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Henry Giroux – Assassination Talk, the Banality of Evil, and the Paranoid State of American Politics

During a campaign rally in North Carolina, Donald Trump suggested that “Second Amendment people” would take care of Hilary Clinton for picking Supreme Court judges who favor stricter gun laws. The Clinton campaign and many others saw this as a veiled endorsement of an assassination attempt.[1] These inflammatory, if not dangerous, comments are part of a wider movement in American politics to empty political discourse of any substance, turning it mostly into a form of rhetorical theater designed to mimic a larger culture of stupidity, idiocy, and spectacle. The spectacle of titillating and infantilizing consciousness and public discourse with a flood of shocks, sensations and simplistic views has become the hallmark of a broken political system now largely controlled by the ideological extremists who inhabit big corporations, hedge funds, and the ranks of the ultra-rich. It is a strategy that mixes what Hannah Arendt once called the “banality of evil” with what the eminent historian, Richard Hofststadter has called the paranoid style of American politics.[2]

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