It might be hard for most Americans to believe, but President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters are not only not disgusted by his sadistic approach to perceived enemies but they relish it — this is in part what draws them to him.
Salon’s Chauncey DeVega noted recently that the right-wing media machine has been preparing soon-to-be Trump supporters for such an approach to immigrants, minorities and liberals for years, and they have taken the bait, hook, line and sinker.
For several decades the right-wing echo chamber has told its followers (and the general public) that Democrats, liberals, progressives and any other group that Republicans and conservatives viewed as the enemy were to be vanquished and destroyed -- literally. This violent language is so commonplace that when Republicans and other conservatives use it, most critics, and the public as a whole, do not take the matter seriously. It is now the equivalent of background noise in America's public discourse.
Donald Trump encourages violence against his political enemies as a matter of routine. He has targeted nonwhite immigrants, refugees and migrants for eliminationist violence by calling them "snakes," "vermin," "invaders," "rapists," "criminals," "murderers," "terrorists" and human poison who only want to come to America to "breed" while also raping and killing white people. Trump's language is not much different from the way the Nazis described Jews and other peoples they targeted for genocide. So it is not surprising that Trump and the right-wing media's encouragement of eliminationist violence has born lethal fruit.
From last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally to last month’s synagogue mass shooting, and from the pipe bomb mailer to tear gas thrown at migrants on the border, Trump has encouraged and enabled violent thought and action against these perceived enemies — those who do not belong in the U.S. and will only do harm to “real Americans”.
So commonplace has Trump’s rhetoric become that nearly nothing shocks anymore.
Donald Trump's behavior has been normalized. It is no longer a source of mass outrage and protest. The American people have rapidly adjusted to this toxic political and social climate.
In total, America under Donald Trump is a very sick society. He is the leader of a pathocracy. A healthy society would not behave in such a way.
In a sick society, violence and cruelty are normalized as a type of spectacle. It is not just that leaders and other elites give permission for this behavior but also that individuals and groups must participate. The fascist authoritarian may have a great amount of charisma. He or she may control the military and police and the media. But as with the American form of fascism under Donald Trump he requires complicity and support from a significant percentage of the public. Permission for violence is one of the primary ways of winning this loyalty.
In its most recent iteration, Trump’s sadism appeared via tear gas canisters lobbed at Central American men, women and children at the U.S. border with Mexico — and his supporters not only were unphased but applauded and celebrated the president’s efforts.
Over the weekend, Trump's defenders joked about inflicting such cruelty on vulnerable and desperate people, saying about tear gas: “It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes. It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it." Trump escalated this by claiming that U.S. Border Patrol agents were at great risk. He told an especially bizarre additional lie to deflect criticism and outrage, saying that the "tear gas" was "special" and "gentle."
One Fox News commentator took to social media and gloated, “Bum-rushing the border is a CHOICE and has consequences. Watching the USA FINALLY defend our borders was the HIGHLIGHT of my Thanksgiving weekend.”
While Trump and his allies have claimed that the use of force along the border is intended as a "deterrent" to stop "invaders" from abroad, this is not true. The real audience is domestic.