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08:28uh the the thesis of the book we were08:31asking08:31why is it that democratization produced08:34a politics of grievance and resistance08:37and resentment and one the simplest08:40answer08:41is that uh democratization was imitation08:44and imitation08:45uh uh is associated with the confession08:48that the other is superior you’re08:50inferior08:50and of course that produces resentment08:53but more08:54particularly if i could give you just08:55one i think uh08:57very revealing example09:00of how this uh how this developed let’s09:03take hungary as an example09:05the hungarians took standard model09:08thatcherite09:09privatization which uh uh developed in09:12the west09:13they tried they applied it in a society09:15with no private capital09:17the consequence of this was in a way we09:19should have seen it ahead of time09:21was that managers took the assets of09:24their enterprises09:25and uh used that to buy the enterprises09:27for themselves09:28creating their own private wealth and uh09:32this was the beginning of the09:34development of an appalling inequalities09:36in these uh in east european societies09:38post-communist societies unjustifiable09:41inequalities which were resented but not09:43only that09:45the the language of liberalism which is09:48the language of human rights individual09:49rights09:50was not able to capture or to articulate09:54the grievance uh experienced by those09:56who watched the public patrimony of09:58their country09:59put into the pockets of individuals who10:01were insiders10:02so the privatization of polypatrimony10:06was a uh was was experienced as an abuse10:09as a10:09as a as a crime but it couldn’t be10:12articulated in the language10:13of individual rights of liberalism and10:16indeed10:17the language of liberalism particularly10:18the language of private property rights10:20be uh beca banned blessed or justified10:24this process which was widely viewed as10:27illegitimate and unjustifiable and and10:30of course10:31personally painful if you are your best10:33friend10:34you have two friends uh uh they’re very10:37equal one day10:38in a couple years one of them is riding10:40around in limousines10:41the other can’t afford a bus ticket one10:43is eating at fish restaurants every10:45night the other10:46can’t afford a piece of fresh fruit that10:48produces resentment so the10:50the the westernization process created10:53traumas in these societies which we10:55didn’t foresee and didn’t predict10:57but that was the seedbed for this11:00populist revolt against the liberal11:02order11:03now for those of us who grew up during11:04the cold war this is going to sound11:05passing strange but there are many on11:07the right11:08in eastern and central europe that11:10consider the european union to be the11:12new11:12soviet union how can that be11:15yeah this is a very strange development11:17interesting and kind of11:18complicated so the first thing is that11:21reform elites11:23in eastern europe were very eager to uh11:26to join in the accession process to the11:29european union11:30and therefore accepted the post-national11:32rhetoric11:33of the european union that if you11:35remember was really developed to help11:37germany11:38overcome its nationalistic past so it11:40was a very post-national language11:42and that um meant that this these reform11:46elites11:47were leaving behind in their own country11:50national symbols11:51national traditions they kind of didn’t11:53speak about them11:54and therefore when resentment uh or when11:57when the west entered into crisis11:59particularly in 200812:01and the western model seemed to be less12:04than it was cracked up to be12:05and to present problems um a counter12:08elite emerged12:09in eastern europe in central eastern12:11europe mostly of provincial origins12:13who blamed everything that went wrong12:17on the fact that they the reform elite12:19had abandoned the nation12:20had abandoned national traditions so12:22this was a uh12:24the the accession process was a viewed12:26as a12:27betrayal of national authenticity12:31uh in in addition there’s another very12:34interesting factor which is that the12:35european union was12:36asking all in and hungary become12:39democratic12:39you must learn how to become democracies12:42like we in the west12:43at the same time brussels was saying we12:46are going to write all of your laws12:48so while you’re becoming democratic12:50actually your laws are going to be12:51written in brussels12:52this produced also resentment and a12:54feeling that there is something12:56uh perverse or uh arrogant about12:59brussels obviously brussels is not13:02moscow it doesn’t have a boot13:04on their throats but it did it does did13:06convey13:07a sense of uh superiority judgmentalism13:10and then i i need to uh emphasize that13:13although13:14the west did not impose democracy and13:18liberalization13:19it did judge the progress of13:22democratization and liberalization13:24and in a way westerners when they13:26visited eastern europe i saw this a lot13:28i worked there of course in the 90s13:30uh it was as if it’s in the way tourists13:33visit a zoo you know13:34you go to the zoo you look at the13:36primates you say well13:38uh they’re like us but they’re lit13:40missing something they don’t have an13:42opposable thumb13:43or they don’t have the rule of law so13:45you’re kind of saying you’re you’re kind13:46of a copy of us but you’re not a very13:48good copy13:49and probably you’ll never be much good13:51so there was a feeling of13:52being looked down upon uh which also13:55stirred resentment uh and let me just13:59say one other thing about14:00i think authenticity the sense these14:02populists are claiming that they14:04are those in touch with the authentic14:06tradition which has been14:08lost by westernization and14:10democratization so14:12in 1989 uh it’s clear that the14:16nationalists were allied with the14:19liberals in the revolt against moscow’s14:21empire14:22so in poland there was a lot of14:24basically trying to get away from russia14:25was a very important motivation now they14:28didn’t14:29speak the language of nationalism at the14:31time probably because it was not a14:32language welcome in brussels14:34but also because this was the period of14:36milosevic you know the bloody side of14:38nationalism and milosevic was a14:40communist communist so a man like14:42kaczynski would never14:43echo milosevic so there was the language14:46of nationalism was subdued14:49and when after 2008 2014 the immigration14:52crisis14:53these populist knees near felt freed14:56from having to14:57to cover their nationalism with the14:59language of liberalism so15:01it it it had felt like a kind of cage15:04in which they were trapped and they15:06broke out of it15:07and returned to this kind of nativist uh15:10way of feeling which had always been15:12there but had been muffled so it was15:15that’s part of the why populism seems15:18authentic to them15:19well let’s extend your metaphor a little15:22further if we want to talk about the15:24number one primate in the zoo boy this15:26is a terrible analogy15:28uh should we ask about russia here why15:30didn’t i i mean15:31the the many of the central and eastern15:33european countries did sort of flirt15:35with15:35liberal democracy for a while before15:38adopting illiberal democracy that they15:40have today but russia never did15:41why why did russia never try it well i15:44mean first of all you have to remember15:45that in the soviet union15:46elites have been have found it very easy15:49to15:50fake democracy have fake elections15:52because they’ve been faking communism15:53for at least two decades before15:55uh they were sort of dressed up this way15:58let’s pretend we’re having to15:59have elections these are all rigged of16:01course uh16:02and uh we know he’s going to win and16:04there’s not really any competition16:06that was very easy for them to do they16:07also in russia by the way16:10they they had a communist training told16:12them that democracy is just16:14a trick by which elites uh deceive their16:17publics16:18and hold on to power capitalism is just16:20really an elite project to16:22exploit the working classes and so on so16:25they were16:25very comfortable with that idea of16:27capitalist democracy16:29but in the end basically uh russia16:33was so injured i mean the main thing to16:36understand about the russian16:37situation is they lost huge part of16:40their territory16:41uh a huge number of their population16:43they lost their superpower status it was16:45a16:46it was a huge injury to the self-image16:48of russians which was not true in16:49eastern europe that they didn’t16:51eastern europeans didn’t have this16:52imperial swagger this