It’s part of the inevitable cumulative radicalization of every fascist regime, especially one that is formulated around a cult of personality, to create contexts of conflict. Donald Trump’s recent invocation of like-minded ghouls at the White House, where he assembled his favorite white supremacists, is a case in point.
Trump invited his guests to join him in dolorous mourning of social media’s encroachment of their rights. Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory is that entities of social media, Twitter in particular, are deliberately making it difficult for ordinary people to follow him. We have seen this kind of thing as a feature of Trump’s insecurity. When he lost the popular vote by nearly three million, he insisted there were at least three million illegal ballots cast.
So it comes as no surprise that Trump simply cannot accept that a significant percentage of his Twitter followers are bots, and Twitter, not as a personal slam on Trump but by way of a duty of care to all of its followers, is actively removing bots. Trump proclaimed, “Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump. They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!”
Of course, that Trump is concerned about how many people follow him on Twitter ought to be the last thing he notices. He has a job to do called president of the United States, not a job as a social media popularity contest winner. But Trump has demonstrated over and over that, apart from showing up at ceremonies where his glory may be magnified, he hasn’t the least interest in actually performing that job, and so far he never has. After all, the job involves too much reading and listening to experts and boring stuff like that.
Provoking people to hate one another appears to be Trump’s particular aim, and once his “summit” of ghouls concluded, he permitted some of them to join him in the Rose Garden. There he announced his decision to climb down from his citizenship question for the 2020 census, ominously hinting that he would use “other means” to accumulate that data.
It was at some point that white supremacist and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka accosted Trump critic and Playboy reporter Brian Karem. “You’re not a journalist — you’re a punk!” Gorka yelled at him. “And for the record, he would kick your punk ass,” another summit attendee said to Karem, as others chanted “Gor-ka! Gor-ka!”
None of this behavior will ever be condemned by Trump. Trump exists to divide us with hatred. Even Hitler had the good sense to officially distance himself from the thuggish behavior of his Brown Shirts before murdering their leaders and consolidating his power base. It would appear Trump intends keeping his.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.