Month one of the Trumpocalypse

Trumpocalypse

Image: Esquire.com

It’s been almost a month since Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States. Although we’re still two months away from the official beginning of the Trumpocalypse, we’ve been feeling the effects of it since election day. Here’s a look at what happened during the first month of the Trumpocalypse and how you can help the resistance.

Hate crimes

Suicide hotlines across the US received record numbers of phone calls after the election. “Scared” was the most common sentiment and who could blame them? Trump’s win immediately emboldened racists all over the US to start terrorising LGBTIQ people, people of colour, Muslims, immigrants, women, and anyone else who was mistaken to be a member of one of these marginalised groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) collected more than 700 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment through news reports, social media, and direct submissions via SPLC’s #ReportHate page. Mashable collected a list of hateful attacks shared online since the election, which includes photos and videos. And videos of random, public tirades by Trump supporters such as this one and this one are starting to pile up as well.

What you can do: Check out these two fantastic visual resources from Paris-based freelance illustrator Maeril: How to support minorities during a wave of hate crimes and What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment. If you witness a hateful incident and you feel safe enough to do so, intervene, document it and report it. Mainstream media has not been diligent in reporting Trump-inspired violence so if you want to stay informed, follow Hatewatch and Shaun King on Twitter or Facebook. Get involved with an organisation that supports a cause you’re passionate about.

The “alt-right”

Everyone’s heard about the Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and skinheads. The “alt-right” ain’t your grandpa’s hate group.

The “alt-right”, short for “alternative right”, is a loose group of people with far right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism. If you’re not sure what the”alt-right” is or where it came from, let me break it down for you:

  • it is populist, white nationalist, white supremacist, racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-feminism
  • it is opposed to immigration, multiculturalism, and political correctness
  • it has a strong online presence in the cesspool of the internet, loves memes, and has its own lingo
  • one of its major mouthpieces is Breitbart News, whose executive chair was Steve Bannon, whom Trump has appointed his Chief Strategist
  • its poster boys are professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter, and wannabe cover model Richard Spencer, the “dapper” fellow shown in the tweets above

I know that kind of sounds like Republicans, but they’re more like the far right on steroids. The “alt-right” is actually hostile to mainstream conservatives and to the Republican Party.

It’s easy to dismiss Trump’s racist supporters as backwater rednecks, but take a good look at them:

Three young people doing a Nazi salute.

The National Policy Institute conference in Washington DC in November. Image: Tila Tequila.

Young white males celebrating Trump victory.

Trump supporters on election night.

Do these look like the faces of America’s impoverished white people? According to CNN’s exit polls, 53% of white college graduate men voted for him. 47% of white males from 18-29 voted for him. 71% of white non-college men, including those in high school or almost done with college, voted for him.

The “alt-right” is young, white, and male. Its members are aligned with Gamergate and Men’s Rights Activism (MRA). What? You don’t know what Gamer Gate and MRA are? Do I have to teach you everything?

In short, MRA is a backlash to feminism. Basically, they’re a bunch of teenagers and man-babies living in their parents’ basements, chatting online about how feminism is the reason they can’t have girlfriends. As for Gamergate, it is, in theory, about ethics in gaming journalism and the gamer identity. In practice, it’s a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives who harass female game designers, journalists, and critics online. These two things, MRA and Gamergate, may sound different, but they bond over a shared misogyny.

If it sounds laughable, that’s because it is, but it’s also dangerous. The election results are evidence of that. These young social misfits are suckers for leaders who assure them they’re “alpha males” and they can be just like them, who tell them that rape isn’t real because, as Spencer said after the revelation of the Access Hollywood tape, “At some part of every woman’s soul, they want to be taken by a strong man.” (I’m not going to link to that podcast. If you really want to listen to it, you can search for it.)

In Trump, these young, white males see a reflection of who they want to be: wealthy, powerful, with a beautiful, younger wife who appears to be a good mother, and still a man who can grab women by their genitals without consent and suffer no consequences

Here are two important things to remember:

  1. The “alt-right” isn’t just about white supremacy. It’s about white male supremacy.
  2. Boys, teens, and  young men are being radicalized online. Very few people are talking about this.

What you can do: Wear your feminism proudly. Support a women’s rights organisations such as NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, RAINN, or the National Women’s Law Center. If you’re a man who considers himself progressive, even feminist, you have to step up. When you hear other men talking about how “feminism is cancer”, you need to speak up.

