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Trump’s Call for Spying on US Muslims Recalls FBI Bugging of MLK, Black Churches


Trump’s Call for Spying on US Muslims Recalls FBI Bugging of MLK, Black Churches

Juan Cole

As Donald Trump supporters beat a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protester at his rally in Birmingham, Ala., Trump himself reminded us of the dark days when a paranoid J. Edgar Hoover had the FBI monitor the Rev. Martin Luther King and black Churches of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


On top of a re-invigorated, and even more xenophobic, surveillance state, 'The Donald', along with Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Carly Fiorina have all spoke in favor of harsh interrogation (i.e. torture).

In her campaign against Barack Obama, I remember Hillary Clinton giving hedged support for instances in which the US should torture detanees:

"I have said that those are very rare, but if they occur there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that. Again, I think the president has to take responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don’t mind if it’s reporting in a top secret context . . .In those instances where we have sufficient basis to believe that there is something imminent, yeah, but then we’ve got to have a check and balance.” (Source: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2006/10/tort-o28.html )


I am no fan, but Trump is giving us a great window through which to view the core of the country--scary as hell as it may be...


For Christ's sake Donald, don't you know your History?
There were probably tens of thousands of Black Muslims in this Country from the very get go- They were called "Slaves"-
They were never any problem until some white dudes started feeling guilty about the ugly truth of it all and A War came about that killed 600,000 soldiers but their lives have NOT really changed that much for the better because of bigots like YOU Donald-


I agree. One good thing about Trump is he is saying overtly what the fascist, core of this country has become. Yes, scary as hell!


With the candidacy of the noxious Donald Trump, white nationalism in the United States enters the final phases of the endgame. As pointed out by historians like Alexander Saxton and David Roediger (after the pioneering work by W.E.B. Du Bois), white nationalism arose in Jacksonian America as a racial formation based in class compromise, whereby the ruling elites made common cause with the white laboring classes to establish a racial republic. The price of the "white republic" was the exclusion of Americans of color from the claims of citizenship, and this would especially apply to the despised "negro race," the "helots" and "mudsills" of American society. It wasn't until the early 1960's, that the white republic finally gave way to the reality of a multi-racial society. The Voting Rights Act removed "race" as a criterion for membership in civil society. But white nationalism lived on in custom, and in social practices, like schooling, housing, employment and so on.

The 1960's also bore witness to a momentous change in American immigration law. For the first time in American history, access to the "promised land" would not be restricted largely to those of "European descent." The new immigration, especially from Asia and Latin America, has changed the United States forever. It's clear that never again will it be possible to speak of the USA as a "white man's country."

There are plenty of so-called "white Americans" who are angry and disoriented at the collapse of white nationhood. These are the people who are flocking to the loathsome Donald Trump.

There used to be talk of the "Negro problem" or the "Indian problem" or the "Chinese problem." But the real problem of US history and culture, and it still exists for all that it is rarely named, is the "White problem." White people are the problem. By "white people" I mean those people who think that they are "white"--meaning they think they are superior, entitled, heroic, enviable. People who believe this mythology (and there are millions of them in the United States) have been content to use "whiteness" as their way of being in the world, even though it has served them ill in so many respects. It has made so many of them alienated, fearful, paranoid. It has cut them off from other human beings who have different skin tones. It has even cut them off from their better selves. A white American racist spouting off about "the blacks" or "the Mexicans" is not a pretty sight, and in a better world such people would be ashamed to see themselves in the mirror.

Du Bois pointed out that the white working class in the United States has settled for the psychological "wage of whiteness" rather than make common cause with their fellow laborers who are people of color. American elites have always been ready to serve up racism, on the old ruling class theory that a divided people is a conquered people. Today, the conquest of the American working class is almost complete. But the people are restive and angry. They want answers. They want solutions. Some of them think that a scapegoat is the answer and the solution. Donald Trump plays to these people.

