Henry Giroux pulled back the veil of normality for me, going beyond my intellectual grasp of our culture's  violence and hate to a heavy visceral horror of our situation. 

Henry Giroux: Donald Trump Is Addicted to Violence

image by Petri Damsté, text from Giroux

I've long known that Dominator Culture is built on violence, and realized that *45 exemplified our worst. Giroux's articulation helped me to grasp more deeply what Trump's blithe threat to annihilate North Korea's 25 million people at the UN means for the reality in which I live. 

Donald Trump is addicted to violence. It is the principal force that shapes his language, politics and policies. He revels in a public discourse that threatens, humiliates, bullies and inflicts violence. He has used language as a weapon to humiliate women, a reporter with a disability, Pope Francis and any political opponent who criticizes him. He has publicly humiliated and waged symbolic violence on members of his own Cabinet, ...

During his presidential campaign, he endorsed state torture and pandered to the spectacle of violence that his adoring crowds treated like theater as they shouted and screamed for more.

image source

As Sasha Abramsky observes in The Nation, Trump’s embrace of torture made clear that he not only was willing to normalize the unspeakable, but was more than willing to turn the American government into a criminal organization. She writes:

Torture …in the campaign, [became] Trump’s leitmotif — and he did far more than applaud the waterboarding sanctioned by George W. Bush’s administration,.... Time and again, Trump urged his crowds of supporters on by dangling before them the prospect of violence for violence’s sake. Time and again, he flaunted his contempt for international norms by embracing torture ... as an official policy of state.3

Under such circumstances, violence for Trump became performative, used to draw attention to himself as the ultimate tough guy while signaling his embrace of a criminogenic ethic that allowed him to act as a mafia figure willing to engage in violence as an act of vengeance and retribution aimed at those who refused to buy into his retrograde nationalism, regressive militarism and nihilistic sadism. The endless call to “lock her up” signaled more than an attack on Hillary Clinton; he endorsed the making of a police state...[emphasis mine]

I hadn't realized the hidden political/emotional message in the "lock her up" chant. Yes I realized that everyone knew Clinton had been cleared of all the trumped up charges. Somehow zealous frenetic demands to imprison an innocent political rival hadn't "connected" in my mind to the crowd shouting for a right wing police state. How could I still be so naive? I castigate others for being blinded by the American Innocence myth, yet I embodied a version of that as I interpreted this particular joy of his base. MAGA supporters might not realize in so many words that they "want" a police state, but they're already "in".

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... many ways in which Trump repeatedly gives license to his base and others to commit acts of violence. He also appears to revel in producing representations of violence  ...

This adulation of violence is mimicked in many of Trump’s domestic policies, which bear the weight of a form of domestic terrorism — a term I’m using in this case to describe an act of violence intended not only to harm or kill but also to instill fear through intimidation and coercion in specific populations. ... the underlying state violence inherent in embracing a politics of disappearance and disposability.  [emphasis mine]

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This marriage of a culture of cruelty and Trump’s backing of a sadistic racist offers support for a society of violence in the United States ... now, at the center of power.

At one level, Trump is the unbridled legitimator-in-chief of a gun culture, police brutality, a war machine, a culture of violent hypermasculinity and a political and social order that expands the boundaries of social abandonment and the politics of disposability — especially for those marginalized by race and class. Trump has emboldened the idea that violence is the only viable political response to social problems and in doing so normalizes violence in its multiple expressions.

Language in the service of violence has ... succumbed to what I have called the violence of organized forgetting. As memory recedes, violence as a toxin morphs into entertainment, policy and world views that embrace it less as a regime and practice of terror than as a template to guide all of social life.