Trump’s appointments

Trump’s appointees are made up of personal staff members that he can appoint and cabinet members that are nominated by him and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority vote. The New York Times has an up-to-date list of his appointments, nominees, and potential candidates. It’s pretty grim.

What you can do: Don’t assume it’s hopeless. Republicans are not all on board with Trump’s picks and there are still enough Democrats in the Senate to give Trump a hard time. Learn about Trump’s picks, read this article on how to effectively lobby your Congressmember, and then pick up the phone.

  • Click here to find out who your state representative is and how to call him or her.
  • Click here to call Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
  • Click here to call your senator.
  • Click here to call the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

Don’t know what to say? Here’s a script:

“Hello. I’m calling to express my opposition to the appointment of X because Y. Please oppose this nomination and insist that Trump govern with consideration for the majority of Americans that did not vote for him.”

Trump and the media

It’s no secret that Trump is hostile to the media. His private meeting with network executives was described as a “f−−−ing firing squad“. The New York Times journalists described their meeting with him as surreal, calling him ungracious and defiant at times. Trump gave 60 Minutes an interview, but he hasn’t held any press conferences since the election.

To put this in perspective, consider that it took George H.W. Bush one day to hold his first news conference as president-elect in 1988. It took Bill Clinton three days after his re-election in 1996. George W. Bush waited three days after the Supreme Court ruled in his favour in 2000. Barack Obama took four days in 2008. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has no “protective pool” of journalists to cover his movements.

Trump drips information through social media. On the 21st, he released a video on YouTube (and disabled the comments). By spurning traditional media briefings, Trumps avoids questions. And when the media finally gets him to sit down with them like on 60 Minutes or with the New York Times, they are feebly accommodating rather than asking him tough questions and holding him accountable.

Fake news was also a hot topic this month. Not to be confused with satire, fake news are deliberately fraudulent. The impact of fake news is being examined. Google and Facebook said they would take actions to deny ad revenue to fraudulent news sites, but neither company took actions to prevent dissemination of false stories in search engine results pages or web feeds.

What you can do: Don’t blindly engage with news on social media. Make friends with the fact-checking websites FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, Snopes.com, and The Fact Checker section of The Washington Post.

Trump’s politics

One reason I thought that Trump would lose the election is because I assumed that American voters understood enough about our laws and had enough common sense to know that Trump was full of hot air, that he can’t fulfill the promises he made. He can’t build the Great Wall of America and make Mexico pay for it. He can’t deport 11 million people. He can’t prosecute Hillary Clinton. These promises have been falling like dominoes, but apparently, we weren’t supposed to take these promises literally.

Trump says a lot of things, but none of it means anything specific and ignorant opinions are not policy. It’s hard to say what kind of president Trump will be and there are so many other issues that I haven’t even touched here such as the environment, net neutrality, cybersecurity, intellectual property, and space exploration. But Trump’s staff appointments, hostility to the media, bizarre Twitter tantrums, his conflicts of interest, and token, shady deals are concerning.

What you can do: The holidays are here and we’ll become increasingly distracted by shopping, television Christmas specials, parties, and New Year’s resolutions. Our Facebook feeds will go back to pictures of dinner and cat videos. But what we’re experiencing with Trump is not normal. Don’t let it become the new normal. Stay informed and keep speaking out. And speaking of shopping, if you’re interested in boycotting Trump’s businesses and those connected to him, there’s a new app for that. And here are six other apps to help you organise against Trump.

The silver lining

There have been some beautiful displays of support and solidarity such as this sign of love and resistance in LA, students escorting a fellow student to class after she experienced racial harassment, walls of empathy, supportive online messages, children writing letters to Trump asking him to be kind, and a Virginia mosque being “vandalised” with chalk messages of love. The embarrassed New York tenants of Trump Place successfully petitioned to drop the president-elect’s name from their apartment complex. Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco have declared themselves sanctuary cities vowing to fright Trump on immigration.

Within a week of the election, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised a record $7.2 million and vowed “to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights”. Environmental organisations have also seen a surge in donations. If you hear stories like this, share them. We need them.

And remember

If you identify as a liberal or a progressive or something like it, you’re not actually in the minority. Remember the facts of this election: about 58% of adults eligible to vote voted and most of them voted for Hillary Clinton. Stop acting like a minority party and start acting like an opposition party. Don’t buy into Trump’s bizarro-reality that being in power means he’s been given a mandate by the people. The fact is that Trump doesn’t have a majority or a plurality. We must insist that Trump govern with consideration for the majority of Americans that did not vote for him. That is the cost of cooperation.

Take care of yourself and each other. Have a laugh with these Obama and Biden memes.

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