imperial16:54claims that they were you know on the16:57top of the world16:58uh and actually exporting their own17:01model17:01elsewhere so that was a very strong and17:04i think the so the russians for17:06a couple decades were pretty happy with17:08just faking democracy and17:10but in the end as putin came to power17:13the resentment of being treated as17:16second-class17:16citizens as being looked down upon as17:18being taught lessons17:20by the west boiled over and uh the17:23russians17:24went from this like faking a democracy17:28to a what we call aggressive imitation17:31uh that is17:32imitation of the west which is designed17:35to humiliate the west17:36uh which is designed to show that the17:38west is hypocritical so for example17:41in the speech he gave putin gave17:44justifying the annexation of17:46crimea he basically imitated word for17:49word17:49uh western speeches about the17:51independence of kosovo17:53human rights national self-determination17:56and so forth but this was17:57very much a kind of imitation meant to18:00expose the west’s18:01hypocrisy and uh yes i think that’s18:05i think that’s a good uh way to18:07understand the putin regime which is not18:09people often uh act as if putin is a18:12great strategist and it is true that18:13he’s played18:14beforehand well but he’s not a great18:16strategist his18:17his main aim which is not strategic and18:20is not18:21helping russia redevelop itself is to18:24expose the west as hypocritical that’s18:26his18:26obsession uh and i think that’s a18:29blind alley that’s a dead end maybe a18:31blind alley but most days of the week18:33it’s not that hard to do18:34whoops there’s my little editorial18:36comment uh let me try this18:39do we have to come to the unhappy18:40conclusion therefore18:42that liberalism as we understand it is18:45really not exportable18:47to cultures that are if i can put it18:49this way wired differently18:51from those of us in the west i think18:54one of the big lessons of the 2003 war18:58in iraq18:59is that uh trying to impose a19:02democratic system after a six-week19:04military campaign19:05in a country where three-quarters of the19:06population married their first cousin19:08and so19:08it’s a completely different social world19:10you can’t just you know uh19:12impose something like this and that that19:15was such a lesson even though19:16our uh uh international internationalist19:21humanitarian internationals uh went over19:24there19:25with the uh crude and i think uh19:28defenseless uh idea that the only19:31legitimate authority with whom we are19:33going to deal are going to be authority19:35that’s elected19:36i think it’s very good to help so the19:38listeners to contrast what19:40how we behaved in afghanistan and how19:42the americans behaved in afghanistan and19:44how they behaved19:45in iraq and afghanistan we had been19:47there for decades we19:49knew all the warlords we didn’t say to19:51the warlords you must be elected19:53before we negotiate with you but in iraq19:56the religious leaders the tribal shakes19:57were set aside we had this19:59fake ideological belief that we have to20:02create authority by elections which of20:04course is a20:05is a uh it is based on historical20:08ignorance20:09democracy is a tiny spot in human20:11history20:12it has cute enormously complicated20:14preconditions20:16it doesn’t we we’re confusing the20:18absence of obstacles with the presence20:20of preconditions we thought if you get20:21rid of saddam20:22you’re going to have democracy just like20:24if you get rid of communist elite you’re20:26going to have democracy20:27and this was an illusion it’s a20:29democratic ideology that20:31idea was uh is is is it20:34uh uh ex exposes a kind of disgraceful20:38historical ignorance which was uh at the20:41basis of much of american foreign policy20:44in the post-cold war era we’ve got about20:46five minutes to go here so let me try a20:48couple more questions with you20:49your book now suggests that we’ve20:51entered an age of illiberal20:53imitation how do you see that20:56well it’s a strange uh fact that uh21:00president trump seems to be uh uh21:03accepting putin’s uh a strategic goal of21:07dismantling the european union21:09of destroying all of the international21:11organizations created by the united21:12states after world war21:14ii uh and he’s at war not only with the21:17wto the who in21:19all the world america made seems to be21:21uh uh21:22the liberal world order seems to be21:24something that trump himself21:26is uh attacking so that is a a kind of21:29imitation of and he’s using the rhetoric21:32nationalist rhetoric anti-immigrant21:33rhetoric21:34of orban and kaczynski uh and the21:38anti-western21:39uh language and also by the way21:42uh he’s the first american president who21:45has not said we deserve to rule the21:47world because we’re morally superior21:49i mean that’s a kind of not a very21:52likable uh uh position to take but every21:55american president has taken that21:57basically21:58trump says no no we’re just like21:59everyone else uh22:01well what i was personally don’t you22:03think22:04is that again be a tough case for him22:06personally to make it22:07imitate him personally yes i would say22:10but he of course22:11his basic uh thing is he resents22:14this is sort of the trump world view is22:16he resents terribly22:18the countries that imitate our uh22:21economic productivity22:22or or are horning in on our market share22:25and so on so22:26he’s a person who has claimed i think22:28the first american president ever22:30to say that america is the greatest22:33victim of the americanization22:34of the world so that’s part of it but i22:37wouldn’t like uh to say a word about22:40uh the current crisis we’re in and i’m22:43i’ve been asking myself and my colleague22:45yvonne krustev22:46we’ve been speaking about this as well22:48what does the was the current pandemic22:51tell us about the trauma of liberalism22:54and the the competition between22:56liberalism and populism22:57uh because in a way uh the23:01the previous crises of liberalism 1923:04uh the uh 2001 in which it turned out23:07that23:08defending human rights the whole uh idea23:11of defending human rights as the primary23:12value23:13seemed to give way to the battle against23:15terrorism in which rights were viewed as23:17a trojan horse for our enemies23:192008 which really showed that our23:22economic elite23:23i didn’t know what it was doing so that23:25also uh really hurt our prestige to uh23:28201423:29in which the migrant crisis uh made23:32people feel like open borders23:33were a threat to western civilization23:36and so on all these things have23:37combined and and we’re under a23:40uh we’re living in a time where those23:43three crises have seemed to be23:45accumulating in the present one23:46and weakening the liberal commitment to23:50globalization and so forth23:51openness uh at the same time23:54every political order has its own23:57disorders and populism23:59is producing its own discontents and24:01these populist leaders24:02bolsonaro trump authoritarians like24:05putin24:06strangely enough they are very afraid of24:09this crisis24:10they are not you know taking hold of it24:12and using it24:13to uh to uh uh to their benefit24:16uh there’s a way in which this kind of24:19crisis has24:20uh had is is challenging any kind of24:23regime24:24the archaeon regimes we saw that in24:25china where they’re hiding evidence24:27we see it in the west some some24:29democratic societies have done well some24:31authoritarian societies have done okay24:33it doesn’t seem to fit well into our24:36ideological24:37uh polarities so i think that’s and the24:39way i would put this in the end the24:40question open to us24:42is now in the future is is the pandemic24:45going to24:46increase our reliance on science and24:49rationality24:50belief in fact consciousness or is it24:53going to24:54uh create a uh is the panic24:57of and fear going to lead to more25:00conspiracy theories25:01uh and more xenophobia uh uh25:04migrant bashing uh so we’re on a knife’s25:08edge25:08i think and the the fate of the liberal25:11model and the liberal commitment to25:13rational decision making25:14uh and uh the uh uh25:17and its competition with these populist25:21myth makers25:22sloganeers who are always trying to sell25:24something has not been decided25:26i definitely do not think the populists25:29have the upper hand25:30i think the populists are also25:32struggling and they’re25:33not finding this an easy crisis to deal25:36with25:36so although i don’t believe that the25:39west is covering itself with glory25:41either25:42uh the whale and liberal regimes are25:44also struggling because25:46uh the the disease is hard to understand25:49and it’s hard to master25:50i i definitely don’t believe that uh the25:54current crisis is going to25:56really decide the question in favor of26:00of the populists well why don’t i26:02freelance then and just uh re-title your26:05book the light that’s failed26:07so far and we’ll leave it there uh26:10i want to thank you very much professor26:11holmes for joining us on tvo tonight26:13congratulations again on your gelber26:15prize26:15uh for anybody who wants to pick it up26:17yvonne krastieff and stephen holmes26:18collaborated on the light26:20that failed are reckoning take good care26:22and thanks for joining us on tvo tonight26:25thank you steve26:30the agenda with steve pakin is brought26:32to you by the chartered professional26:33accountants of ontario26:35cpa ontario is a regulator an educator26:38a thought leader and an advocate we26:40protect the public26:41we advance our profession we guide our26:44cpas26:45we are cpa ontario and by viewers like26:49you26:49thank you