What is different about Trump is that he relishes in the use of violence and warmongering brutality to inflict humiliation and pain on people; he pulls the curtains away from a systemic culture of cruelty, a racially inflected mass incarceration state, and in doing so refuses to hide his own sadistic investment in violence as a source of pleasure. [emphasis mine]

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More than anything else, Trump is the Bully-In-Chief.  Anyone who opposes him is subject to a tweet-storm or threatened with being fired for being disloyal or is under-performing – "SAD!"  Whether these people are actually all or ANY of those things or not doesn't matter.  His attitude regarding loyalty goes way past Johnson's "Kiss my ass and tell me it smells like roses" business.  He thinks he's an autarch and can rule by fiat, and even having learned that's not true, his behavior remains unchanged.  He wants to nuke North Korea, punish Venezuela, and dis Great Britain for supposed lapses in security which MAY have given rise to terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Washington DC or nearby, there is a man working quietly at his desk, collating information, reports, intelligence, news investigations, and other data regarding the current chief executive, his staff, associates, cronies, and hangers-on.  At some point, his work will be complete and will be announced to the public, probably including multiple subpoenas and perhaps even arrest warrants.  That man is Robert Mueller, and if Trump has the brains to either fear or respect anyone, he would do well to apply both to Mr. Mueller.

Sadly, I suspect Donnie isn't that smart.

No, but he is roiling up his base to go apeshit if the slightest shred of accountability should stick to him.

Maybe ... but even his base has problems with him, especially after his "rapprochement" (such as it was) with Schumer and Pelosi. Trump's chaotic behavior being what it's been to date, he may at some point find that he has finally succeeded at something:

Uniting the US in opposition to him.

I agree.

The trouble is....he's liable to kill us all off before anything can be done to get him out.

"Don't anaiyze political speech for its intellectual content," warned the Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto; a century ago; "analyze it for its emotional effects on you."

Apply that to the speech of Donald Trump AND the speech of Henry Giroux.

I'm not quite sure how to apply your suggestion to analyze what Henry Giroux said, which wasn't a political speech, by it's emotional effects on the reader instead of its intellectual content, tom. Could you clarify?

Ruth, in Pareto's words I saw more than a suggestion; I saw a warning of danger.

To apply his warning, ask if any of what Giroux said affected you emotionally.

BTW, your intention is certainly political.

Of course Giroux was warning of danger. But I'm still a bit confused as to the parallel. As to my political intent, I just posted - a lot of his ideas went into today's letters to my legislators. Not that I think anyone will even process that information at the political offices, because it doesn't fit well into "vote for X" boxes in their constituent management software.

Ruth wrote: "...it doesn't fit well into 'vote for X' boxes...."

I perhaps understand why what I wrote confused you. I saw Pareto's words as referring to:
1) an activist's words intended to inform voters, or
2) a candidate's words intended to win votes.
Both kinds use appeals to intellect and appeals to emotion. Pareto was warning of the emotional ("red meat") content.

The people at legislators' offices who open constituent mail want to place it in one of two piles:
1) a "Vote 'Yes'" pile, or
2) a "Vote 'No'" pile.

The time I ran in a primary election, my mentor told me I have to make the incumbent fear he would lose. I succeeded; he spent ten times what I spent.

I suggest that you put educational material into publications you intend voters to read.

Perhaps my concept of "educational material" differs from yours. I see the Giroux article as Scholarship in the Public Interest, even though it deals with politics, appeals to emotion as well as intellect, and takes a political stand.

My most profoundly educational experience was a course on feminist history, because it involved consciousness raising. It enabled students to apply knowledge to their inner lives and self as well as to achieve greater understanding of the world. This article not only analyzed Trump's language and behavior, it took a strong moral stand about applying that knowledge. Yes, it wasn't emotionally neutral. The feminist course taught by a feminist professor wasn't emotionally neutral either. Yes it was intended to persuade as well as provide facts. For me that didn't rule it out as "educational material". I draw a strong line between emotion and data collection in areas such as climate science. But I think this kind of material counts as education too. During the data collection and analysis you have to keep emotion out. But after you've collected your facts and described your results, there's a place for politics and emotion in application.

On second thought, perhaps my method of summarizing, emphasizing, and illustrating with images - intended to make the main points more accessible and concrete - ends up obscuring the educational value of the source. Do I make the original material seem less academically valid with such techniques?

Ruth, Giroux' fourth word, addicted, alerted me. I read most of the paragraph and stopped. I wanted less emotion.

Giroux took the word from its context, a charlatan's tactic, and lost some of his audience.

Trump is a popular target and Giroux could have used him to educate readers who are also voters. Instead, Giroux used emotion.

You used Giroux to address violence in a dominator culture. When you have a target and a strong argument, don't offer people two targets. Some of them will choose Giroux' target and ignore yours.

I would never have guessed that academics are your intended audiience.




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