Living in Weimar 3: How Bad Can It Get?

Add to RSS feed
Facebook
Twitter
Follow by Email
Google+
http://laurietobyedison.com/body-impolitic-blog/?category_name=politics">
Pinterest

Laurie and Debbie say:

Living in Weimar 1: On the Brink

Living in Weimar 2: Creative Ferment

643499073

Donald Trump, as cataclysmically bad a president as he would be, is not Adolf Hitler. And the U.S. in 2016 is not Germany, or Weimar, in the early 1930s. However, the parallels are significant, and worth comparing.

Here’s some of how Hitler came to power in Weimar, and later in all of Germany:

… on 30 January 1933 Hindenburg accepted the new Papen-Nationalist-Hitler coalition, with the Nazis holding only three of eleven Cabinet seats: Hitler as Chancellor, Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the Interior and Hermann Göring as Minister Without Portfolio. … Hitler refused [the Catholic Centre party] leader’s demands for constitutional “concessions” (amounting to protection) and planned for dissolution of the Reichstag [Weimar parliament] .

Hindenburg, despite his misgivings about the Nazis’ goals and about Hitler as a personality, reluctantly agreed to Papen’s theory that, with Nazi popular support on the wane, Hitler could now be controlled as Chancellor. This date, dubbed by the Nazis as the Machtergreifung (seizure of power), is commonly seen as the beginning of Nazi Germany.

So, Hitler had nothing like majority support, and the power he wielded was his refusal to compromise and his single-minded plan to rule the country. That was enough.

Trump has nothing like majority support either, as evidenced by the polls. What he does have is refusal to compromise (well, he kind of compromises one day and he walks it back the next) and a single-minded plan to be in charge. He also has a very early narrative about how the election will be “rigged,” which will help fire up his supporters in the event he loses.

Last week, Trump brought in Stephen Bannon as “campaign CEO” and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. Conway–if you can describe a Trump supporter in these terms–is apparently a comparatively level-headed, somewhat analytical Republican pollster. Bannon is something else altogether. Bannon comes from breitbart.com, a virulently right-wing racist anti-Semitic and misogynist website, the home of the “alt-right”. “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” is a real Breitbart headline.  In 2015, Joshua Green at Bloomberg Politics called Bannon “the most dangerous political operative in America.”

When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives. Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” 

Bannon has a history of domestic violence, and his ex-wife says that he “objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he ‘didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”

So, here we are. Trump has made his bed with the alt-right, underscoring the anti-woman, anti-people of color, anti-immigrant basis of his campaign. He is proud of his hateful positions, and he is using them to gain and use power. If he loses in November, his supporters and the alt-right are still going to have more strength and more power than they did a year ago, and they are still going to try to stop President Hillary Clinton at every turn.

Although Trump is not Hitler, one of the lessons of Weimar is that we can’t afford to forget how far the politics of hate can go.

Trump Statues: Body Shaming Is a Weapon, Wherever You Point It

Add to RSS feed
Facebook
Twitter
Follow by Email
Google+
http://laurietobyedison.com/body-impolitic-blog/?category_name=politics">
Pinterest

Debbie says:

nakedstatue

If you read the news at all, you know that large statues of a naked Donald Trump (not pictured above) have been appearing in several major U.S. cities.

The statues are the work of anarchist collective INDECLINE, which has done other political art projects, such as covering the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with names of African-American victims of police shootings. This project is named “The Emperor Has No Balls.”

“Like it or not, Trump is a larger-than-life figure in world culture at the moment,” said the spokesman, who discussed the project with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “Looking back in history, that’s how those figures were memorialized and idolized in their time — with statues.”

The artist, known as Ginger, was specifically trying to emphasize unattractive features.

The goal was to give him the slightest hint of a scowl — a “constipated look” — that hinted at Trump’s implicit frustration with contemporary America, Ginger said. “He has a very distinct little mouth, the way his chin meets the jowl, it had to look right,” he said.

Also challenging was figuring out how to create unsettling body parts in a realistic fashion, a process that required extensive online research.

“If somebody were to look at my browser history, it would be a little disturbing,” Ginger said. “Turns out there’s not too many Google results for ‘saggy old man butt.’”

Some of the reaction to the statues has simply been that they are funny (and I originally thought they were funny). I changed my mind before I learned that INDECLINE’s website also showcases a billboard size graffiti piece entitled “Rape Trump” (really!). Marissa Jenae Johnson, writing at The Establishment, is among many critical voices:

The joke itself is bad. It relies on body-­shaming, fatphobia, toxic masculinity, and transphobia to take jabs at Trump. The “joke” behind the statues is two­fold:

One is that it makes fun of Trump’s body, and likely his weight. He is depicted completely naked, rolls and all, and his skin is intentionally blemished. Beyond clearly relying on beauty standards most progressives would normally reject, it seems pretty fatphobic. Even if the artist didn’t intend it that way, it has certainly made space for fat ­shaming.

The second part of the joke is about Trump’s dick, or rather, his “manhood.” The title itself is an attempt to emasculate Trump in the same way that his shrunken penis is intended to. The implication is that people with a small penis, or lacking testicles, are not real men and are therefore worthy of scorn.

One defense of the statues that I’ve heard is “sauce for the gander”: Trump, though sensitive about being body-shamed himself, is perfectly happy to shame other people about their bodies. He even thinks it’s disgusting that women pee.

While I agree that the statues raise issues like fatphobia and transphobia, that’s not my core objection. All body shaming, by definition, is about body characteristics that the culture finds shameful: otherwise, it isn’t shaming. You can’t effectively shame someone by poking fun at how muscular they are, how slender they are, or how clear their skin is. What bothers me is that INDECLINE thinks Trump’s body is a target for any kind of shame.

Listen up, INDECLINE: you are falling into his trap. You are playing his game. You are shaming him for things that are not character flaws, things that are only shameful because the wider culture says they are. The list of things Donald Trump should be ashamed of is encyclopedic; by choosing his age, his body configuration, and your slurs about his genitals, you are affirming his propensity to do the same thing. If you don’t want to ever hear him make cracks about Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle (and I don’t, even if you do), don’t give him permission. And while we’re at it, no “joke” about anyone being raped is ever funny.