uh the the thesis of the book we were
why is it that democratization produced
a politics of grievance and resistance
and resentment and one the simplest
is that uh democratization was imitation
uh uh is associated with the confession
that the other is superior you’re
and of course that produces resentment
particularly if i could give you just
one i think uh
very revealing example
of how this uh how this developed let’s
take hungary as an example
the hungarians took standard model
privatization which uh uh developed in
they tried they applied it in a society
with no private capital
the consequence of this was in a way we
should have seen it ahead of time
was that managers took the assets of
and uh used that to buy the enterprises
creating their own private wealth and uh
this was the beginning of the
development of an appalling inequalities
in these uh in east european societies
post-communist societies unjustifiable
inequalities which were resented but not
the the language of liberalism which is
the language of human rights individual
was not able to capture or to articulate
the grievance uh experienced by those
who watched the public patrimony of
put into the pockets of individuals who
so the privatization of polypatrimony
was a uh was was experienced as an abuse
as a as a crime but it couldn’t be
articulated in the language
of individual rights of liberalism and
the language of liberalism particularly
the language of private property rights
be uh beca banned blessed or justified
this process which was widely viewed as
illegitimate and unjustifiable and and
personally painful if you are your best
you have two friends uh uh they’re very
equal one day
in a couple years one of them is riding
around in limousines
the other can’t afford a bus ticket one
is eating at fish restaurants every
night the other
can’t afford a piece of fresh fruit that
produces resentment so the
the the westernization process created
traumas in these societies which we
didn’t foresee and didn’t predict
but that was the seedbed for this
populist revolt against the liberal
now for those of us who grew up during
the cold war this is going to sound
passing strange but there are many on
in eastern and central europe that
consider the european union to be the
soviet union how can that be
yeah this is a very strange development
interesting and kind of
complicated so the first thing is that
in eastern europe were very eager to uh
to join in the accession process to the
and therefore accepted the post-national
of the european union that if you
remember was really developed to help
overcome its nationalistic past so it
was a very post-national language
and that um meant that this these reform
were leaving behind in their own country
national traditions they kind of didn’t
speak about them
and therefore when resentment uh or when
when the west entered into crisis
particularly in 2008
and the western model seemed to be less
than it was cracked up to be
and to present problems um a counter
in eastern europe in central eastern
europe mostly of provincial origins
who blamed everything that went wrong
on the fact that they the reform elite
had abandoned the nation
had abandoned national traditions so
this was a uh
the the accession process was a viewed
betrayal of national authenticity
uh in in addition there’s another very
interesting factor which is that the
european union was
asking all in and hungary become
you must learn how to become democracies
like we in the west
at the same time brussels was saying we
are going to write all of your laws
so while you’re becoming democratic
actually your laws are going to be
written in brussels
this produced also resentment and a
feeling that there is something
uh perverse or uh arrogant about
brussels obviously brussels is not
moscow it doesn’t have a boot
on their throats but it did it does did
a sense of uh superiority judgmentalism
and then i i need to uh emphasize that
the west did not impose democracy and
it did judge the progress of
democratization and liberalization
and in a way westerners when they
visited eastern europe i saw this a lot
i worked there of course in the 90s
uh it was as if it’s in the way tourists
visit a zoo you know
you go to the zoo you look at the
primates you say well
uh they’re like us but they’re lit
missing something they don’t have an
or they don’t have the rule of law so
you’re kind of saying you’re you’re kind
of a copy of us but you’re not a very
and probably you’ll never be much good
so there was a feeling of
being looked down upon uh which also
stirred resentment uh and let me just
say one other thing about
i think authenticity the sense these
populists are claiming that they
are those in touch with the authentic
tradition which has been
lost by westernization and
in 1989 uh it’s clear that the
nationalists were allied with the
liberals in the revolt against moscow’s
so in poland there was a lot of
basically trying to get away from russia
was a very important motivation now they
speak the language of nationalism at the
time probably because it was not a
language welcome in brussels
but also because this was the period of
milosevic you know the bloody side of
nationalism and milosevic was a
communist communist so a man like
kaczynski would never
echo milosevic so there was the language
of nationalism was subdued
and when after 2008 2014 the immigration
these populist knees near felt freed
from having to
to cover their nationalism with the
language of liberalism so
it it it had felt like a kind of cage
in which they were trapped and they
broke out of it
and returned to this kind of nativist uh
way of feeling which had always been
there but had been muffled so it was
that’s part of the why populism seems
authentic to them
well let’s extend your metaphor a little
further if we want to talk about the
number one primate in the zoo boy this
is a terrible analogy
uh should we ask about russia here why
didn’t i i mean
the the many of the central and eastern
european countries did sort of flirt
liberal democracy for a while before
adopting illiberal democracy that they
have today but russia never did
why why did russia never try it well i
mean first of all you have to remember
that in the soviet union
elites have been have found it very easy
fake democracy have fake elections
because they’ve been faking communism
for at least two decades before
uh they were sort of dressed up this way
let’s pretend we’re having to
have elections these are all rigged of
and uh we know he’s going to win and
there’s not really any competition
that was very easy for them to do they
also in russia by the way
they they had a communist training told
them that democracy is just
a trick by which elites uh deceive their
and hold on to power capitalism is just
really an elite project to
exploit the working classes and so on so
very comfortable with that idea of
but in the end basically uh russia
was so injured i mean the main thing to
understand about the russian
situation is they lost huge part of
uh a huge number of their population
they lost their superpower status it was
it was a huge injury to the self-image
of russians which was not true in
eastern europe that they didn’t
eastern europeans didn’t have this
imperial swagger this imperial
claims that they were you know on the
top of the world
uh and actually exporting their own
elsewhere so that was a very strong and
i think the so the russians for
a couple decades were pretty happy with
just faking democracy and
but in the end as putin came to power
the resentment of being treated as
citizens as being looked down upon as
being taught lessons
by the west boiled over and uh the
went from this like faking a democracy
to a what we call aggressive imitation
uh that is
imitation of the west which is designed
to humiliate the west
uh which is designed to show that the
