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Donald Trump is making Ann Coulter irrelevant: Why the rise of American fascism has rendered far-right pundits obsolete

When the GOP frontrunner is spewing bile this poisonous, what's an old-school hate monger supposed to do?


Heather Digby Parton
December 10, 2015 10:48PM (UTC)

When you've got an extremist candidate like Donald Trump running at the top of the polls and turning fever swamp ideology mainstream, where does it leave talk radio and the far right? They can't keep their audience if they don't push the envelope and with Trump out there endorsing torture, deportation, and banning all Muslims from coming into the country, it doesn't leave much for a wing-nut to say. But that doesn't mean a right wing zealot can't use his or her imagination.

Trump may be promising to round up undocumented immigrants and deport them "Operation Wetback" style, but will that really solve the problem he seeks to solve? Ann Coulter doesn't think so. Sure, she's thrilled that Trump is promising to deny entry to the U.S. to all Muslims. That goes without saying. In fact, she considered it a perfect birthday present:

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But even the proposal by the far-right hate group VDARE didn't go quite far enough:

Coulter is taking a slightly different tack than most right wingers on this subject. She's arguing for a complete ban on all immigration from everywhere. And she's using a typically offensive but clever rationalization to do it:

As I went to press with this column, the San Bernardino shooters were unknown, but I had a pretty good inkling they weren’t white men. Days earlier, in response to Robert Dear Jr.'s murder of three people at a Colorado Springs shopping mall last week, The New York Times exulted:

"Even as politicians and those in Congress pump up public fears at the supposed threat of refugees fleeing Syria, every day in America people -- mostly white men -- are walking into movie theaters, restaurants, churches, grade schools and health care centers armed to the teeth, determined to take as many people out as they can."

Mostly white men???

I know it didn't happen here, but is the Times really going to ignore the murder of 130 people in Paris two weeks ago?

Here at home, an Oregon Community College was shot up in October -- by a mixed-race, half-black immigrant, Chris Harper-Mercer. Nine people were killed. It's hard to remember every sensational crime, but that was just two months ago.

Last year, another mixed-race immigrant, Elliot Rodger, committed mass murder at a sunny college campus in Santa Barbara, killing twice as many people as Robert Dear did -- in half the time! That seemed like a pretty big story to me, but the media passed over it pretty quickly. The Times has airbrushed it from history.

In 2013, two Chechen immigrants -- also allegedly fleeing persecution -- blew up the Boston Marathon.

In 2012, Haitian immigrant Kesler Dufrene murdered as many people in Miami as Robert Dear did in Colorado Springs. One of Dufrene's victims was a 15-year-old girl. Dufrene had already been convicted of a felony in the United States, so he should have been deported, but our "Deporter in Chief" Obama had blocked his return to Haiti. As the murdered girl's mother said, "Because of immigration, my daughter is not alive."

Have you ever heard of Dufrene? I don't think his murders got as much press as the "Planned Parenthood" shooting.

I'm sure you've heard of Jared Loughner. But have you ever heard of Eduardo Sencion?

In 2011, nine months after Loughner's shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, Sencion, a Mexican immigrant, shot up a Carson City, Nevada, IHOP, killing four Americans, including three National Guardsmen and a 67-year old woman.

Eduardo was a Mexican immigrant. The Times ran two stories on his mass murder -- on Pages 17 and 18. By contrast, Loughner's shooting got dozens of write-ups in the Times, including at least three front-page articles, three editorials and 10 op-eds.

The media are tickled pink whenever they have a white perpetrator because it happens so rarely in a country that is majority white.

She does have a lively mind, you have to admit.  Trump hasn't managed to put his Muslim and Mexican bashing together so neatly, but it's not hard to imagine him making Coulter's case down the road. After all, the "illegals are all rapists" argument was lifted directly from her book, "Adios America."

But credit where credit is due: At least Coulter doesn't engage in the lugubrious whining of Rush Limbaugh, who somehow managed to turn San Bernardino into an attack on conservatives. It's a very laborious (and embarrassing) argument, but the gist of it is that it's all unfair because the "drive-by" media is trying to understand why the children of immigrants would become Islamic terrorists, but they are always mean to Republicans and never try to understand them.

