Self-Limiting Nonsense

And then nothing happened. America is not ending. There will be no race war, not at this time. The soldiers didn’t show up. NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny explains what didn’t happen:

In semi-private, encrypted chats, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists planned rallies in dozens of cities Sunday to promote their racist movements and spread their ideologies to larger audiences.

Hyped by organizers as events that would make “the whole world tremble,” the rallies ran into a major problem: Hardly anyone showed up.

And they had no one but themselves to blame. They blew their own cover:

The “White Lives Matter” rallies, the first major real-world organizing efforts by white supremacists since 2018, were planned on the encrypted app Telegram after many aligned groups were alleged to have taken part in the January 6 storming of the United States Capitol.

The poor showing underscores how the country’s unpopular and disorganized extremist movements have been driven underground by increased scrutiny from the media, law enforcement agencies and far-left activists who infiltrate their private online spaces and disrupt their attempts to communicate and organize.

Everyone knows how and where they hide and chat and plan now. Anyone can watch. Nothing is that private anymore. Anyone can also cleverly join in and spoof and disrupt. And there weren’t that many of them in the first place. That became obvious:

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a small crowd of antifa and anti-racist protesters gathered at the park where the “White Lives Matter” march was planned. They marched around downtown behind a large white sign that read, “WE ACCEPT YOUR SURRENDER.”

In Philadelphia, activists tweeted photos of a counterprotest picnic with pizza and Tastykake snacks. In New York City, over a dozen counterprotesters stood seemingly unopposed across the street from Trump Tower, where a “White Lives Matter” rally was expected.

Police in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, formed a circle around a lone protester to separate him from a large crowd of counterprotesters.

And it was the same out here:

Hundreds of counterprotesters, bystanders and media members gathered at a counterprotest at the scheduled start time of a “White Lives Matter” march at Huntington Beach Pier southeast of Los Angeles.

Throughout the afternoon, counterprotesters could be seen on several livestreams chanting “Unity and community” and “Black lives matter.” A few single protesters, one of whom wore a full hood and a T-shirt with a white supremacist slogan, were run off by the crowd, who yelled “Go home, Nazis!”

According to fliers for the event – which recycled images from old propaganda from the disbanded neo-Nazi organization Vanguard America – the marches were meant to “take a stand” against the media, government and educational institutions that are “anti-white.”

That’s what they were selling. No one was buying. To be clear, much of Orange Country and on south through San Diego is Trump country, and the Klan was wildly popular in Anaheim before Anaheim became pretty much Disneyland in the late fifties. Here, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson rules. That thing at the Capitol was Antifa folks faking a riot to make Trump look bad. And there’s a conspiracy to replace White folks with all those mongrel people – with a local twist – our governor out here, Gavin Newsom, has opened the door from Mexico to any and all of those folks to come here, no questions asked, and vote and make the state entirely Democratic and eventually entirely Hispanic. English will be outlawed! Our race will die out!

Those people stayed home. They wouldn’t take that last step. All that Nazi stuff was one step too far. And anyway, these particular Nazis were clowns:

Sunday’s round of racist rallies seemed destined for failure, said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University in North Carolina who tracks online extremism.

The online organizers of the North Carolina rally were uninformed about state law governing protests, including laws that disallowed firearms, Squire said. The organizers were also generally inept at using Telegram, where the event was announced, and unable to identify “obvious trolls in their midst.”

They didn’t know no one is allowed to bring guns to these kinds of events? Even hardcore NRA folks know that, and agree, but the real problem was trolls and informers:

The “White Lives Matter” rallies were disrupted in several cities after activists infiltrated their online groups and leaked internal chats to journalists. Those chats were reported to have indicated that the events were being planned by the extremist group the Proud Boys and by self-described fascists and Nazis who framed the rallies as peaceful events unaffiliated with known hate groups to recruit more mainstream members.

Organizers in several cities canceled events because of sabotage by antifa activists. Raleigh’s organizer called off a rally Friday, telling subscribers, “It turns out that the 11th is a disaster.”

