The Internet is full of hate, but it’s not random hate.
Some Trump supporters like to yell “Sig Heil!” and, “Light the motherfucker on fire!” at Black protesters, but not that many of them, so that’s not it. His people are younger, less educated, and less Evangelical than the typical Republican primary voter. But what motivates them besides, presumably, racism? It’s not necessary, or really possible, to answer whether Trump is a true fascist in a literal sense, but what he brings out is a mix of racism, nationalism, and masculinity that has something in common with the old fascisms (and here I’m influenced by some old work I read by George Mosse, which I can’t really vouch for, as I haven’t kept up with the masculinity/fascism literature).
This is salient in the U.S., of course, where racism, nationalism, and masculinity are three peas in a pod (see lynching, etc.). Anyway, this came home a little during last night’s Republic primary debate.
After Bush attacked Trump for his lack of foreign policy knowledge and said he was “not a serious kind of candidate,” Trump lashed out (transcript here):
Look, the problem is we need toughness. Honestly, I think Jeb is a very nice person. He’s a very nice person. But we need tough people. We need toughness. We need intelligence and we need tough. Jeb said when they come across the southern border they come as an “act of love.”
That is true, by the way. In another era – early 2014 – when Bush said this about some immigrants:
Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.
But what struck me was the repetition of “tough” and it’s juxtaposition with “love.” The contempt with which Trump said it, obviously a prepared line. After they got done interrupting each other, Trump continued:
We need a toughness. We need strength. We’re not respected, you know, as a nation anymore. We don’t have that level of respect that we need. And if we don’t get it back fast, we’re just going to go weaker, weaker and just disintegrate.
This is a line of attack Trump has used against both Bush and Hillary Clinton before. This is from a couple weeks ago:
“They only understand strength,” Mr. Trump said [about people the president has to deal with]. “They don’t understand weakness. Somebody like Jeb, and others that are running against me — and by the way, Hillary is another one. I mean, Hillary is a person who doesn’t have the strength or the stamina, in my opinion, to be president. She doesn’t have strength or stamina. She’s not a strong enough person to be president.”
Trump’s tone and the masculinist references to toughness (and strength, and stamina*), as opposed to love, prompted me to tweet this:
It seemed he was saying it without saying it. Weak, not tough, lovey-dovey — gay. Am I reaching? A number of my Twitter readers seemed to agree. But then, after a little while, the Tweet started to get liked and retweeted by a bunch of Trump supporters, including some far-right, racist and nativist types, like these:
Forrest Gump was not gay, but I don’t have to try to hard to connect this dig to homophobia, because Patriot Retort has this on the same page:
Anyway, I could go on following this trail, but you get the point: they want Trump to call him gay.
New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza Tweeted this clip from Back to the Future, in which bully Biff tortures George McFly, which he said the Trump-Bush interaction called to mind:
You don’t have to be gay (George McFly wasn’t) to be tarred with the not-masculine brush, of course. It’s a series of associations. And in the Trump situation, they’re really blooming.
* Note: Trump’s recent medical report specifically stated his “strength and stamina are extraordinary.”)