Too often has history been written in such a way that it has allowed for extreme points of view to fester among pockets of small but like-minded people. One doesn’t need to look all the way across the Atlantic or the Pacific to find examples of that in the rise and now apparent fall of Donald Trump; they can be found much, much closer to home. But perhaps, right now, that is too close for comfort.
When we think of oppression, we immediately go to the ideologies which run in direct opposition to the version of the left-wing sentiment that is popular today. We go to the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, we think of Hitler and the Nazis, we think of Mussolini and the Fascists, we go sometimes to the Marxist-Leninist state of the Soviet Union.
And that’s an easy place to go to. One-party governments which claim to speak for the people and systematically shut down dissenting voices are not sustainable, as far history is concerned. Eventually, even the majority who were behind the government to start with notice how little the freedom they themselves have to warrant any modicum of satisfaction.
If Hitler hadn’t let the Axis powers’ first two years of success get to his head and lain siege on Leningrad and Stalingrad, who knows, maybe we’d be in a different global climate altogether. But these “extreme” forms of government aren’t born out of thin air.
Comparisons between Trump and Hitler, which many people have all too often made, is a bit of a stretch, but worth mentioning. Though Hitler is too often deemed to be one of the -- if not the sole -- face of evil in the history of the world as we know it, it must be remembered that the Fuhrer’s rise to power came out of a vacuum.
The emasculation of Germany via the Treaty of Versailles, leading to massive hyperinflation resulting in the Mark’s value becoming a trillionth of what it used to be, and the blame that the nation received, having to make up for a war that they didn’t really even start (worthy of debate), is what allowed for the National Socialist Party to rise.
When you pigeonhole a group to such an extent that the only seemingly viable option is a party that is vehemently opposing the status quo, even popular sentiment waves in favour of extremist views.
The rise of Trump
And the popularity of Trump is no different. We speak of the “othering” of Muslims and minorities at the hands of Western imperialist nations, of dehumanising them as a means of making their subsequent oppression and annihilation something that we can ingest, but the other side (our side?) is as guilty of it as the right-wing rhetoric that people like Donald Trump emit.
With the recent reveal of Trump’s misogynistic tapes, one in which he mentions grabbing women by the genitals and in another where he says how he’ll be dating a 10-year-old girl in another 10 years’ time, have, as far as one can logically predict, been the final nails in Trump’s dying Republican campaign of a coffin.
But the American people have gotten lucky to have been born in an era of technology and political correctness (if it can be called lucky to settle for the likes of Hillary). But what if these tapes hadn’t been revealed? What if the kind of misogyny and Islamophobia shown by Trump was an acceptable rhetoric, much like the anti-Semitism leading up to the Second World War?
In fact, before the allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, Trump had pretty much run his name into becoming the official Republican candidate on an anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim campaign. And it was largely successful in the same way the Nazis were.
The American people have gotten lucky to have been born in an era of technology and political correctness (if it can be called lucky to settle for the likes of Hillary). But what if these tapes hadn’t been revealed?
For the so-called “white trash” of America, working minimum wage jobs with their “uneducated” views and their not politically correct enough points of view, too scared to air them because they’d be ostracised by the mainstream media, Trump had the sizeable gonads to flip the finger that they so wished they too could.
This is not saying that Trump and his followers are not to be blamed here; but why did they feel this way in the first place? The mainstream left-wing liberal narrative has its own way of “othering” and dehumanising these people, be it in the form of derogatory terms such as rednecks, or merely not listening to them when they speak and trying to understand the place that they’re coming from, or simply with the use of language which makes it seem so obvious that these hicks are in the “wrong,” even though these “hicks” themselves can very well understand how they came to their own conclusions.
A leader who appears to talk straight
It is in front of their very eyes that Muslim after Muslim is wreaking terrorist havoc, Mexicans are coming in and working for too little pay, you can’t talk about these godforsaken women anymore without being accused of misogyny -- and you can’t even say anything about it.
To them, maybe, it seems like it’s the other side that waxes poetic about freedom of expression but can’t handle it when it comes to their own viewpoints, which have suddenly become too radical and inappropriate for the modern world.
In fact, the new Trump tapes possibly hold opinions that a huge chunk of his followers, if not the American public in general would’ve mirrored themselves, but it was too over the line on a public platform to be deemed acceptable even amongst them.
But, next time, the next Trump figure might not be as inappropriate, as uneducated, as untethered as Trump is. Next time, the Democratic Clinton-type might not be so lucky as to have the presidency handed to them on a silver platter.
Next time, unless the liberal media learns to listen to the other side without dismissing it sans empathy, from the rubble of the sexist, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic narrative might rise an opponent far more formidable than the unfiltered flapping mouth of Donald Trump.
SN Rasul is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.