Hard News by Russell Brown

135

RNC 2016: A literal shitshow

There is a norovirus outbreak at the Republican National Congress. To be fair, uncontrollable vomiting and loss of bowel control would be a reasonable response to the contents of the convention's first day. You may find some irony in the fact that norovirus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route.

"This is insane," I tweeted yesterday as I watched three people get up and tell their stories under the banner 'Victims of Illegal Immigrants', but it was in keeping with the constant tone of fear and hatred that underscored the day's theme of Make America Safe Again.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who Trump would appoint as Secretary of Defense, demanded military readiness for "multiple" conflicts. He dragged the term "New American Century" out of some fetid necon cellar, he warned darkly that America's enemies had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and he repeatedly led a chant calling for Trump's political opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be locked up. That's an undeniably unnerving thing to hear a prospective leader of a country's armed forces to say.

But the US news media overlooked all this savagery in favour of wall-to-wall commentary on Melania Trump's plagiarism. The Trump campaign obliged by denying, in the face of all evidence, that there had in fact been any plagiarism at all. It got to the point where they were quoting My Little Pony to justify it. They insisted, bizarrely, that the controversy was Hillary Clinton's fault.

As Josh Marshall notes, this reaction of denial and attack is characteristic of Trump and, by extension, his campaign. Marshall also says this:

In substantive terms, the much bigger story from last night was a hastily thrown together program focused on violence, bloodshed and betrayal by political enemies. We've become so inured to Trump's brand of incitement that it's barely gotten any notice that Trump had three parents whose children had been killed by illegal/undocumented immigrants tell their stories and whip up outrage and fear about the brown menace to the South. These were either brutal murders or killings with extreme negligence. The pain these parents experience is unfathomable. 

But whatever you think about undocumented immigrants there's no evidence they are more violent or more prone to murder than others in American society. One could just as easily get three people whose children had been killed by African-Americans or Jews, people whose pain and anguish would be no less harrowing. This isn't illustration; it's incitement. When Trump first did this in California a couple months ago people were aghast. Now it's normal.

Day two of the conference seems to offer a similar mix to day one of the chilling and the preposterous. Yesterday, we heard speeches from several reality TV stars and a fading sitcom legend. Today, there's a golder, a soap opera star, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the manager of Trump's winery.

Again, it will probably be a matter of can't-bear-to-watch-but-can't-look-away. I've embedded the live stream below. Let's all hold hands and wonder what the hell is going on. Together.

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