Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why did Donald Trump resurect "Enemy of the People"?

Scriber’s answer? I think Putin fed it to him. Just my opinion. Read on.

Donald Trump escalates conflict with media: ‘They are the enemy of the people’ reports Australian Broadcasting Company (among most other sources).

US President Donald Trump continues to escalate his conflict with the press, declining an invitation to attend the annual White House Correspondents dinner and doubling down on his statement that the mainstream media — and what he claims is its fake news — is the enemy of the American people.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are, they are the enemy of the people,” Mr Trump said.

On Friday major media outlets were excluded from an off-camera press briefing at the White House, prompting calls for a boycott of briefings altogether.

“In a lot of cases it does look like a war. It looks like The Washington Post and The New York Times are directly contradicting the White House over and over,” Vox media writer Carlos Maza said.

“I don’t think that’s because those newsrooms want to be at war with the White House. I think it’s because those newsrooms badly want to tell the truth and describe reality as it is, and we have a White House that has a very strong incentive to describe reality as something else.”

Yesterday Scriber dropped in on an interview by NPR with Nina Khrushcheva, the great granddaughter of Nikita Krushchev. She describes the history of “enemy of the people” as rooted in the Bolshevik revolution and later used by Stalin to consign perceived enemies to the gulags (or to disappearance). She said the term gave her “goose bumps.”

Writing before the inauguration, Krushcheva accurately predicted much of what followed in her December essay on The Manchurian Cabinet. Excerpts follow.

As Trump’s inauguration draws near, Americans must confront three big questions. One, in a sense, is a take on a question that Trump raised about Clinton during the campaign: what happens if the FBI finds evidence of criminal conduct by the president? Or, perhaps more likely in Trump’s case, what happens if the president tries to shut down FBI investigations into his commercial activities involving Russia, or into the actions of cronies like Manafort?

Scriber: how prescient! It’s happening.

The second question, which the US Senate should ask before confirming Tillerson as Secretary of State, concerns the extent of his and ExxonMobil’s financial interests in Russia. The Senate should also probe how closely Tillerson has cooperated with Igor Sechin, the chairman of Rosneft and a notorious ex-KGB operative, particularly in renationalizing much of the Russian oil industry and placing it under Sechin’s personal control. …

Scriber: The Senate, in their rush to judgment, did not ask.

The biggest question of all concerns the American people. Are they really willing to accept a president who denounces men and women who risk their lives to defend the US, and who is equally quick to praise and defend Putin and his cronies when their reckless, even criminal, conduct is exposed?

Scriber: Sadly, the American people, many of them at least, were happy, to the point of almost religious ecstasy, to accept that president. Benjamin Franklin anticipated this disconnect.

The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

And to call the press, the remaining bulwark of our democracy, the “enemy of the people”, is beyond reprehensible. Trump embraces ‘enemy of the people,’ a phrase with a fraught history

MOSCOW — The phrase was too toxic even for Nikita Khrushchev, a war-hardened veteran communist not known for squeamishness. As leader of the Soviet Union, he demanded an end to the use of the term “enemy of the people” because “it eliminated the possibility of any kind of ideological fight.”

“The formula ‘enemy of the people,’ ” Khrushchev told the Soviet Communist Party in a 1956 speech denouncing Stalin’s cult of personality, “was specifically introduced for the purpose of physically annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader.

It is difficult to know if President Trump is aware of the historic resonance of the term, a label generally associated with despotic communist governments rather than democracies.

But his decision to unleash the terminology has left some historians scratching their heads. Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?

Kruschcheva concludes.

At the end of The Manchurian Candidate, another brainwashed character – Frank Sinatra’s Marco – escapes his programming to foil the communist plot. But that was Cold War Hollywood: of course the good guys won. Trump the Movie is unlikely to end so well.

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics and The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, is Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute..

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