If anyone ever needed proof of Donald Trump’s affinity for the aberrant views of the Breitbart alt-right, you have it now with the president’s threat to defund UC Berkeley, claiming that the school restrained free speech by cancelling Milo Yiannopolous’ speech to the College Republican chapter:
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Trump clearly offered his threat in response to the cancellation of Yiannopolous’ speech. The Daily Beast even mocked the tweet with its headline: Daddy Trump’s Empty Threat to Defund Berkeley over Milo. As an editor at Breitbart, the provocateur is a close ally of Steve Bannon, now the president’s key ideologist. So Trump now uses his bully pulpit on behalf of Breitbart agitators and to advance the agenda of the neo-Nazi alt-right.
It’s doubtful Trump can punish UC Berkeley in any way. Cutting funding would violate federal regulations (not that this would stop him). But I do expect a phone call any day now to Chancellor Dirks lecturing him about how low he’s fallen in the president’s estimation. First Mexico’s president, then Australia’s prime minister, now UC Berkeley’s chancellor. Who’s next?
Another example of this is Scott Shane’s NY Times feature on the dark Islamophobic roots in Trump administration policy regarding Islam. The arbiter of Islamophobe chic is Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Islamophobe (er, “Security”) Policy, and leading advocate of the paranoid theory of Islam…Shane quotes Gaffney claiming that Muslims in the West are a fifth column; “termites” burrowing deeply into western civilization and hollowing it out from the inside:
By his account, potential enemies are hidden in plain sight — praying in mosques, recruiting at Muslim student associations and organizing through mainstream Muslim rights groups — and are engaged in “this stealthy, subversive kind of jihad.”
“They essentially, like termites, hollow out the structure of the civil society and other institutions,” Mr. Gaffney said, “for the purpose of creating conditions under which the jihad will succeed.”
If this sort of rhetoric sounds familiar to students of history, that’s because it is. You read the same poisonous phrases in Der Stürmer (see accompanying image whose caption I’ve paraphrased) calling Jews vermin, rats, etc. This particular cartoon pictures “Jewish” rats invading the “German oak” with its branches representing German commerce, agriculture, finance and art. An SS stormtrooper is pictured applying poison gas (!) to root out the ‘vermin.’
In another piece of Nazi propaganda, Jews are even called “foreign termites.” We supposedly poison the pure blood of the Aryan peoples through interbreeding. We kill Christian babies and bake their blood into Passover matzah. We strangle the economic system like a baby in its cradle. We introduce cancerous ideas like Bolshevism into the body politic. So this thinking is alive and well. Except that now it’s burrowed like a termite inside the White House and has hollowed out a great Republic. And now controls the policies of the most powerful nation on earth.
Terry Gross’ Fresh Air guest, Sarah Posner, offers an excellent tutorial on this subject on today’s program.