Jean Barker

The “Trump Bump” Terror

2015-12-18 09:56

Jean Barker

It’s been a crazy December in California, too.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a terrorist attack in San Bernadino. Since then, racists have retaliated with a pipe bomb in a mosque, two attacks on women in Florida, and various other threats.

Donald Trump has called for Muslims to carry ID cards, and for a ban on entry visas for Muslims. Visa waiver requirements for people who have travelled to certain places may be tightened even further. A bomb threat hoax closed LA schools on Tuesday. Oh, and Neo-Nazi groups Stormfront and the KKK are experiencing a surge in popularity, known affectionately at Klan BBQs as the “Trump Bump”.

Fear factor

A culture of fear has gripped the USA, and California in particular. Although 88 people die a year in San Bernardino and impoverished cities like it from regular All-American murder, the uncontrollable nature of terrorism is like a fear of flying - irrationally bigger than the more logically justifiable fear of driving a motor car.

The culture of fear is so out of control here, that while reading the recent school bombing hoax email, officials were too overcome by terror it to spot obvious clues that it was total nonsense. Either that, or they don’t know how to spot a liar like I do.

Here’s how you do it: People who are lying always make up too many stories, and too many excuses. Then, they rely on you being stupid. But I know it’s a hoax because 1. The writer claims they were bullied, then also claims they’re Muslim, but the Muslim Jihadi thing is this afterthought. Please, people! 2. They claim to have been bullied, yet also claim they have 32 armed and organised friends who’re willing to die with them. I don’t think so. 3. They spell Allah with a lowercase a. And I quote: “I wish you the best luck. It is time to pray to allah (sic), as this may be your last day.” And finally, the most obvious clue of all? 4. They wrote a bomb threat. When did you ever hear of terrorists issuing warnings? Never, that’s when.

Yet a lot of LA kids still fear going to school now. The hoax, probably issued by the right wing to ferment anti-Islamic sentiment, or by a kid who didn’t want to write their exams, was effectively a successful terrorist attack on the American consciousness. Fear, once sparked, is hard to quell.

Can I blame Donald Trump for this idiocy? Not really. If racism and selfishness is the Ebola of politics, then Trump is really just the obvious symptom - the ideological equivalent of vomiting and bleeding from your eyes until you die.

However, there’s alarming evidence that Trump’s xenophobic racial attacks have emboldened dangerous forces.

One Million Readers

Every time Trump opens his square speaking hole, Stormfront and the KKK gain members and notice what they call a huge “Trump bump” in their web traffic.

In case you don’t know what they are, Stormfront and the KKK are basically “ISIS for white Christians”. They’re extremist, militant, and… legal… because of freedom of speech. Thanks to the beloved Second Amendment, they’re also armed to the teeth. Although formal membership is small, the Internet makes their reach disturbingly big, and stats indicate that you were seven times more likely to be killed by a white right-winger than by Jihadis in the years since 9/11.

Yet, facts don’t matter to Trump types. The 15% lunatic/dumbass fringe of America love this guy.

Stormfront spokesperson Don Black told Politico: “He has sparked an insurgency and I don’t think it’s going to go away.” He added that his site gets a million unique visitor a month, and that traffic spiked 30-40% during key moments in Trump’s ascendancy, forcing him to buy new web servers to cope with increased traffic.

Rachel Pendergraft, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas-based KKK affiliate Knights Party says their members use Trump as a talking point while canvassing, and Tom Metzger, founder of the racial separatist group White Aryan Resistance loves the Trump Bump too. The racism with which Donald Trump is heavily pregnant suits their politics perfectly.

Officially, these organisations don’t condone violent actions. However, the political philosophies they espouse on their websites and the actions of their adherents suggest they’re okay when people take matters into their own hands.

Can words harm?

The Germans believe words can certainly lead to harm. They have some of the strictest hate speech laws in the world.

This is because they had a similar problem with a leader very much like Trump, less than 100 years ago. At first nobody took the guy seriously. He had horrible hair, was physically repulsive, a failure as an artist, and generally disliked. But he fired the imagination of those who wanted someone to blame for their country’s troubles.

His words, which were just words at first, at first inspired some random attacks. These were dismissed as not serious. In the UK and America, people said he was harmless, or he had a point, or that it wasn’t their business. Many he verbally attacked and threatened said not to worry...but they were wrong. Soon, ordinary people all over Germany and Eastern Europe were closing their eyes to genocide on their doorstep. Six million people were killed by what began as his words, and many more died all over the world in the war that was fought to end his reign.

His name, as you already know, was Adolf Hitler.

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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