west is hypocritical so for example
in the speech he gave putin gave
justifying the annexation of
crimea he basically imitated word for
uh western speeches about the
independence of kosovo
human rights national self-determination
and so forth but this was
very much a kind of imitation meant to
expose the west’s
hypocrisy and uh yes i think that’s
i think that’s a good uh way to
understand the putin regime which is not
people often uh act as if putin is a
great strategist and it is true that
beforehand well but he’s not a great
his main aim which is not strategic and
helping russia redevelop itself is to
expose the west as hypocritical that’s
obsession uh and i think that’s a
blind alley that’s a dead end maybe a
blind alley but most days of the week
it’s not that hard to do
whoops there’s my little editorial
comment uh let me try this
do we have to come to the unhappy
that liberalism as we understand it is
really not exportable
to cultures that are if i can put it
this way wired differently
from those of us in the west i think
one of the big lessons of the 2003 war
is that uh trying to impose a
democratic system after a six-week
in a country where three-quarters of the
population married their first cousin
it’s a completely different social world
you can’t just you know uh
impose something like this and that that
was such a lesson even though
our uh uh international internationalist
humanitarian internationals uh went over
with the uh crude and i think uh
defenseless uh idea that the only
legitimate authority with whom we are
going to deal are going to be authority
i think it’s very good to help so the
listeners to contrast what
how we behaved in afghanistan and how
the americans behaved in afghanistan and
how they behaved
in iraq and afghanistan we had been
there for decades we
knew all the warlords we didn’t say to
the warlords you must be elected
before we negotiate with you but in iraq
the religious leaders the tribal shakes
were set aside we had this
fake ideological belief that we have to
create authority by elections which of
course is a
is a uh it is based on historical
democracy is a tiny spot in human
it has cute enormously complicated
it doesn’t we we’re confusing the
absence of obstacles with the presence
of preconditions we thought if you get
rid of saddam
you’re going to have democracy just like
if you get rid of communist elite you’re
going to have democracy
and this was an illusion it’s a
democratic ideology that
idea was uh is is is it
uh uh ex exposes a kind of disgraceful
historical ignorance which was uh at the
basis of much of american foreign policy
in the post-cold war era we’ve got about
five minutes to go here so let me try a
couple more questions with you
your book now suggests that we’ve
entered an age of illiberal
imitation how do you see that
well it’s a strange uh fact that uh
president trump seems to be uh uh
accepting putin’s uh a strategic goal of
dismantling the european union
of destroying all of the international
organizations created by the united
states after world war
ii uh and he’s at war not only with the
wto the who in
all the world america made seems to be
the liberal world order seems to be
something that trump himself
is uh attacking so that is a a kind of
imitation of and he’s using the rhetoric
nationalist rhetoric anti-immigrant
of orban and kaczynski uh and the
uh language and also by the way
uh he’s the first american president who
has not said we deserve to rule the
world because we’re morally superior
i mean that’s a kind of not a very
likable uh uh position to take but every
american president has taken that
trump says no no we’re just like
everyone else uh
well what i was personally don’t you
is that again be a tough case for him
personally to make it
imitate him personally yes i would say
but he of course
his basic uh thing is he resents
this is sort of the trump world view is
he resents terribly
the countries that imitate our uh
or or are horning in on our market share
and so on so
he’s a person who has claimed i think
the first american president ever
to say that america is the greatest
victim of the americanization
of the world so that’s part of it but i
wouldn’t like uh to say a word about
uh the current crisis we’re in and i’m
i’ve been asking myself and my colleague
we’ve been speaking about this as well
what does the was the current pandemic
tell us about the trauma of liberalism
and the the competition between
liberalism and populism
uh because in a way uh the
the previous crises of liberalism 19
uh the uh 2001 in which it turned out
defending human rights the whole uh idea
of defending human rights as the primary
seemed to give way to the battle against
terrorism in which rights were viewed as
a trojan horse for our enemies
2008 which really showed that our
i didn’t know what it was doing so that
also uh really hurt our prestige to uh
in which the migrant crisis uh made
people feel like open borders
were a threat to western civilization
and so on all these things have
combined and and we’re under a
uh we’re living in a time where those
three crises have seemed to be
accumulating in the present one
and weakening the liberal commitment to
globalization and so forth
openness uh at the same time
every political order has its own
disorders and populism
is producing its own discontents and
these populist leaders
bolsonaro trump authoritarians like
strangely enough they are very afraid of
they are not you know taking hold of it
and using it
to uh to uh uh to their benefit
uh there’s a way in which this kind of
uh had is is challenging any kind of
the archaeon regimes we saw that in
china where they’re hiding evidence
we see it in the west some some
democratic societies have done well some
authoritarian societies have done okay
it doesn’t seem to fit well into our
uh polarities so i think that’s and the
way i would put this in the end the
question open to us
is now in the future is is the pandemic
increase our reliance on science and
belief in fact consciousness or is it
uh create a uh is the panic
of and fear going to lead to more
uh and more xenophobia uh uh
migrant bashing uh so we’re on a knife’s
i think and the the fate of the liberal
model and the liberal commitment to
rational decision making
uh and uh the uh uh
and its competition with these populist
sloganeers who are always trying to sell
something has not been decided
i definitely do not think the populists
have the upper hand
i think the populists are also
struggling and they’re
not finding this an easy crisis to deal
so although i don’t believe that the
west is covering itself with glory
uh the whale and liberal regimes are
also struggling because
uh the the disease is hard to understand
and it’s hard to master
i i definitely don’t believe that uh the
current crisis is going to
really decide the question in favor of
of the populists well why don’t i
freelance then and just uh re-title your
book the light that’s failed
so far and we’ll leave it there uh
i want to thank you very much professor
holmes for joining us on tvo tonight
congratulations again on your gelber
uh for anybody who wants to pick it up
yvonne krastieff and stephen holmes
collaborated on the light
that failed are reckoning take good care
and thanks for joining us on tvo tonight
thank you steve
the agenda with steve pakin is brought
to you by the chartered professional
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Frankly, Trump doesn’t give a damn.
It’s funny that Donald Trump doesn’t like a movie about con artists who invade an elegant house and wreak chaos.
He should empathize with parasites.
No doubt the president is a movie buff. He has been known to call advisers in the wee hours to plan movie nights at the White House for films he wants to see, like “Joker.” And, in an early sign of his affinity for tyrants, he told Playboy in 1990 that his role model was Louis B. Mayer running MGM in the ’30s.
Trump interrupted his usual rally rant Thursday night to bash the Oscars, saying: “And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year?”
He added: “Can we get ‘Gone With the Wind’ back, please? ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ So many great movies. The winner is from South Korea. I thought it was best foreign film, right? Best foreign movie. No. Did this ever happen before? And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got upset. A little wise guy statement. A little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy.” (When he accepted his Oscar, Pitt complained that the Senate did not let John Bolton testify.)
Our president is nostalgic for a movie romanticizing slavery and a movie about an aging diva swanning maniacally around a mansion, living in a vanished past. (I am big. It’s the party that got small.)