Two of the largest Telegram channels dedicated to events in Philadelphia and New York City were shown to be traps created by anti-fascist activists. Another local activist tweeted screenshots of the plan’s reveal with a warning Saturday to would-be rallygoers: “Given how riddled these chats are with antifascists it might be time to rethink whether you really want to trust a bunch of anonymous internet weirdos to show up with you in your city.”

The irony is obvious. Who were the anonymous internet weirdos in the first place? But all of this was actually and predictably self-limiting:

The white supremacist movement faced a similar reckoning in 2017 after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of unifying distinct brands of white supremacist groups, the murder of counterprotester Heather Heyer and the full-throated hate on display from tiki-torch-wielding neo-Nazis invited national condemnation, legal troubles and in-group squabbling that fractured individual organizations and the hate movement overall.

After Charlottesville, there were “weak attempts to revisit former glory,” Squire said, recalling rallies where a handful of white supremacists who had led the alt-right movement were outnumbered by anti-racist counterprotesters. “The wind was knocked out of their sails, and the legal cases brought that fall certainly didn’t help.”

They’d been jerks. That’s a self-limiting factor in any endeavor. Zadrozny also notes this:

Beyond legal consequences, self-described antifa activists have made it costly to be associated with far-right and racist groups, many of them using online sleuthing to match participants at extremist rallies to their real-life identities and employers.

Mainstream online platforms where extremists were once welcomed have also tightened their policies about violent extremist content and groups.

“Not only have organized larger groups splintered, but so, too, did their social media footprint,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “Some extremists continued a whack-a-mole migration underground to encrypted, affinity-based platforms, while others exited these movements altogether.”

Yeah, you don’t want your boss to see you on the evening news in your homemade Nazi uniform carrying a torch and a shouting “White Lives Matter” over and over. Get out of there and do something else with your life, something useful. The question of Aryan Supremacy was settled long ago. Hitler lost. We won.

And let those “mongrel people” vote. That’s another part of this. Any attempt to keep them from voting is also self-limiting. The Washington Post reports this:

More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online Saturday to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia.

Executives from major airlines, retailers and manufacturers – plus at least one NFL owner – talked about potential ways to show they opposed the legislation, including by halting donations to politicians who support the bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive measures, according to four people who were on the call, including one of the organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor.

It seems that Brian Kemp’s efforts were self-limiting, and then Mitch McConnell made things worse, and Donald Trump made things even worse:

While no final steps were agreed upon, the meeting represents an aggressive dialing up of corporate America’s stand against controversial voting measures nationwide, a sign that their opposition to the laws didn’t end with the fight against the Georgia legislation passed in March.

It also came just days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that firms should “stay out of politics” – echoing a view shared by many conservative politicians and setting up the potential for additional conflict between Republican leaders and the heads of some of America’s largest firms. This month, former president Donald Trump called for conservatives to boycott Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball, Delta Air Lines, Citigroup, ViacomCBS, UPS and other companies after they opposed the law in Georgia that critics say will make it more difficult for poorer voters and voters of color to cast ballots. Baseball officials decided to move the All-Star Game this summer from Georgia to Colorado because of the voting bill.

The online call between corporate executives on Saturday “shows they are not intimidated by the flak. They are not going to be cowed,” Sonnenfeld said. “They felt very strongly that these voting restrictions are based on a flawed premise and are dangerous.”

If so, the principled and decent thing to do is to do what they could to fix this rapidly spreading nonsense:

Leaders from dozens of companies such as Delta, American, United, Starbucks, Target, LinkedIn, Levi Strauss and Boston Consulting Group, along with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, were included on the Zoom call, according to people who listened in.

The discussion – scheduled to last one hour but going 10 minutes longer – was led at times by Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, who told the executives that it was important to keep fighting what they viewed as discriminatory laws on voting. Chenault and Frazier coordinated a letter signed last month by 72 Black business executives that made a similar point – a letter that first drew attention to the voting bills in executive suites across the country.

