About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic



Monday, August 28, 2017

Trump’s mirror to America

How the U.S. president has exposed the hypocrisy of his nation’s media and academia

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump did what he does best: hold a mirror to his country. And the American elite hate the image they see of themselves. So they have been pummeling him using all their powerful institutions of mass propaganda, calling him a white supremacist, a neo-Nazi, and a bigoted SOB – all of which is true.
Yet Trump’s critics are self-righteous hypocrites. For decades, American media and academia have ignored, downplayed, and even pandered to racist politics of dog whistling. Trump has removed this veil and gone “native” by doing openly and crudely what they do with sophistication and subtlety.
America elites on both the right and left have been indulging in self-righteous rage, claiming they are horrified by Trump’s failure to categorically condemn the neo-Nazi thugs who assaulted peaceful protesters. But what is it about what the Nazis stood for and did that is different from what America has always stood for and done? Is it genocide against Jews? What of the genocide against Native Americans? Is it white supremacist ideology? What justified slavery, which became apartheid, and is now mass incarceration?

American elites employ selective memory. Although America went to war against Nazi German, the two nations’ racist policies were similar. Most of Adolf Hitler’s discriminatory laws against Jews were actually borrowed from America.

Hitler was an admirer of the American system, especially its treatment of its native population (whom it had exterminated) and its black population (whom it had enslaved and; during his time, was discriminating against in jobs, loans, residence, marriage, politics and transportation, not to mention lynching on a daily basis).

The Nazis had studied the American legal system against racial minorities. Nearly all their laws against Jews were borrowed from American laws towards blacks.

For example, laws denying Jews the right to vote, the right to join the public service and the professions were common in the American south against black people. And so were the laws prohibiting Jews from marrying Germans or even having sex with them, laws segregating Jews from living in the same neighborhoods as Germans or attending the same schools, sharing restrooms, sitting in the same part of public transportation, etc.

American elite society acts blind to their nation’s inherent characteristics because they have convinced themselves that they are morally righteous. They believe they are a true reflection of the principles of equality, freedom, and liberty enshrined in their constitution.

It is one of the greatest ironies of history that America has an image of what it stands for that is totally the opposite of what it actually is. What helps America navigate its white supremacist and Nazi character is largely the effectiveness of its weapons of mass propaganda.

Its media, publishing houses, film industry, universities, schools, think tanks, music industry, diplomatic service etc. spew an endless amount of hypocritical propaganda that Americans themselves now believe their own lies.

America is not a democracy, has never been a democracy, and is likely never going to be a democracy. It has always been a rich, white, patriarchal state, and will most likely remain so. It may make tactical adjustments to suit particular circumstances.

For instance, it ended slavery but has kept its black population as a racial under caste – in ghettos and jails. It has allowed women’s right to vote but it always treats them as objects of sexual gratification for its rich white male elite.

It elected Barack Obama president but will never give equality to its black citizens and treat them with dignity and respect. It may give some charity to the poor, but it can never give them a voice. It may pretend to tolerate free speech but only as long as that does not threaten this rich white patriarchy.

So why is the American establishment hostile to a president who more than anyone else embodies the American character?
It is because his overt white supremacist bigotry, his open misogyny and his crude neo-Nazism undermine the American self-image. America has so painstakingly cultivated this self-image that most of the world, and Americans themselves, are blind to the gross injustices and inequities of that nation’s society, its politics, and institutions.

I am aware that my claim that Trump is the true embodiment of the American character sounds outlandish to the vast majority of people. Even some of the critics of the American state and its politics would say I am taking this criticism too far.
There are so many white Americans who genuinely believe in racial equality. But let me ask: what explains the mass incarceration of millions of black people? What explains police violence against black people in America where a black male is killed every 28 hours?

What explains Native Americans living in reservations in their own land? These injustices have been sustained and reproduced for decades under Republican and Democratic administrations. What has made this possible if racism was not a defining factor of American society?

The American media, academia, think tanks and all other elite institutions have failed to consistently denounce dog-whistle politics of both the right and the left. This is the reason the injustices of the American state against poor whites, Native Americans, blacks, and other racial and ethnic minorities have survived and thrived.

Had the media and academia employed the same adjectives with which they criticise even minor violations by other governments they call dictatorships, Trump would not have risen. Instead, American journalists and academics have not only kept silent but acquiesced and/or aided their state as it neglected the poor, incarcerated millions of blacks, demonised Muslims and kept Native Americans in reservations.

Trump’s only crime is to say and do openly and crudely what other politicians do with subtlety. These facts are very hard to digest and I do not even think mainstream America media can publish such a brutal critique of themselves, their society, and state.

American leaders, journalists and academics are always eager to make critiques, with the most grotesque adjectives, of poor African and Arab countries and about Russia or China. But they never stingingly attack the evils of their own society and state.

Trump’s crudity has busted this self-righteous bubble. He has exposed the monster of racism American society has been nursing, and which the media have been hiding. American elites hate Trump not just because he is a racist (which he is and most are) rather because he exposes the entrenched racism of the American society and state.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

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