Trump’s xenophobic movie criticism, combined with his mocking pronunciation of the name “Buttigieg,” harked back to the days when George H.W. Bush ran in 1988 wrapped in the flag, saying he was on “the American side,” while his celebrity endorser Loretta Lynn complained that she couldn’t even pronounce the name Dukakis. Too foreign-sounding.
It also echoed a segment on Laura Ingraham’s show, in which it was suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an American war hero who immigrated from Ukraine, might be guilty of espionage.
And in his Vegas rally on Friday, Trump was again calling his predecessor “Barack Hussein Obama.”
This was another bad, crazy week trapped in Trump’s psychopathology. No sooner was the president acquitted than he put scare quotes around the words justice and Justice Department and sought to rewrite the narrative of the Mueller report, whose author warned that Russia was going to try to meddle in the U.S. election again.
Philip Rucker wrote in The Washington Post: “As his re-election campaign intensifies, Trump is using the powers of his office to manipulate the facts and settle the score. Advisers say the president is determined to protect his associates ensnared in the expansive Russia investigation, punish the prosecutors and investigators he believes betrayed him, and convince the public that the probe was exactly as he sees it: an illegal witch hunt.”
Trump, who moved from a Fifth Avenue penthouse to the White House, is sinking deeper into his poor-little-me complex, convinced that he is being persecuted.
His darker sense of grievance converges with a neon grandiosity. Trump is totally uncontrolled now. Most presidents worry about the seaminess of pardons and wait until the end. Trump is going full throttle on pardoning his pals and pals of his pals in an election year.
The Republicans have shown they are too scared to stop him and won’t. The Democrats want to stop him but can’t. (Although if they win the Senate back, Democrats will probably end up impeaching him again and this time have plenty of witnesses.)
Now, in a frightening new twist, the president is angry at his own intelligence team for trying to protect the national interest. He would rather hide actual intelligence from Congress than have Adam Schiff know something that Trump thinks would make him look bad politically.
As The Times reported, the president’s intelligence officials warned House lawmakers in a briefing that Russia was once more intent on trespassing on our election to help Trump, intent on interfering in both the Democratic primaries and the general. (They also told Bernie Sanders that the Russians were trying to help his campaign.)
News of the House briefing caused another Vesuvian eruption from the mercurial president, who is hypersensitive to any suggestion that he isn’t winning all on his own.
The Times story said that “the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place,” especially because his nemesis Schiff was present.
A few days ago, the president replaced Maguire as acting director with Richard Grenell, the sycophantic ambassador to Germany whose qualifications for overseeing the nation’s 17 spy agencies include being a former Fox News commentator and Trump superfan who boasts a gold-level card with the Trump Organization.
As the Democrats sputter and spat and fight over federal giveaways and N.D.A.s, the unfettered president is overturning the rule of law and stuffing the agencies with toadies.
Nothing is in the national interest or public good. Everything is in the greater service of the Trump cult of personality.
In “Gone With the Wind,” Atlanta burned to the ground. In Trump’s version, Washington is aflame.
The Source of Trump’s Black Hole:
John Fea posted a Lawrence O’Donnell video that names the source of Trump’s black hole — his incomprehension of “love“.
O’Donnell was responding to events at the National Prayer Breakfast, which are listed below:
National Prayer Breakfast: Feb. 6, 2020
Arthur Brooks: America’s crisis of contempt
Arthur C. Brooks’s remarks, as prepared, for the National Prayer Breakfast keynote address on Thursday at the Washington Hilton.
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Pence, Speaker Pelosi, heads of state, members of Congress and honored guests: Thank you for inviting me here today. I am deeply honored and grateful to address the National Prayer Breakfast.
As you have heard, I am not a priest or minister. I am a social scientist and a university professor. But most importantly, I am a follower of Jesus, who taught each of us to love God and to love each other.
I am here today to talk about what I believe is the biggest crisis facing our nation — and many other nations — today. This is the crisis of contempt — the polarization that is tearing our society apart. But if I do my job in the next few minutes, I promise I won’t depress you. On the contrary, I will show you why I believe that within this crisis resides the best opportunity we have ever had, as people of faith, to lift our nations up and bring them together.
As leaders, you all know that when there is an old problem, the solution never comes from thinking harder in the old ways; we have to think differently — we need an epiphany. This is true with societal problems and private problems.
Here’s an example of the latter: I have three kids, and two are still teenagers. (Pray for me.) Two years ago, when my middle son, Carlos, was a senior in high school, my wife, Ester, and I were having a rough parent-teacher conference. It was his grades. This was an old problem which we had tried everything to solve, but we were getting nowhere. We left the conference in grim silence and got in the car. Ester finally broke the silence.
“We need to see this problem in a whole new way,” she said.
“I’m all ears, sweetheart,” I answered, “because I’m at the end of my rope.”
“At least we know he’s not cheating,” she said.
See, that’s thinking differently! And that’s the spirit in which I want to address the problem of political contempt.
(By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened to Carlos: Currently he’s in Parris Island, S.C., at boot camp for the U.S. Marine Corps. We couldn’t be prouder of him.)
To start us on a path of new thinking to our cultural crisis, I want to turn to the words of the ultimate original thinker, history’s greatest social entrepreneur, and as a Catholic, my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus. Here’s what he said, as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 5, verse 43-45: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Love your enemies! Now that is thinking differently. It changed the world starting 2,000 years ago, and it is as subversive and counterintuitive today as it was then. But the devil’s in the details. How do we do it in a country and world roiled by political hatred and differences that we can’t seem to bridge?
First, we need to make it personal. I remember when it became personal for me.
I give about 150 speeches a year and talk to all kinds of audiences: conservative, progressive, believers, atheists and everything in between. I was speaking one afternoon some years ago to a large group of politically conservative activists. Arriving early to the event, I looked at the program and realized I was the only non-politician on the program.
At first I thought, “This is a mistake.” But then I remembered that there are no mistakes — only opportunities — and started thinking about what I could say that would be completely different than the politicians. The crowd was really fired up; the politicians were getting huge amounts of applause. When it was my turn to speak, in the middle of my speech, here’s more or less what I said:
“My friends, you’ve heard a lot today that you’ve agreed with — and well you should. You’ve also heard a lot about the other side — political liberals — and how they are wrong. But I want to ask you to remember something: Political liberals are not stupid, and they’re not evil. They are simply Americans who disagree with you about public policy. And if you want to persuade them — which should be your goal — remember that no one has ever been insulted into agreement. You can only persuade with love.”
It was not an applause line.
After the speech, a woman in the audience came up to me, and she was clearly none too happy with my comments. “You’re wrong,” she told me. “Liberals are stupid and evil.”
At that moment, my thoughts went to … Seattle. That’s my hometown. While my own politics are conservative, Seattle is arguably the most politically liberal place in the United States. My father was a college professor; my mother was an artist. Professors and artists in Seattle … what do you think their politics were?
That lady after my speech wasn’t trying to hurt me. But when she said that liberals are stupid and evil, she was talking about my parents. I may have disagreed with my parents politically, but I can tell you they were neither stupid nor evil. They were good, Christian people, who raised me to follow Jesus. They also taught me to think for myself — which I did, at great inconvenience to them.
Political polarization was personal for me that day, and I want to be personal to you, too. So let me ask you a question: How many of you love someone with whom you disagree politically?
Are you comfortable hearing someone on your own side insult that person?
This reminds me of a lesson my father taught me, about moral courage. In a free society where you don’t fear being locked up for our opinions, true moral courage isn’t standing up to the people with whom you disagree. It’s standing up to the people with whom you agree — on behalf of those with whom you disagree. Are you strong enough to do that? That, I believe, is one way we can live up to Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies.
Let’s take a step back now and diagnose the problem a little bit.
Some people blame our politicians, but that’s too easy. It’s us, not them — I am guilty. And frankly, I know many politicians, many of them here today, who want a solution to this problem every bit as much as I do.
What is leading us to this dark place that we don’t like?
The problem is what psychologists call contempt. In the words of the 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.” In politics today, we treat each other as worthless, which is why our fights are so bitter and cooperation feels nearly impossible.
The world’s leading expert on marital reconciliation is Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington. Over the course of his work, Dr. Gottman has studied thousands of married couples. After watching a couple interact for just one hour, he can predict with 94 percent accuracy whether the couple will divorce within three years.
How can he tell? It’s not from the anger that the couples express. As I already told you, anger doesn’t predict separation or divorce. The biggest warning signs, he explains, are indicators of contempt. These include sarcasm, sneering, hostile humor and — worst of all — eye-rolling. These little acts effectively say, “You are worthless” to the one person a spouse should love more than any other. Want to see if a couple will end up in divorce court? Watch them discuss a contentious topic and see if either partner rolls his or her eyes.
Why do they do that? The answer is that it’s a habit, and that habit is tearing their marriage apart. And like a couple on the rocks, in politics today, we have a contempt habit. Don’t believe it? Turn on prime-time cable TV and watch how they talk. Look at Twitter — if you dare. Listen to yourself talking about a politician you don’t like. We are guilty of contempt.
It’s a habit, and it’s tearing our society apart.
How do we break the habit of contempt? Even more, how do we turn the contempt people show us into an opportunity to follow the teachings of Jesus, to love our enemies?
To achieve these things, I’m going to suggest three homework assignments.
- First: Ask God to give you the strength to do this hard thing — to go against human nature, to follow Jesus’ teaching and love your enemies. Ask God to remove political contempt from your heart. In your weakest moments, maybe even ask Him to help you fake it!
- Second: Make a commitment to another person to reject contempt. Of course you will disagree with others — that’s part of democracy. It is right and good, and part of the competition of ideas. But commit to doing it without contempt and ask someone to hold you accountable to love your enemies.
- Third: Go out looking for contempt, so you have the opportunity to answer it with love. I know that sounds crazy, to go looking for something so bad. But for leaders, contempt isn’t like the flu. It’s an opportunity to share your values and change our world, which is what leadership is all about, isn’t it?
I’m asking you to be kind of like a missionary. I’ve had missionaries on both sides of my family, and they are amazing entrepreneurs. They don’t go out looking for people who already agree with them, because that’s not where they are needed — they go to the dark places to bring light. It’s hard work, and there’s lots of rejection involved. (Here are words that have never been uttered: “Oh good, there are missionaries on the porch.”) But it’s the most joyful type of work, isn’t it?
I’m calling each one of you to be missionaries for love in the face of contempt. If you don’t see enough of it, you’re in an echo chamber and need a wider circle of friends — people who disagree with you. Hey, if you want a full blast of contempt within 20 seconds, go on social media! But run toward that darkness, and bring your light.
My sisters and brothers, when you leave the National Prayer Breakfast today and go back to your lives and jobs, you will be back in a world where there is a lot of contempt. That is your opportunity. So I want you to imagine that there is a sign over the exit as you leave this room. It’s a sign I’ve seen over the doors of churches — not the doors to enter, but rather the doors to leave the church. Here’s what it says:
You are now entering mission territory.
If you see the world outside this room as mission territory, we might just mark this day, Feb. 6, 2020, at the National Prayer Breakfast, as the point at which our national healing begins.
God bless you, and God bless America.
President Trump: National Prayer Breakfast, Feb 6, 2020
9:11 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, thank you very much. I’m working very hard for you, I will tell you. (Laughter.) And sometimes you don’t make it easy, and I certainly don’t make it easy on you. (Laughter.) And I will continue that tradition, if I might, this morning. And, Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you. (Laughter.) But I don’t know if Arthur is going to like what I’m going to say. (Laughter.) But I love listening to you. It’s really great. Thank you very much.
And thank you, congressmen, for the great job you’ve been doing and the relationship and the help. You’re a warrior. Thank you very much. And, Kevin, you’re a warrior. Thank you. The job you’ve done is incredible. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. A lot of extra work. Unnecessary work.
It’s wonderful to be with the thousands of religious believers for the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast. I’ve been here from the first one, where I had the privilege of being asked. I’ve been with you for a long time before then. And we’ve made tremendous progress. Tremendous progress. You know what we’ve done. I don’t think anybody has done more than all of us together during these last three years. And it’s been my honor.
But this morning, we come together as one nation, blessed to live in freedom and grateful to worship in peace. As everybody knows, my family, our great country, and your President, have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.
Weeks ago, and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, the fortitude, and strength to do what everyone knows was right. I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, “I pray for you,” when they know that that’s not so.
So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on. And I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House.
We’re joined today by two people whose faith inspires us all: our amazing, wonderful friend, Vice President Mike Pence — (applause) — and his wonderful wife, Karen. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you to all of our great political leaders out there — so many that I’ve been working with so hard over the last three years. And we’ve accomplished so much. And to members of my Cabinet in attendance — Secretary Mike Pompeo, Mark Esper, David Bernhardt — (applause) — Gene Scalia, Alex Azar, Ben Carson, Dan Brouillette, Betsy DeVos, Robert Wilke, and Administrator Jovita Carranza.
Joining us — (applause) — for this cherished tradition are a lot of friends in the audience. And many, really, have become friends. They are political leaders. They’ve become great friends. That’s all I get to meet anymore. (Laughter.) That and the enemies and the allies. And we have them all. We have allies. We have enemies. Sometimes the allies are enemies, but we just don’t know it. (Laughter.) But we’re changing all that. But thank you all, and thank you all for being here.
I also want to welcome foreign dignitaries from more than 140 countries. That’s something. (Applause.) That’s something. Everyone here today is united by a shared conviction. We know that our nation is stronger, our future is brighter, and our joy is greater when we turn to God and ask him to shed his grace on our lives.
On Tuesday, I addressed Congress on the state of the Union and the great American comeback. That’s what it is. (Applause.) Our country has never done better than it is doing right now. Our economy is the strongest it has ever been. And for those of you that are interested in stocks, it looks like the stock market will be way up again today.
According to the latest Gallup poll that just came out a little while ago, a few minutes ago, American satisfaction is at the highest level ever recorded. Can you imagine? And that’s from Gallup — no friend of mine. (Applause.) Ninety percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their personal lives. How about that? Isn’t that something? Just came out today. (Applause.) They must have known I was going to be here. (Laughter.)
In everything we do, we are creating a culture that protects freedom, and that includes religious freedom. (Applause.)
As I said on Tuesday in the House Chamber, “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers.” We don’t muzzle pastors. “In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God.” (Applause.)
