Peter Thiel, the silicon billionaire and one of the six ultra-rich financial elite to speak at the Republican National Convention once wrote that he did not “believe that freedom and democracy were compatible.” This blatant anti-democratic mindset has emerged once again, without apology, as a major organizing principle of the Republican Party under Donald Trump. In addition to expressing a hatred of Muslims, Mexicans, women, journalists, dissidents, and others whom he views as outside the pale of what constitutes a true American, Trump appears to harbor a core disdain for democracy, bringing back Theodor Adorno’s warning that “the true danger [of fascism] lay in the traces of the fascist mentality within the democratic political system” (a warning quoted in Prismatic Thought). What has become clear is that the current political crisis represents a return to ideologies, values and policies based upon a poisonous mix of white supremacy and ultra-nationalism, opening up a politics that “could lead back to political totalitarianism.”
Throughout the 2016 Republican National Convention the hateful discourse of red-faced anger and unbridled fear-mongering added up to more than an appeal to protect America and make it safe again. Such weakly coded invocations also echoed the days of Jim Crow, the undoing of civil rights, forced expulsions and forms of state terrorism sanctioned in the strident calls for safety and law-and-order. Commenting on Trump’s speech, columnist Eugene Robinson argued that his talk added up to what few journalists were willing to acknowledge — “a notorious white supremacist account.” What is shocking is the refusal in many mainstream media circles to examine the role that white supremacy has played in creating the conditions for Trump to emerge as the head of the Republican Party. This structured silence is completely at odds with Trump’s longstanding legacy of discrimination, including his recent and relentless derogatory remarks concerning President Obama, his race-based attacks on US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who is trying a case against Trump University), his denunciation of Muslims as terrorists and his attempt to paint Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists.