Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

In a recent column on the pending election, I wrote that one needn’t worry about billionaire presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who wouldn’t last.

I was wrong.

I seriously underestimated Trump’s ability to pummel and maim his opponents.

I should’ve known better, for money is the mother’s milk of politics, and while Trump hasn’t been forced to spend his resources, his opponents have been bleeding green.

Trump’s bombast has attracted the brutish spirits of their nature to arise from their growling slumber. Now, presidential rallies are fist-fights and curses – especially when Trump protestors are Black folks.

The ugly image of white-haired retirees pushing and punching young people the age of their grandchildren reveals the roiling racist hatreds that lurk beneath, awaiting activation. Trump, with an easy cruelty, gives permission for these assaults by his minions.

Richard Hofstadter, the brilliant author of the classic The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1952 [2008]), examined the American right-wing, and particularly described what he called “pseudo conservatives” in their ranks.

Hofstadter writes that these ‘new dissenters’ (he is writing in the 1950s) are a threat to true conservatives, explaining:

The new dissent is certainly not radical – there are hardly any radicals of any sort left – nor is it precisely conservative. Unlike most of the liberal dissent of the past, the new dissent not only has no respect for nonconformism, but it is based upon a relentless demand for conformity. It can most accurately be called pseudo-conservative - …because its exponents, although they believe themselves to be conservatives and usually employ the rhetoric or conservatism, show signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions, and institutions. They have little in common with the temperate and compromising spirit of true conservatism in the classical sense of the word, and they are far from pleased with the dominant practical conservatism of the moment as it is represented by the Eisenhower administration. Their political reactions express rather a profound if largely unconscious hatred of our society and its ways – a hatred which one would hesitate to impute to them if one did not have suggestive evidence both from clinical techniques and from their own modes of expression. {pp. 41-42}

Richard Hofstadter’s insights, from a half-century ago, show the moment we now inhabit.

Raw, naked hatreds, exploited for political purposes, to fuel social discontent; to buttress political ambitions of the neo-fascists.

Forces unleashed to sow the seeds of disaster.