So much of the greatness we have achieved, the mysteries we’ve unlocked, and the wonders we’ve built, the challenges we’ve met, and the incredible heights that we’ve reached has come from the faith of our families and the prayers of our people.
Before America declared independence, patriots in all 13 colonies came together in days of fasting and prayer. In the bitter cold of Valley Forge, Washington and his men had no food, no supplies, and very little chance of victory. It reminded me a little bit of 2016. We had very little chance of victory. (Laughter.) Except for the people in this room and some others believed we were going to win. I believed we were going to win. But what they did have was have an unwavering belief that God was with them. I believe that too. God is with the people in this room.
Before a single skyscraper rose up in New York City, thousands of poor American families donated all they could to build the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Applause.)
When Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, he said, “Houston, I would like to request a few moments of silence.” Then, he read from the Bible. (Applause.)
At every stage, our nation’s long march for civil rights was inspired, sustained, and uplifted by faith, prayer, and devotion of religious believers.
To protect faith communities, I have taken historic action to defend religious liberty, including the constitutional right to pray in public schools. (Applause.)
We can also talk about the Johnson Amendment. We can talk about Mexico City Policy. We’ve done a lot. But I also recently took executive action to stop taxpayer dollars from going to colleges and universities that spread the poison of anti-Semitism and bad things about Christianity. (Applause.)
We are upholding the sanctity of life — sanctity of life. (Applause.) And we are doing that like nobody has ever done it before from this position. You better get out and vote on November 3rd — (laughter) — because you have a lot of people out there that aren’t liking what we’re doing.
And we’re pursuing medical breakthroughs to save premature babies because every child is a sacred gift from God. (Applause.)
Together, we are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society. We are lifting up citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed. We are bringing hope to forgotten communities. And more Americans are working today — 160 million. A little bit short. Just a little bit. One hundred and sixty million. We’ve never been even close — than ever before. Think of it: More Americans are working today — almost 160 million — than ever before. Our unemployment numbers are the best in the history of our country. (Applause.)
A more specific number and numbers that you hear me say, if you listen: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American — the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Women — best in 71 years. Sorry. We’ll have you there soon. Soon, it will be “historic.” I have to apologize to the women; it’s only 71 years.
But the best unemployment numbers, we have — we’re doing things that nobody thought possible. We’re setting records that nobody thought achievable.
And to give former prisoners a second chance at life, which so many people in this room have worked on for so long — (applause) — we passed criminal justice reform into law, and I signed it nine months ago.
And it’s proving more and more that America is indeed a nation that believes in redemption. What’s happened with prisoners is a miracle. Prisoners would come out and nobody would give them a job. And oftentimes, most of the time — almost all of the time — they’d go back into prison. They’d get caught doing something bad. They had no money. They had no hope. They had no job. Now they’re coming out into a booming economy. And employers are hiring them, and to a certain extent, maybe because they’re having a hard time getting people.
First time in our country’s history, actually, we’re running out of people. We have plants moving in by the thousands. We have car companies coming from Japan and from Germany, from lots of other places, and we need people. And employers are hiring prisoners, and they would have never done it, except for what we’ve done with criminal justice reform. But even before that, because the economy has become so powerful.
And these prisoners have done an incredible job. The employers are saying, “Why didn’t I do this 20 years ago?”
So it’s an incredible thing what’s happening to people that are given a second chance, and sometimes a third chance, in all fairness. And it’s something that everybody in this room should be very proud about, because you’ve always felt that way long before it was fashionable. So I want to thank you for that. (Applause.)
As we revive our economy, we are also renewing our national spirit. Today we proudly proclaim that faith is alive and well and thriving in America. And we’re going to keep it that way. Nobody will have it changed. (Applause.) It won’t happen. As long as I’m here, it will never, ever happen. (Applause.)
Something which wasn’t done nearly enough — I could almost say wasn’t done at all — we are standing up for persecuted Christians and religious minorities all around the world — (applause) — like nobody has ever done.
Last year, at the United Nations, I was honored to be the first President to host a meeting of religious freedom. It was based all on religious freedom. That was the first meeting of its kind ever held at the United Nations. There I called upon all nations to combat the terrible injustice of religious persecution. And people listened.
And countries that we give billions of dollars to, they listened because they had to listen. (Laughter.) It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? (Laughter.) That nobody ever played that game before. (Laughter.)
Weeks ago, a 21-year-old woman, who goes by the name of Mary, was seized and imprisoned in Iran because she converted to Christianity and shared the Gospel with others.
In Venezuela, the dictator Maduro has arrested church leaders. At the State of the Union, I was honored to host the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. (Applause.) Good man. I told him that all Americans stand with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.
Yesterday, our administration launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance, the first-ever alliance devoted to promoting religious liberty. It was something. Really something. (Applause.)
More than 25 countries have already joined our campaign. I want to thank Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Ambassador Sam Brownback, who are both here this morning, for leading this historic initiative. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. (Applause.) Thank you.
All of us here today reaffirm these timeless truths: Faith keeps us free. Prayer makes us strong. And God alone is the author of life and the giver of grace. (Applause.)
With us this morning is a pastor who embodies the miracle of faith and the power of prayer: Reverend Gerald Toussaint from Louisiana. Reverend Toussaint is an Army veteran, a truck driver, and a pastor. He leads the same church that his father led, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which has been a pillar of the community for more than 140 years.
Last year, Mount Pleasant was one of three African American churches in Louisiana that was destroyed in a fire set by a wicked, hate-filled arsonist.
Yet, in the wake of such shocking evil, America witnessed the unshakable unity, devotion, and spirit of Reverend Toussaint and his entire highly spirited, beautiful congregation. Families quickly came together in prayer. Soon, people from all across Louisiana came to help any way they could. Americans in all 50 states and 20 different countries heard about it and they donated more than $2 million to help rebuild Mount Pleasant — (applause) — and the other two churches that were (inaudible).
On Easter Sunday, just days after he lost his church, Reverend Toussaint preached about what it all meant. What does it mean? “The Easter season,” he said, “is a fitting metaphor for recent events. It was dark the day that Jesus was crucified. It was dark [at] night when they burned our church. What has happened since is like a resurrection.” Old things are gone, but it’s going to be a brand-new start, and it’s going to be better than ever, Reverend. (Applause.) Better than ever. Fantastic.
And today, just 10 months later, the ground is cleared. Careful plans have been made, and they’re beautiful plans. And construction is about to begin on the new and very, very magnificent Mount Pleasant Church. Congratulations. (Applause.)
You know, the Reverend says that we’re rebuilding because that’s what Jesus does. He rebuilds, he lives, and he breathes. It’s what he does. He wants it to be rebuilt. It was torn apart, but it’s being rebuilt again, and I’ll bet you it will indeed be bigger, better, and nicer than before. What do you think, Reverend? Yes? And it’s going to have your mark on it. It did have and now it will have even great. And your father is looking down on you right now and he’s very, very proud of the job that you’ve done. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Very much inspire us, Reverend. Thank you.
Well, I want to just thank everybody. This has been very special. Tell your congregation that — and all of your people — that we have 350 million people in our country. They’re proud Americans. And they respect what we’re doing, even those that you don’t think so much like us, respect us, want to be with us. They’re respecting our fight, and we are in a fight.
Religion in this country and religion all over the world — certain religions in particular — are under siege. We won’t let that happen. We are going to protect our religions. We are going to protect Christianity. We are going to protect our great ministers and pastors and rabbis and all of the people that we so cherish and that we so respect.
America is eternally in the debt of our nation’s African American churches all throughout this country. That’s why it’s so fitting and so — it’s one of the reasons we chose this particular church in Louisiana. For generations, they bravely fought for justice and lifted up the conscience of our nation. And we’re grateful beyond any measure.
But I can say that going beyond that, we’re grateful to the people in this room for the love they show to religion. Not one religion, but many religions. They are brave. They are brilliant. They are fighters. They like people. And sometimes they hate people. I’m sorry. I apologize. I’m trying to learn. (Laughter.) It’s not easy. It’s not easy. (Applause.)
When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy, folks. (Laughter.) I do my best.
But I’ll tell you what we are doing: We’re restoring hope and spreading faith. We’re helping citizens of every background take part in the great rebuilding of our nation. We’re declaring that America will always shine as a land of liberty and light unto all nations of the world. We want every nation to look up to us like they are right now. We were not a respected nation just a few years ago. We had lost our way. Our country is respected again by everybody. (Applause.)
This morning, let us ask Father in Heaven to guide our steps, protect our children, and bless our families. And with all of our heart, let us forever embrace the eternal truth that every child is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.
Thank you. God Bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
How our president and our mass shooters are connected to the same dark psychic forces.
What links Donald Trump to the men who massacred innocents in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend? Note that I said both men: the one with the white-nationalist manifesto and the one with some kind of atheist-socialist politics; the one whose ranting about a “Hispanic invasion” echoed Trump’s own rhetoric and the one who was anti-Trump and also apparently the lead singer in a “pornogrind” band.
Bringing up their differing worldviews can be a way for Trump-supporting or anti-anti-Trump conservatives to diminish or dismiss the president’s connection to these shootings. That’s not what I’m doing. I think Trump is deeply connected to what happened last weekend, deeply connected to both massacres. Not because his immigration rhetoric drove the El Paso shooter to mass murder in some direct and simple way; life and radicalism and violence are all more complicated than that. But because Trump participates in the general cultural miasma that generates mass shooters, and having a participant as president makes the problem worse.
The president’s bigoted rhetoric is obviously part of this. Marianne Williamson put it best, in the last Democratic debate: There really is a dark psychic force generated by Trump’s political approach, which from its birther beginnings has consistently encouraged and fed on a fevered and paranoid form of right-wing politics, and dissolved quarantines around toxic and dehumanizing ideas. And the possibility that Trump’s zest for demonization can feed a demonic element in the wider culture is something the many religious people who voted for the president should be especially willing to consider.
But the connection between the president and the young men with guns extends beyond Trump’s race-baiting to encompass a more essential feature of his public self — which is not the rhetoric or ideology that he deploys, but the obvious moral vacuum, the profound spiritual black hole, that lies beneath his persona and career.
Here I would dissent, mildly, from the desire to tell a mostly ideological story in the aftermath of El Paso, and declare war on “white nationalism” — a war the left wants because it has decided that all conservatism can be reduced to white supremacy, and the right wants as a way of rebutting and rejecting that reductionism.
By all means disable 8Chan and give the F.B.I. new marching orders; by all means condemn racism more vigorously than this compromised president can do. But recognize we’re dealing with a pattern of mass shootings, encompassing both the weekend’s horrors, where the personal commonalities between the shooters are clearly more important than the political ones. Which suggests that the white nationalism of internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath.
And this is what really links Trump to all these empty male killers, white nationalists and pornogrind singers alike. Like them he is a creature of our late-modern anti-culture, our internet-accelerated dissolution of normal human bonds. Like them he plainly believes in nothing but his ego, his vanity, his sense of spite and grievance, and the self he sees reflected in the mirror of television, mass media, online.
Because he is rich and famous and powerful, he can get that attention with a tweet about his enemies, and then experience the rush of a cable-news segment about him. He doesn’t need to plot some great crime to lead the news; he just has to run for president. But having him as president — having him as a political exemplar for his party, and a cultural exemplar of manhood for his supporters and opponents both — is a constant ratification of the idea that we exist as celebrities or influencers or we don’t exist at all, and that our common life is essentially a form of reality television where it doesn’t matter if you’re the heel or hero so long as you’re the star.
One recurring question taken up in this column is whether something good might come out of the Trump era. I keep returning to this issue because unlike many conservatives who opposed him in 2016, I actually agree with, or am sympathetic toward, versions of ideas that Trump has championed — the idea of a
- more populist and worker-friendly conservative economics, the idea of a
- foreign policy with a more realpolitik and anti-interventionist spirit, the idea that
- decelerating low-skilled immigration would benefit the common good, the idea that
- our meritocratic, faux-cosmopolitan elite has badly misgoverned the republic.
But to take this view, and to reject the liberal claim that any adaptation to populism only does the devil’s work, imposes a special obligation to recognize the profound emptiness at the heart of Trump himself. It’s not as if you could carve away his race-baiting and discover a healthier populism instead, or analyze him the way you might analyze his more complex antecedents, a Richard Nixon or a Ross Perot. To analyze Trump is to discover only bottomless appetite and need, and to carve at him is like carving at an online troll: The only thing to discover is the void.
So in trying to construct a new conservatism on the ideological outline of Trumpism, you have to be aware that you’re building around a sinkhole and that your building might fall in.
The same goes for any conservative response to the specific riddle of mass shootings. Cultural conservatives get a lot of grief when they respond to these massacres by citing moral and spiritual issues, rather than leaping straight to gun policy (or in this case, racist ideology). But to look at the trend in these massacres, the spikes of narcissistic acting-out in a time of generally-declining violence, the shared bravado and nihilism driving shooters of many different ideological persuasions, is to necessarily encounter a moral and spiritual problem, not just a technocratic one.
But the dilemma that conservatives have to confront is that you can chase this cultural problem all the way down to its source in lonely egomania and alienated narcissism, and you’ll still find Donald Trump’s face staring back to you.
Later came a Judge Kavanaugh who bore little resemblance to the milquetoast man on Fox News three nights earlier. Indignant and defiant, nostrils flaring, the judge unleashed a torrent of pain and grievance, at times unable to speak as he cried in front of a national audience.
.. Not all C-Span callers were sympathetic to Dr. Blasey. “She talks like she was raped,” said Sherry, a Republican in California who said she was sexually attacked at 17. “I’m going, ‘Was she raped or not?’ I don’t understand why she’s crying now.”
.. On the networks, commentators spoke of the day in historic terms. “Fifty years from now, people are going to be playing that exchange,” the CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, singling out Dr. Blasey’s pained recollection of the boys who, she said, laughed as she was assaulted.
.. “This was extremely emotional, extremely raw, extremely credible,” Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host, said of Dr. Blasey’s testimonial. Before lunchtime, he was calling the hearing “a disaster for the Republicans,” and Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News commentator who speaks occasionally with Mr. Trump, said, “The president cannot be happy with this.”
By evening, though, after Judge Kavanaugh’s tear-choked appearance, Mr. Wallace said the judge had delivered “exactly what a lot of people were hoping for.”