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Book Review - 'The Deplorables: America Interrupted '-by 'Q' A Righteous, Passionate, but Uneven Look at Trump and Fascism' - (dm)

"The Deplorables: America Interrupted"-by 'Q'- 'A Righteous, Passionate, but Uneven Look at Trump and Fascism' 

11 August 2021

 

The_Deplorables-by_Q

It has become conventional wisdom among the ignorant everywhere that Hillary Clinton’s condemnation of “half of Trump” supporters as a “basket of deplorables” was the worst gaffe of the 21st Century. The reaction itself validated Clinton’s claim, given that her exprobation damaged her campaign far worse than Donald Trump’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, and garden variety hatred toward Latino immigrants, Muslims, women journalists and politicians, Mexican judges, Black Lives Matter protestors, Black congressmen, disabled newspaper reporters, and prisoners of war.

A forensic review of Clinton’s statement reveals that she was far too kind. A consensus of political science research, conveniently ignored in most discussions of the Trump neo-fascist movement, demonstrates that the majority of Trump supporters believe that Barack Obama was born outside the United States, Black people have criminal predilections, all immigration (legal and illegal) is a detriment to the United States, it is necessary to preserve America’s “white cultural heritage,” same sex relations are “sinful,” Muslims are a threat to American stability, and that white people face worse forms of prejudicial discrimination than Blacks. If there was any doubt that large numbers of Trump supporters harbor racist and anti-democratic beliefs, confirmation is readily available in the fact that they are Trump supporters 

Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky has said that Donald Trump is the “worst malignancy to ever appear in the American political system.” While Chomsky is certainly correct, the far greater threat than Trump, the man, is the movement that Trump has assembled to seize control of the Republican Party, and exert a violent, reactionary, and tyrannical influence over the institutions and practices of democracy. In the 1965 book, The Paranoid Style of American Politics, historian Richard Hofstadter examined polling data to conclude that 15 – 20 percent of the voting public sympathized with Joseph McCarty, and maintained hostile fears toward Blacks, Jews, and liberal activists. The speed with which Trump has consolidated power within the Republican Party, with the aid of Fox News and right wing media, demonstrates that the number has significantly increased. The hateful paranoiacs now constitute slightly under half the voting population (25 – 30 percent of America as a whole). How to restrain people who not only defend and encourage neo-Nazis, but aspire to destroy America’s democratic system is currently the most vexing and troubling political project.

It is also the central subject of a new book, The Deplorables: America Interrupted. The political polemic has many strengths.

First, its author never falls for the trap of right wing commentary and mainstream analysis by breaking out the world’s smallest violin to depict Trump supporters as harmless and misguided proletariats. Similar to the documentation of Republican racism and Nativism, there is overwhelming data indicating that the average Trump supporter is middle to upper class. Furthermore, in 2016, Hillary Clinton won among voters earning under $50,000 per year. Biden won that demographic in 2020 by an even larger margin. Biden also won the $50,000 - $100,000 demographic. The research goes on to demonstrate that support for raising the minimum wage, Medicare for All, and other economic justice measures correlates sharply with Democratic affiliation, not Republican. The author of The Deplorables never even entertains – and good on him for it – that the people chanting “Send Her Back!” and “Build That Wall!” are reincarnations of the Joad family.

The author of The Deplorables does understand, better than most media commentators, that the Trump cult and neo-fascist movement is about the preservation of white power, and the protection of America, according to their bigoted ideology, as a white, Christian and heterosexual nation. Unlike the well-meaning, but dangerous fools who believe Democrats and leftists need only to “reach out” to Trump supporters, the author accurately diagnosis the disease: “This is not a collegial bunch. Like their de facto cult hero, they will respond to your misplaced passivism with a bare knuckles beat down. Left to their own devices, they will tear to ground every vestige of a civilized America. 

As if there were any room for doubt, the attempted coup d’etat of January 6th, and the subsequent assault on the American electoral system, with massive voter suppression laws and the Trump-led attempt for partisan officials to take command of state and county election offices, confirm the harsh, but correct assessment of the author.

Inspection of the pathologies and prejudices of the Trump supporter is where The Deplorables: America Interrupted is most interesting and useful. There is a series of chapters toward the beginning when the author recounts in painful detail his experience posing as a right wing maniac on the Sean Hannity Facebook group, which at the time, had three million members. The essence of his experience is that there is no limit to the idiocy, racism, or fascism in right wing circles. The author describes a barrage of racist posts about Barack Obama, other Black officials, and Black protestors. Hannity fanatics openly call for violence against immigrants and liberals, and express little to no support for honoring the mechanisms of democracy. When the author would test his group cohorts with a brazenly racist screed or deranged conspiracy theory, he would consistently attract a large number of “likes,” approving comments, and reshares 

One of the flaws of cable news commentators is that they appear to spend almost no time among Trump supporters. As a consequence, it is easy for them to fall prey to the delusion that the “deplorables” are misunderstood, or merely down and out working class good ol’ boys in the rust belt and Deep South, who have fallen for Trump’s lies. The author exposes that lie with his own testimony. His Facebook exchanges, as well as his discussions on 4chan and 8chan reveal the hideousness and toxicity of the contemporary right.

The Deplorables: America Interrupted is an interesting and righteously indignant tour of the monstrous Trump base, and how exactly they threaten to transform the United States, a flawed multiracial democracy, into a neo-fascist state. It does have its problems, however.

First, by now it is noticeable that I’ve referred to the author not once by name. The lack of identification is due to the author’s ill advised decision to write the book under the name, “Q.” The reason for this authorship is that the writer began posting to the various Facebook pages and online discussion boards deliberately demented musings about a “Deep State conspiracy” against Trump and Christian America. He speculates, and acknowledges he has no means of proving it, that he is inadvertently responsible for the QAnon cult. In that context, the “Q” penname makes sense, and possesses irony, but the average reader will not understand that context before reading the book, which will render “Q” – an explosively controversial moniker – confusing and repellant.

The anonymity also prevents the author from offering documentation of his exchanges, which would prove crucial to making the book more captivating and persuasive. Similarly, The Deplorables: America Interrupted is far too insulated. There are almost no references to outside research or material. Political scientist Anthony DiMaggio, historian Paul Street, and even conservative journalist Anne Applebaum – to name a few – have scrutinized the danger of the far right in the United States, and have done so with journalistic field work and/or academic research. Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by New Yorker tech journalist, Andrew Marantz, describes the internet creature and movements that the author encountered in explicit detail. Without any outside sourcing or engagement, The Deplorables: America Interrupted often reads like a book-length rant, especially when the author takes unnecessary detours through every gruesome aspect of the Trump presidency. Many of these chapters feel unnecessary, particularly the blow-by-blow recollection of Trump’s attempt to blackmail Ukraine, and the rightful impeachment that followed.

Speaking of which, the prose style is often a problem as well. The author has a great sense of humor, and there were many times that I laughed while reading. For example, he cleverly opens with his family’s horror at finding a photograph of him smiling while holding a copy of Trump’s ghostwritten, The Art of the Deal, from the year of its publication. In other moments, the humor feels tone deaf and weird. Making wise cracks, for example, while reflecting on the threat of mass violence from newly emboldened white supremacists, hits as bizarre, even distasteful. With greater focus and discipline, the book would have avoided certain missteps.

It is unclear if American democracy will survive the right wing assault. The author of The Deplorables: America Interrupted has made a valuable contribution to the democratic-preservation effort.

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 David Masciotra

 

 

David Masciotra (www.davidmasciotra.com) is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 

  

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