Mr. President — Control your dog
Many if not all of us love dogs. But we’ve all encountered dogs that were scary. Dogs that were obviously aggressive and looking for a fight. Most people who have dogs like this know the nature of their pets and work hard to control them. No one wants to be responsible for their dog mauling or even killing a person or another animal. Yet, it happens. Sometimes vicious dogs just aren’t controlled and terrible things happen. More often than not, when it happens we feel that the dog should be put down, the risk is just too great of a recurrence.
Most of us also know that it’s not the dog’s fault that it is the way it is. Poor training, bad socialization, abuse, there are myriad reasons a dog might end up being dangerous. They almost all come back to the people that own or owned the dog. I think we would by and large agree that if we choose to have a dangerous dog it’s on us to control it. Whatever it takes, the owner is accountable for the dog’s actions.
So when Donald Trump decided to take on a dangerous dog it became his responsibility to control it. Let’s not bullshit here, “alt-right” is a term that is completely designed to put a happy face on white supremacy. It’s used to cover a hodge-podge of far right ideologies but is most closely associated with “European Identitarianism” now morphed into “American Identitarianism”. Make no mistake, it’s proponents are as virulent a bunch as can be found in American politics.
Donald Trump got into bed with these people during his campaign. Trump is a walking talking definition of a demagogue. From Wikipedia:
A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from Greek δημαγωγός, a popular leader, a leader of a mob, from δῆμος, people, populace, the commons + ἀγωγός leading, leader) or rabble-rouser is a leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation.
If the shoe fits, wear it. During the campaign this played out with Trump’s decision to bring on Steve Bannon to marshal his campaign. Now we’ve seen that the decision wasn’t a realpolitik one, it was representative of Trump’s acceptance of white supremacist elements as part of his evolving political agenda.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), at the time of this writing there have been seven-hundred and one incidents of hate crimes since the election. While the trend line is down, this is still a staggering escalation of hate crime in our nation. I won’t recapitulate the incidents here, you can read about them on the SPLC website.
This is the dog that bites. This dog bites black people, immigrants, the LGBT community and women. This is the dog that Trump owns. Yet, the only denouncement thus far has been a remarkably flaccid statement on the CBS news show 60 Minutes. Here is the transcript from that show:
Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims —
Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.
Well then, that should do it. This is the response of the President elect of the United States.
Shortly after that we learned that Steve Bannon would be the Chief Strategist of the White House. Not only did he not control his dog to start with, but now, after we’ve witnessed this surge in hate crimes, he patted his vicious dog on the head and told it, “Bad doggy.” Then he gave it a treat in the form of Steve Bannon. The only clearer signal he could have sent to his collective vicious dog community would have been to appoint Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute (NPI) and probable coiner of the term alt-right. Spencer is his own particular kind of white supremacist, one that hides in plain daylight. How more mundane a moniker could one devise than the “National Policy Institute”? Yawn. However, the NPI is a primary organization in today’s white supremacist movement and is certainly a fan of the appointment of Bannon. They aren’t alone. The Who’s Who of right wing fascists, white supremacists and bigots widely and loudly applauded the Bannon appointment.
So, when you have a dangerous dog, you keep it under control. You lock it up if you have to. You put it down if it must be done. What you don’t do is foster its behavior. You don’t reward it and you don’t cheer it on.
Mr. President. Control your dog.