Trump is so very American. A philistine businessman who embraces a pseudo-populism, infused with racism, xenophobia and violent fantasies. One part of the American mind is psychotic, so Trump's theatrics find a willing and loving audience. The psychosis is clearly visible in the Republican Party, which is wedded to war, empire and the corporations, but serves up faux "outrages" such as gay marriage, illegal immigration and "totalitarian" gun control to placate the plebian hordes (conceived of as "white"). It is a real political conundrum that the Republican Party (completely committed to elitism) has managed to win the allegiance of so many working class people who have everything to lose, and nothing to gain, from the party's retrograde policies. Here we see the real tragedy of the white racial formation: not only has it been responsible for the oppression of African Americans and other people of color, it's also played a devastating role in ensuring the oppression of nearly ALL Americans, who aren't part of the 1-5% who lavishly benefit from our evil, insane political economy of profits before everything else.

Donald Trump is quintessentially American, but in many respects he reminds me of the Italian magnate Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi is another pompous blowhard, a monied egomaniac, lacking decency, intelligence and character. Berlusconi also plays the populist tune, embracing anti-immigrant racism and flirting with the far right Lega Nord, a nationalist outfit of thugs and demagogues. It's easy to see that Berlusconi is a type of neo-fascist. The same can be said of Trump, although Americans (subject to endless patriotic brainwashing) are not accustomed to think of fascism as an active force in their politics.

The racism of Trump and his supporters should not be confused with the old-time American racism of the Ku Klux Klan. Klan terrorism was mostly about "keeping the blacks in their place." It wasn't exterminationist or even necessarily exclusivist, for all that it was segregationist. The Klan would occasionally talk about "sending the blacks back to Africa," but their chief desire was to keep African Americans "in line" in Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, etc, etc. The racism of the Trumpers is different in character and has different goals. The Trumpers are angrily aware that the light is dying for "White America" and they want to do something about it, while there is still time. Some of these people would like nothing more than to drop a nuclear bomb on Harlem and send every "Mexican" packing at the point of a gun. Trump is alive to what they are feeling, so he throws them the raw meat just the way they like it. Notice that Trump makes no apologies for outright racism towards minorities.

The Trumpers are a relatively small constituency within the American "white" nation. But they are a dangerous group of people. Among them are some scary American types--who are ready and willing to commit murder and mayhem. If you think I'm exaggerating, you have not paid close enough attention to the contours of American history....


Another ridiculous generalization.

Instead of putting the spotlight where it belongs--on the institutional powers that foment racism, ethno-centricism, and hatred of other--you assert that a particular dark-hearted demographic defines the nation itself.

All societies have their share of natural-born authoritarians.

Such persons like order and are uncomfortable with any threat to it. That's why they see anyone outside of their familiar group (race, class, color) as a threat.

However, every society also has many persons who not only are tolerant of other; they seek it out. Such individuals spend time in ethnic neighborhoods, eat ethnic food, socialize and marry outside of their familial group.

These absolutely TIRING and anything but academic generalizations meant to tar and feather all persons due to the lack of moral clarity in some... are so frequently posited on this site as to lend credence to my assertion that they fit into specific Talking Points.

What these Talking Points hold in common is a deliberate attempt to take the focus off of the powers that fuel fascism and instead project causality onto the fools who follow. Typically, they are angry, disaffected white males.

That group does not include Blacks, most women, Hispanics, etc.

In other words, you are speaking for yourself and insisting that what is true for white males defines all others. If that isn't the false conclusion that's led the world to its current abyss of militarism and ecocide, what is?


Before I begin reading, I wish to thank you for breaking your thoughtful, nuanced work into paragraphs.

Now... let the analysis begin.

Your scholarship on the White American is laudatory but like so much of academia, it entirely leaves out the role of gender.

I know now and again you toss the word into a 400-word essay as if granting it mere lip service will suffice.

RACE and racism came after the ranking system that gave males primacy over females.

