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Reich writes: "Demagogues rarely commit violence directly. Instead, they use blame, ridicule, fear and hate – and then leave the violence to others. That way, they can always claim 'it wasn’t me. I don’t have blood on my hands.'"

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Hate Unbound

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Website

31 October 18


emagogues rarely commit violence directly. Instead, they use blame, ridicule, fear and hate – and then leave the violence to others. That way, they can always claim “it wasn’t me. I don’t have blood on my hands.”

Of the tens of millions of Americans that the Trump-Fox News regime has made fearful, only a small percentage – say, a hundred thousand – have been moved to hate the objects of that fear.

And of those hundred thousand, only a relative handful – say, a few thousand – have been motivated to act on that hate, posting loathsome messages online, sending death threats, spray-painting swastikas.

And of that few thousand, a tiny subset, perhaps no more than a hundred or so, have been moved to violence.

But make no mistake: This lineage of cause and effect begins with Trump and his Fox News propaganda machine.

Politicians and media moguls have long understood that fear and hate sell better than hope and compassion, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise. But before Trump, no president had based his office on it. And before Fox News, no major media outlet had based its ratings on it.

Ronald Reagan stoked racism by bashing “welfare queens” and George W. Bush by airing campaign ads featuring “Willie Horton,” but fear and hate weren’t the centerpieces of either presidency.

The two political operatives behind these campaigns bear mention, though: Lee Atwater, who had also been chairman of the Republican National Committee and a senior partner at the political consulting firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (yes, that Manafort and that Stone); and Roger Ailes, who went on to create and run Fox News.

Atwater and Ailes premised their careers on fear and hate. Ailes’s Fox News monetized fear and hate through phantom menaces like a “terror mosque” near Ground Zero, Barack Obama’s alleged connections to black nationalists and Muslims, and Sarah Palin’s fictitious “death panels.”

Trump took Atwater and Ailes to their logical extremes – building a political base by suggesting Obama wasn’t born in America; launching his presidential campaign by warning of “criminals” and “rapists” streaming across the Mexican border; and ending his campaign with an ad suggesting that prominent Jews — billionaire philanthropist George Soros, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen — were in league with Hillary Clinton to control the world.

Since taking office, Trump has ramped up fear and hatred – towards immigrants, journalists, black athletes who won’t stand for the anthem, major media, and prominent Democrats.

In recent weeks he suggested that criminals and terrorists from the Middle East had joined a caravan of immigrants heading toward the border, and even floated a conspiracy theory that Soros helped fund the caravan.

Fox News has magnified the fear and hate exactly as its founder would have wanted. A guest on Lou Dobbs’ show claimed the caravan was being funded by the “Soros-occupied State Department.”

That same week, Soros was among the targets of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and members of the media. A Florida man who identifies himself as a Trump supporter was arrested in connection with the attempted bombings.

Hours before a gunman entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed eleven worshipers, he reportedly wrote that a Jewish organization for refugees “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Bombs mailed to political leaders. Threats against the media. A shooting in a place of worship. None were directly ordered by Trump or his propaganda affiliate. They didn’t have to be.

Trump’s demagoguery inspired it. Fox News magnified it.

The hatefulness is unconstrained. Having fired the few “adults” in his Cabinet, Trump is now loose in the White House, except for a few advisors who reportedly are trying to protect the nation from him.

House and Senate Republicans are not holding him back. To the contrary, they have morphed into his sycophants. An increasing number are sounding just like him.

Atwater and Ailes are gone from this world, but their descendants – Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Bill Shine, formerly Roger Ailes’s deputy – have direct pipelines to Trump (Shine is now formally installed in the West Wing).

The upcoming election is not really a choice between Republicans and Democrats. Those traditional labels have lost most of their meaning, if not much of their value.  

It is really a choice about the moral compass of America.

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A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+19 # chrisconno 2018-10-31 10:28
Yes. Trump doesn't need the traditional sleeper cells. The NRA has armed them and Trump just has to spew forth his hate and Fox news repeats it endlessly and the sleeper cells are awakened. It is frightening to know that if the Democrats when the House or the Senate some of those sleeper cells will activate against all those who might not agree with the way they think a democratic election works. How many AR-15s are there in the US?
+11 # Harvard72 2018-10-31 10:44
Wasn't the Senior Bush who used Willie Horton, and not George W Junior?
+18 # tedrey 2018-10-31 11:18
All true. I wouldn't forget, however, that hate and fear against reputed *foreign* enemies is far more openly employed by U.S. governments as a motivation for violence. Russia, China, and Iran, Muslims and "Communists* are always there to energise our worst impulses. We all should remember that if we are not resolute to prevent it, this tool will still be used by the American regimes that follow Trump, of whatever party.
+16 # tsyganka 2018-10-31 12:01
Article sez: "Bombs mailed to political leaders. Threats against the media. A shooting in a place of worship. None were directly ordered by Trump or his propaganda affiliate."

I disagree. Guests on John Fredericks Radio Network (JFR) have included Trump, his family, members of his administration, and other Trump fanboys/fangirl s. Trump has financially supported JFR and given it other perks.

JFR also features Michael Scheuer as a guest and substitute host. Scheuer has a kill list with specific names on it, names that include the pipe bomb recipients. He's openly said that it's time for Trump supporters to kill Trump opponents.

Exclusive: Trump-endorsed radio show has promoted ex-CIA agents' call for right-wing rebellion

Former senior CIA official says it's "quite near time" for Trump supporters to kill Trump opponents
+11 # relegn 2018-11-01 06:47
It is really a choice between democracy and fascism.
+8 # logical1 2018-11-01 09:35
I have not heard of JFR but that is incredible if true that Trump has endorsed it.
THANK YOU Robert Reich for seeing clearly and looking back at the predecessors of the hate fear tactics and how they formed and morphed into what is now happening. It is amazing that intelligent people can get pulled in by trappings of the few who rile the gullible and get them to donate and listen to their nasty rhetoric. The bigger problem is they are getting more covert and becoming more mainstream. If this congress is not flipped we will become an oligarchy run by huge sums of dark money from phony non-profit corporate "people."
+8 # tsyganka 2018-11-01 13:29
For clarification: Trump has not said that he endorses the kill list per se. He has endorsed JFR by being a guest, by giving it money, and by making it the only media allowed to broadcast live from the 'war room' on end-election night 2016. I.e., he endorses JFR, which endorses Scheuer, who endorses the kill list.

Despite its ties to the Trump campaign in Virginia and despite its syndication, JFR has remained relatively off-radar. And no wonder - it features a guest with a kill list, not something to advertise until Fredericks is sure of an imminent fascist takeover.

Besides reading the links I gave, please also read the internal links in the two articles for further information.

One wonders - but not too much, given their corporate ownership - why MSM hasn't said much about this.

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