They understood now:

The call’s goal was to unify companies that had been issuing their own statements and signing on to drafted statements from different organizations after the action in Georgia… “There was a defiance of the threats that businesses should stay out of politics,” Sonnenfeld said. “They were obviously rejecting that even with their presence (on the call). But they were there out of concern about voting restrictions not being in the public interest.”

And they were tired of being jerked around:

One Georgia-based executive talked about how the final version of Georgia’s legislation – which Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has said actually expands voting access, a claim that many have challenged – was much worse than expected, and how that should serve as a warning to other chief executives as more states consider adopting their own voting bills, according to people on the call.

They also now seem to see no advantage in being Republicans any longer:

Many of the corporate leaders who joined the call seemed to view the voting restrictions as attacks on democracy, rather than as a partisan issue, according to people who listened in.

Mike Ward, cofounder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group of businesses focused on voter engagement, said he felt there was a broad consensus at the end of the call that company leaders plan to continue working against voting bills they think are restrictive – “to lean into this, not lean away from this.”

But that’s where Kemp and McConnell and Trump miscalculated. These people had never been politically neutral on minority rights. These people had been leaning into this all along. Michele Norris – the founding director of the curious Race Card Project – “Think about the word Race. How would you distill your thoughts, experiences or observations about race into one sentence that only has six words?” – says that all you have to do is look:

If you want a sense of the endgame in the ongoing showdown between aggrieved Republicans and corporate leaders willing to criticize the party’s efforts to roll back voting rights, just flip on your TV and watch the ads.

The outcome in easy to see in the stream of multicultural and often mixed-raced families buying cars, taking vacations, planning their retirements, doing laundry and laughing at the dinner table.

You don’t watch television? Just pay attention to the pop-up ads when you surf the Web. See the smiling faces – the sea of Black, Brown, tan and golden faces – that make it clear that corporate America knows that scenes of White families are no longer the only aspirational groupings that make customers want to open their wallets.

Corporate America has already moved on. Republicans want to preserve the past, which they mistake for the present. Corporate America deals with the actual present, because that’s the future. And of course that’s where the money is too. Norris sees a branding issue:

The GOP and corporate America have been engaged in two very interesting but very different branding exercises over the past decade. For years, these two campaigns allowed both sides to maintain their mutually beneficial arrangement. In recent days, however, the two branding campaigns have collided over the most basic question in our democracy: Who gets to vote and how? Which brand will emerge from this collision in better shape is already a foregone conclusion.

That’s because the world changed and the Republicans did not:

Under the old arrangement, corporate America would reliably deliver huge sums of money to GOP campaigns and causes, and Republicans would deliver lower taxes on income and capital gains in return. If big companies did not endorse everything the party stood for, they remained mostly silent in service of their bottom line.

But after a brief period of experimenting with big-tent politics during the first and second Bush presidencies, the Republican Party has lurched dramatically rightward since the election of Barack Obama. The GOP narrowed its goals to serve a largely White, largely evangelical and largely nonurban base that is hostile to immigration, science, foreign engagement and anything associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the same time, many big corporate firms have come to see themselves as allies of immigration, science and foreign engagement and have worked to signal their virtues through ads and statements of solidarity following the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

In short, they preferred reality, which is always a wise business decision:

Part of what is going on here is that corporations are protecting their bottom lines as America steams toward the majority-minority tipping point sometime around 2047. The Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will increase by about 24 percent by 2060; adults and their children who are not White will likely account for most of that growth. That multiculti future has already arrived for America’s youngest citizens; White children are now a minority of Americans under the age of 17.

Any company interested in cultivating the multihued, multiethnic, cross-marrying, immigrant consumer of the future would have to think hard about continuing to move in lockstep with a Republican Party that is determined to time-travel back to the 1950s, when white supremacy was thought to be permanent.

America’s real future is more colorful, more vibrant, more diverse than the continuing tableau of overwhelmingly White GOP conventions, fundraisers and leadership summits.

America’s real future isn’t in leadership summits? Don’t tell Donald Trump:

Former president Donald Trump called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a “dumb son of a bitch” as he used a Saturday night speech to Republicans to blame the senator for not helping overturn the 2020 election and reiterated false assertions that he won the November contest.