And it's that bifurcated primacy of the male gender that has normalized things like competition, domination, control, father-knows-best systems of governance, and societal hierarchies.

Race is important, of course. But until the rudiments of inequality are examined at their base--which is to say root, in gender--the unequal treatment of persons of color will never be understood.

You lump women together with men under the category of White citizen; and while Caucasians do have advantages within societies that evolved out of European culture... so many of the women you gloss over are controlled by their fathers, husbands, and boyfriends.

This control was more evident when women could not own property, determine their marriage partners, or vote.

Nonetheless, many women obey their husbands or fear them and that fact is quite prevalent in Fundamentalist homes. The man's opinion speaks for both.

Until there is a true understanding in place that properly explains what "the culture of dominant white males" has meant to the historical evolution of the modern world, the problem of racism cannot disappear.

Militarism and racism and sexism are all connected.

It's amazing the extent to which educated people will wax on about racism, and occasionally militarism, and of course capitalism while leaving the gender item out of the calculus altogether.

You do this often. It's like explaining one wall inside a large room.

Trump is also very sexist.

Fascists typically identify with an image of the tough super-male. This was as strong an icon to the Nazi as it is to many within the KKK and NRA. There is NO tolerance for anything feminine--like feelings, compassion, in particular; and thus understanding that in the annihilation of all things feminine, the masculine all-potent signature of not just white, but masculine supremacy is asserted.

The connection is VERY important. And there is quite a lot also written on THIS subject.


What makes you so sure that this country has a fascist core, or that this alleged core constitutes any majority?

For someone who rails--as I do--against the CIA, the coup that took JFK, and the B.S. that still mythologizes the actual events of 911--it's odd that you'd demonize fellow citizens in this way.

One angle of analysis might take a look at the vast number of individuals--some of color and a small percentage female--yet mostly white males who are in some kind of martial uniform.

Homeland Security
Transportation Security (airlines)
Sheriff departments
Police departments
Private mercenaries/militias
Border Patrol
Coast Guard
Prison Guards

Add to it, those who work in any government-run departments along with Defense Plants.

I think the number would be into the millions.

Then add in the NRA and the white racists who can't seem to recognize that it's global elites shaping the politics of (financially-implosion) resentment... and it's not the uppity Feminist, Muslim, Hispanic "guest worker," or other working person who is responsible for the policies that spread so much despair.

My point is that as you know, people often form opinions based on what their paychecks allow.

With so many institutionally tied to a UNIFORMED institution, many of which identify with guns, aggression, use of force, and violence... these individuals would have a natural affinity for fascism.

Left out of this demographic and likely the MAJORITY of the nation--which explains why polls show that majorities favor Progressive policies and positions--are people who just want a bit of privacy, work that pays their bills and doesn't kill their souls, the rent or mortgage paid, and food on the table.

The more often frames are used that conflate natural-born fascists with the whole citizenry, the more a legitimizing of Fascism is offered. Is that what you are arguing for?


Have you seen the historic photographs of crowds gathered around an immolated body at a lynching? Most often the people in the crowd are festive: there are families there--mothers, children, grandparents, the whole cast of characters. People look like they are having a good time. No one seems particularly disturbed at the spectacle of a burnt corpse. The victim was an African- American man, typically accused of rape, but usually murdered because of his failure to observe the protocols of white supremacy. Everyone in the crowd is "white."

I am asking you to consider the American theater of a lynching because in the crowd were men, women and children, and the common denominator was that they were all "white." Does this mean that age and gender have no significance in the character of a lynch mob? Obviously not. But one focuses on the dominant force, or if you like, the shared identity, among lynch mob members and one will find not masculinity or femininity as such, but "whiteness."

