November 15, 2016
Week One: Stepping into snow
by Ian Dreiblatt
It’s the seventh day since the Bad News, the seventh morning we’ve awakened to the music of crisis. Hello.
We’re seeing developments already that outrage our hearts and baffle our political imaginations. We’re weltering in a sudden flood of devastating hatred. (If you suspect me of overstating it, I ask that you please click all nine links in the preceding sentence.) Our president-elect has opened the door to his clown-car, and is busily announcing a series of appointments that should terrify you — starting with Steve Bannon, the bargain-basement Goebbels (and domestic abuser) who has been named Trump’s Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist, to the delight of white nationalists everywhere. The situation could be clearer only if we learned that Bannon’s middle name is ThisIsNotADrill. (And for that matter, speaking of drills…)
Meantime, a nauseatingly wide swath of the media is spurning Julia’s excellent advice: they are normalizing Donald Trump. From Oprah declaring that Trump’s visit to the White House “gives her hope” (it shouldn’t) and that “everybody can take a deep breath” (the fuck we can) to Nicholas Kristof averring that “we are not Weimar Germany” (got a cite for that?) to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz finding the courage to demand that Trump be given “the opportunity to govern well and bring our country together” (as soon as I’m done giving this bowl of spaghetti the opportunity to blossom into a majestic unicorn and carry me off to Xanadu), some of us are now succumbing to the democidal pressures of an illiberal moment. This should scare us. Again, not a drill.
Another example: Back in July 2015, the Huffington Post published an announcement that they would move coverage of the Trump campaign from their politics section to entertainment, noting, “If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.” Five months later, they reversed the decision, noting that Trump’s “‘can you believe he said that?’ novelty ha[d] curdled and congealed into something repellant and threatening.” They promised in ensuing coverage to take seriously the dangers Trump presented, and to “constantly remind the public of what he stands for, citing references and providing links.” To that end, HuffPo ran, for the remainder of the election, a disclaimer at the foot of every article on Trump that they published:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims—1.6 billion members of an entire religion—from entering the U.S.
Now, as The Donald-elect announces a cabinet of flunky white nationalists, mocks the press, and calmly envisions an America in which women roam from state to desolated state seeking abortions, HuffPo has ceased to append the disclaimer, a move Hadas Gold of Politico describes as an attempt to grant Trump “a clean slate.” Thanks a ton, guys. Don’t let that blindfold stop you from swinging a bat — whatever you hit may have candy in it.
Trump’s racism, misogyny, ignorance, endorsements of violence, wholesale estrangement from facts, contempt for due process, and elevation of hateful stooges make the quaint notion of a “clean slate” both risible and dangerous. To treat him as a beguiling outsider and counsel patience as he decides which way to point the blow torch is, at this late hour, insane. We are not vetting Donald Trump. The only job now is to resist his agenda.
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.