Trump, speaking at a Republican National Committee gathering at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., excoriated a number of Republicans even as he publicly called for party unity – focusing on those who voted to convict him in impeachment proceedings. But he saved his sharpest vitriol for the Kentucky Republican.

“If that were Schumer instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it,” he said of the election certification on Jan. 6, the day his supporters led an insurrection on the Capitol to block President Biden’s formal victory.

He’s still back there, in those final days:

Trump spent much of the speech, with many senators in the room, lashing into his former ally in personal terms, often to cheers from the party’s top donors. He falsely claimed that he won the Senate election for McConnell in Kentucky and attacked his wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Trump’s transportation secretary.

“I hired his wife. Did he ever say thank you?” Trump said. He then mocked Chao for resigning in response to the Jan. 6 events and Trump’s behavior that day.

“She suffered so greatly,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He later called McConnell a “stone cold loser.” A McConnell spokesman declined to comment.

Why bother? Trump was being Trump:

He did not directly address his 2024 plans – other than to express confidence about the Republican nominee winning – an attendee said, preferring instead to look back at the last election.

He reiterated many of his false claims soon after beginning his remarks and dove into a few particular states in detail, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania, continuing to claim he won their votes and attacking politicians including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R). He spoke for about an hour, according to an attendee, and bragged that he had tossed his prepared and “boring” speech, the attendee said.

“Bullshit,” he said about the election, before polling the room of Republican donors on whether they believed he won.

He also said most Democrats also believe he won but just won’t say so out loud, an attendee said.

But it seems he did poll every Republican in the room. You think I won, don’t you? And you think I won, don’t you? And you over there think I won, don’t you? And you do too, right? And on and on and on, and then he really cut loose:

Trump attacked many of his favorite targets, such as Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease specialist, even mocking Fauci for his first pitch last season at Nationals Park – a frequent Trump taunt. He falsely claimed that Fauci only received credit because he opposed Trump, an attendee said, and joked that Fauci wanted people to wear five masks after not initially supporting their use.

“Have you ever seen anybody that is so full of crap?” he said of Fauci.

The former president also said, without saying who, that someone recently suggested to him that the coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine.” He bragged about his handling of the pandemic, dismissing the widespread criticism of his approach and not mentioning the more than 500,000 who have died of covid-19.

He praised Republicans who have ignored public health concerns about opening and reopening their states, such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Reprising an attack from the day he launched his campaign in 2015, he called immigrants “murderers, rapists and drug dealers.”

He had been right all along! The past was perfect! But being a jerk is a self-limiting factor in any endeavor. Politico reports this:

A slew of well-heeled Republican National Committee donors descended on Palm Beach this weekend, excited to be schmoozed, eager for access to DONALD TRUMP and other potential 2024 nominees, but mostly interested in hearing how far their dollars would go toward winning back the Congress and White House.

Trump’s speech didn’t do any of that.

“It was horrible, it was long and negative,” one attendee with a donor in the room tells Playbook. “It was dour. He didn’t talk about the positive things that his administration has done.”

Instead, Trump used the final night of the retreat to talk about himself, his grievances and how he plans to enact retribution against those who voted to impeach him – which runs counter to the donors’ main objective of making sure their dollars go toward winning overall.

Many major donors have been fed up with Trump’s antics since Jan. 6. While Trump was speaking, we spotted at least two – both of whom received prominent appointments during his administration – out dining with friends at a local restaurant in Palm Beach rather than sitting through the former president’s dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

Yes, being a jerk is self-limiting, which the Politico team puts this way:

Trump has become a complication for donors. They don’t want their money going toward his retribution efforts. Remember: These are exorbitantly wealthy people – some with egos as big as Trump’s – and they are not interested in hearing about how another rich guy had his ego bruised.

They may have to move on. They may have to ask the Republicans an embarrassing question. Who else ya got?

There’s no one else. The “White Lives Matter” weekend was a bust. Corporate America has moved on. And now Trump is demanding retribution. He wants to hurt his enemies. And none of it will matter soon enough. All nonsense is self-limiting. Because it’s nonsense.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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