You say: "RACE AND RACISM came after the ranking system that gave males primacy over females." Agreed. But to say that tells us nothing about the specificity of racism as a form of oppression. If we must resolve everything back into gender oppression (which is real and lasting), then we end up saying that no other form of oppression is as real as the enslavement and domination of "women." I have mentioned to you before that I find your sense of "woman" to be far too sweeping. Was a female slave owner oppressed by "the patriarchy" in the same way as a female slave? Was a middle class white woman committed to Jim Crow less free than an African American sharecropper? It is you, and not me, who is in want of nuance and specificity. I think your insistence on gender as THE hierarchical relationship above all others makes it difficult to see that domination, exploitation and oppression come in many forms, all of which do horrendous damage to the human psyche.

I am not interested in which form of oppression is "fundamental." I hate all of them, and wish to see them all done away with. When you say "race is important, of course," you leave the impression that it is less important than gender. Who wants to argue in this way? Why must we attack people who are basically on our side because they don't say exactly what we want them to say? How is the Left ever going to build a revolutionary culture when we are harshly and unproductively censorious of those who stand with us?

"Militarism and racism and sexism are all connected." Amen. But not every critique of the military-industrial complex must run through the theory of sexual and racial oppression. Noam Chomsky has written powerfully on the evils of US Empire, but he rarely addresses gender issues. I don't consider this a fatal flaw in Chomsky's work. As great an intellectual he is, Chomsky can't to do everything. He does what he can. Let someone else take up the task of explaining the real links between empire and male supremacy. There is enough to say about this world that an intellectual division of labor is only natural. You don't imagine that Chomsky does not see the connection between militarism and masculinity or that he does not think it important? He has simply made it his mission to say other (valuable) things about the American Empire.

Now I am not comparing myself to Noam Chomsky. I am only saying that people can't always say everything that needs to be said. They say what they have to say at a given moment, and often they are aware that they could say more, but they say it anyway. I have told you before I find your willingness to attribute fault and sin in omission (of gender) an ungenerous way of approaching someone who shares a discourse community with you. I won't say anything more personal than that because I only know you as a "voice" in cyberspace.

"Trump is also vey sexist." Absolutely! And I agree with you that sexual politics are central to fascist psychology. But the subject of my post was racism as a central factor in Trump's apotheosis. Maybe the next time a piece on Trump appears in CD, I will have the occasion to share my thoughts on Trump's gender politics.

I want to make clear: I don't object to being criticized on the issues, but I do object to your insinuation that a failure to say a certain thing is a deplorable personal limitation...


You are right. I only mentioned the Republican Party because today they are the "white" party, the party of white nationalism and white supremacy. As you know, yesterday it was the Democratic Party that had that character. In fact, there are still currents of "white nationhood" in the Democratic Party, but they are not so pronounced as in the GOP. I didn't mean to give the impression that only the Republican Party is responsible for white racism. That is demonstrably untrue, and what you say about the unions is tragically true. As for white liberals in gated communities, I agree with you. I know some "white liberals" who are all for "diversity" and "muliticulturalism," but they would never live in a community with a large population of people of color, especially if that community was impoverished. But this only makes my point: the "white liberals" are more "white" than liberal, only they don't know that!


The sad thing is that you don't even recognize your closet misogyny. As if rendering half the population invisible (or taking as evidence of agreement, centuries of patriarchal conditioning and control) is the mark of anything but your own deplorable limitation.

The old crowd is back here probably due to the coming election. It's full of persons who, if they aren't soldiers or card-carrying christian fundamentalists sound JUST like them.


I agree with most of your diatribe, but perhaps I did not make myself clear? When I said core of this country, I should have made it clear that what I meant was the core of Trumps supporters in this country. Thanks for the correction.


My "closet misogyny"? Really?? So you are not only a professional astrologer, who reads the stars; you are also an expert psychoanalyst, who can read the psyches of people that you don't not know and whom you've never met!

I have noticed with you that when you are unable to engage an argument, you resort to petty insult...


Anyone remember Senator Joseph McCarthy?
"Hey Joe, who's the Red party now?"