I know it makes little sense, but then Rush is having a lot of trouble trying to keep his rabid Trump loving audience appeased without totally destroying his chances of getting invited to all the good Republican billionaire's parties. So he dropped in some Trumpish conspiracy mongering, hinting that the Farook family was in on the plot but then brought the topic back to his favorite trope, "poor, poor pitiful me":

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Really, Politico? You really want to try to make this case? They tried after the Planned Parenthood shoot 'em up. "Oh, yeah! These right-wingers are out there shooting at Planned Parenthood all the time!" Except the real stats are militant Islam, extremist Islam has killed more Americans than anybody has committed attacks on Planned Parenthoods in this country. "Americans pride themselves, justifiably, on doing a better job of assimilating their Muslim immigrants than European nations typically do. Although there are concentrations of Muslim immigrants in major cities, such as Dearborn[istan], Michigan, the Muslim communities in America are mobile and an integral part of America's major cities and their suburbs."

See? You see, folks? I guarantee you, this nation is at risk and imperiled by a bunch of crazed white Christians. And if you were a Martian and just happened to land here and turned to the news today, this is what you would think.

Yes, it's hard out here for a right-wing radio host these days. When politicians stop dog whistling, as Trump has, people like Limbaugh have very little left to differentiate themselves. In some important respects, Trump has made their jobs superfluous.

Coulter, however, can take some satisfaction in the fact that one of her pet themes has actually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As much as she is a political performance artist, always testing the boundaries of decency, she does have an explicitly political agenda in her book "Adios America." One of her primary arguments in it is that Democrats are in favor of "open borders" and "amnesty" because they think they can turn immigrants into reliable Democratic voters. Much of her hostility toward Latinos (aside from her usual malevolent bigotry) is based on the fact that Democrats are on the road to a permanent majority as the country becomes less white. Republicans have been wrestling with this problem for some time but Coulter is among the few to suggest that rather than find a way to appeal to people of color, the Republican Party should do everything they can to turn that demographic change around. Hence her lovely argument that most mass killers are of mixed race or immigrant background and her desire that the country limit all immigration. She wants to take legal measures to ensure that white people remain in the majority.

And there are plenty of people who agree with her, first and foremost those who have been working feverishly to suppress the vote of racial and ethnic minorities. That's one of the reactionaries' oldest tricks. But this week the Supreme Court heard a case called Evenwell vs Abbot which challenges the idea that congressional representation should be based upon the 14th Amendment's plain language that says states are allocated House seats by “counting the whole number of persons in each state". They hold that it should actually mean "counting the whole number of eligible voters in each state." In other words, kids, non-citizens, prisoners and disenfranchised former felons should not have representation.

The upshot of this is obvious as Ian Millhiser explains:

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Evenwel is the godchild of Edward Blum, a conservative activist who has also spearheaded challenges to affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. Like other cases shepherded by Blum, Evenwel also has a racial angle. Texas, in particular, has large number of non-citizen Latino residents. If Consovoy and Blum’s case prevails, these residents will no longer be counted when the state draws legislative districts. They will, however, still be counted when congressional seats are allocated to Texas. The result will be an effective shift in power from Latino voters to white voters.

How convenient. So while it's certainly true that Trump, Coulter, Limbaugh, et al., are appealing to (and feeding from) the baser instincts of the white reactionary base of the GOP, there are people working hard to ensure that the white majority does not lose its political dominance any time soon. Banning and deporting immigrants may not on the surface seem like strategic political moves beyond the next election but there is an underlying political logic to it. Ironically, if they spent half as much energy welcoming people and encouraging them to become part of American society instead of treating them like pariahs, they could eventually persuade many of them over to their side. That's always been the pattern in the past. But they seem to be so frightened of losing the white majority that they simply cannot be practical. If one didn't know better, one might think their racism and xenophobia is making them blind to the easier path.

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Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

MORE FROM Heather Digby Parton

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