America, 2019. Year III of the Trump era. The southern border has become the front line in an ethnic war waged by the nativist administration: 12 migrants have died in prison camps since September, and an unknown number (in the thousands) of children have been separated from their parents and lost in the militarized bureaucracy of anti-migrant “deterrence.”
With the humiliating capitulation of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico is being subjected to the Euro-African model, with permanent refugee camps crammed beyond the border, to which asylum seekers are sent back to wait for a hearing, which in most cases will never come.
Meanwhile, in this burgeoning national gulag, whole families and children (60,000 people) are interned indefinitely and in appalling conditions.
Trump is right to claim victory: once he managed to enlist the Mexican National Guard as an offshore security force, the flow was sharply reduced. Combined with raids and deportations, his eugenic project is beginning to bear fruit.
The brown-skinned population is psychologically terrorized. While Trump has backed off for now from the notion of adding the citizenship question to the next national census in 2020, he seems to have reached his goal all the same: politically, Hispanics are being increasingly annihilated.
In retrospect, it took barely a moment to dismantle the founding mythology of the “nation of immigrants” and replace it with zero tolerance and night raids. Looking at the big picture, the internal resistance ended up being minimal.
After they normalized racism and cruelty as national policy, the extremists in the White House are forging ahead to establish supremacist ideology as a “political philosophy,” following the social indoctrination playbook of all “democratically” established totalitarian regimes.
There is more and more extremist rhetoric and incitements to extremism being spewed from everywhere, from the obscure websites of the extreme right all the way to official speeches.
Just like with the anti-gender or climate denial movement, the subversion of scientific rationalism and the democratic tradition are becoming official doctrine.
The censorship of federal agencies is a fact: scientists have been warned to never use the words “climate change” in official reports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just announced a new “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” The group, made up of various scholars and luminaries, many with strong ties to the Vatican (its president, Mary Ann Glendon, is an anti-abortion activist and former ambassador to Rome), will, according to Pompeo, re-examine the very concept of what human rights are and provide “fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”
Such “fresh thinking,” barely disguised under the veneer pseudo-intellectual jargon, echoes what one can read about on the extreme right about the need to eliminate politically-won rights, as an expression of the “contractualistic conception of liberal society,” and to return instead to supposedly divine or “natural” rights.
Thus, Trump and Pompeo’s “fresh” thought seems to be merely an expression of the most reactionary impulses.
The stated mission of the commission is to go back to the “original” rights of the US Constitution, which implies the rejection of “ad hoc” rights: namely, those achieved some time after the sacred words of the Founding Fathers. In a society that has been amending the original text for 250 years, adding rights gained through blood and political struggle, such “heresies” presumably include the emancipation of slaves, the right to vote for black people and women, the integration of minorities, and the latest such as LGBTQI rights.
Pompeo—former CIA director, member of the Heritage Foundation and close to Opus Dei, climate denialist, homophobe and torturer—apparently can’t stomach the idea that the Constitution can change. Just under the surface of the pseudo-philosophical veneer of his committee lurks the attempt to revive notions such as the divine right of rulers and Blut und Boden (blood and soil), to which neo-Nazis and other nostalgics pay fealty.
Similarly, for the strict constructionist judges of today’s conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the project is to turn back the political clock a couple of centuries, and undo not only Martin Luther King or the New Deal, but even the French Revolution itself.
Having risen to power, a handful of Bannonist apocalyptic theocons are working to bend the moral arc of history—which, according to King, curved toward justice—and twist it to point towards a fundamentalist and retrograde world.
Theirs would be a world in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 was merely an apocryphal footnote to be deleted from history.
The normalization of extremism knows no respite.
Last week, the White House organized a so-called “Social Media Summit,” an assembly of extreme right-wing trolls under the pretext of fighting the “censorship” which “conservative voices” are supposedly being subjected to on social media platforms.
Trump welcomed the participants with a wink and a nod, including representatives of openly white supremacist sites whom he likes to retweet (even if “some of you guys are out there. I mean, it’s genius, but it’s bad,” he said). The summit, supposedly about freedom of expression, was off limits to journalists (i.e. enemies of the people) and was instead reserved for simplified and Manichean narratives to stoke the bitterness of the “base,” around 40% of the population, which, sufficiently mobilized, would be enough for the Trumpian minority to hold on to power.
That would be a terrifying prospect, but a plausible one, built on the basis of the political and dialectical obfuscation that is getting more pervasive every day.