deniability to suggest that anyone comparing the MAGA hats with, say, brownshirt armbands is being ridiculous.  Facebook even banned and disabled the account of an artist for making that kind of comparison last year.

By now, of course, the thought of DT making a subtle gesture such as that seems absurd; this is a guy who just yesterday declared anti-fascism a terrorist group, gushed like a sports fanboy about secret service agents assaulting protestors outside the White House, urged governors to "do retribution" against people protesting police violence, and threatened to unleash the U.S military on people if, I guess, he isn't satisfied with the bloodshed.  This is long after imposing a Muslim ban, referring to immigrants from Latin America as rapists and criminals, and making countless other openly offensive statements and pursuing openly discriminatory policies.

What, then, should be be the response to DT's latest stunt--in which he had a group of peaceful demonstrators forcibly removed from in front of a Washington DC church so that he could have his picture taken there, and in which the resulting picture was a near-perfect replica of der Fuehrer holding a bible in his right hand with an uncommon vertical grip:

Undoubtedly there will be some who say this is another mere coincidence, that DT could not possibly have intended to emulate this Hitler photograph, and pitch various other contrived explanations.  But sometimes the real explanation is just the most obvious one.  And DT has long since forfeited any benefit of the doubt.

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