The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewTom Engelhardt Archive
John Feffer: Drowning Liberalism in the Bathtub
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

By the time you read this, the latest brouhaha will undoubtedly be history — or do I mean “fake history”? — and largely forgotten. It will have been replaced by an explosion of media coverage about some other nightmarish set of presidential tweets or comments. After all, it’s a pattern. I’m referring to President Trump’s recent retweeting of three videos of purported Islamic mayhem. They came from the Twitter feed of Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of a British ultranationalist group, Britain First, that had previously sparked its own terror incident, the stabbing to death of Labor parliamentarian Jo Cox by a man shouting “Britain First!” In 2016, Fransen herself was convicted of “religiously aggravated harassment” for abusing a Muslim woman in a hijab in front of her children. One of those videos of hers supposedly showed a “Muslim immigrant” in Holland beating up a boy on crutches. (The incident actually happened, but the attacker was neither a Muslim nor an immigrant.)

When criticized by British Prime Minister Theresa May for using the fraudulent materials of such an extremist group, our commander-in-tweet lashed out (initially tweeting the wrong Theresa May) and wouldn’t back down or even remove the videos from his Twitter feed. Fransen, who instantly gained 22,000 new Twitter followers for her fringe positions in England, thanked him fervently. (“God bless you Trump! God bless America!”) Meanwhile social media lit up with Islamophobic sentiments both in the U.S. and Great Britain.

Such events are regularly reported as uncontrollable presidential interruptions of other important events on the Trump agenda — that week, the Republican tax “reform” bill — which only frustrate his chief of staff, flummox his advisers, and generally distract the administration from everything that truly matters. Don’t believe it for a minute. There’s method, however intuitive, in Trump’s madness, in those endless tweetish controversies, in his regular immersion in conspiracies (think: birtherism), implosions that plunge the president and his 43.6 million Twitter followers into a deep, dark world alive with horror and terror, whether of the Muslim or even the football variety.

As TomDispatch regular John Feffer, author of the new book Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams, points out today, the “wild conspiracy theories” that go with this sort of politics have lifted not just Trump, but a whole raft of right-wing authoritarian types to power across Eastern Europe in recent years. This sort of thinking, especially with an Islamophobic edge, has helped drive Trump and a whole set of Trump-like Eastern European leaders to unimagined heights of success and has helped them remain there, too. So don’t expect the president’s outbursts, his Islamophobic tweets, or any of the rest of it to end soon. It rallies the base. It works and he knows it.


As Feffer explains today, those Eastern Europeans learned all of this long before Donald Trump hit the political stage. So what they’ve done and how they’ve lasted is worth taking a moment to contemplate as you consider Donald Trump’s future (and ours). Think of their examples as warnings not to sell him and the method in that madness of his short.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Fake News 
Hide 5 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Issac says:

    What a wonderful title. How unfortunate that it is attached to the genocidal ramblings of a progressive anti-European liberal. I must assume that every self-respecting European is presently rooting for the bathtub.

    • Replies: @gustafus
  2. This is a dishonest article. Feffer puts Trump in this category without any convincing reason. It wasn’t just poor people who wanted a piece of the pie who elected Trump. It was also others who thought he might not be part of the lunatic fringe led by Hillary Clinton. This is nothing but guilt by association. Shame on you .

  3. gustafus says:


    How could anyone with an IQ above room temperature witness the events of the last decades – if not century – and not rethink everything they believe about America, our history, and the criminality of our leadership.

    We aren’t even given an honest choice. Catherine Austin Fitts is a former Bush I undersecretary. She runs the Solari Report.

    I listened to one of her lectures wherein she blithely referred to CONTROL FILES as the single most destructive method of controlling elected officials. She spoke of these files as if they were common knowledge for a fundamental understanding of government.

    She blamed Control Files for everything from Bush II and 9/11 to Session’s withering efforts to thwart a White House Coup.

    There’s just too much money and power at stake to risk Mr. Smith coming to Washington … so candidates are vetted at the local level… and only deviants need apply.

    It used to be vanilla adultery which kept everybody on the donor reservation. That morphed into homosexuality when new depths were necessary to leash laws. Some time in the early 21st century, homosexuality lost its sting … and what do you know? Barney Frank was running an underage boys service out of the House Cloak Room and a Pedophile was speaker of the House.

    If Austin Fitts is right… Hastert was speaker BECAUSE he was a pedophile… not in spite of it.

    Americans have let our government spin out of any semblance of Constitutional Governance. This is now a perverse mob of psychopaths and deviates.

    I wonder each day what the motivation could possibly be for the relentless assault on Donald Trump. Day after day after day … on and on and on… The never Trumpers are singular in purpose and indefatigable in their efforts.

    Detractors don’t notice or care that it’s now a fools errand – that the selective prosecutions and histrionics are those of something far more insidious than Donald Trump.

    John Wayne has come to Washington. With lifts in his boots, and cue cards to help him construct a sentence.

    The Eagle Scouts have landed. It is scaring the bejesus out of more than a few power players.

    No Mr’s Englehart and Jeffers – CONSPIRACIES are the bedrock upon which we live and breath.

    And the mean IQ of Trump supporters exceeds that of the go along, get along GOP AND DNC.

  4. gustafus says:

    Does the author think he will change hearts and minds with that title?

    Fransen was convicted by the same frightened courts who refuse to quantify the crimes of Blacks and Muslims… in an attempt to convince us the problem is racism… not criminality.
    When libs site convictions as evidence of criminality… it won’t wash anymore.

    Lady Justice wears a blindfold – BECAUSE SHE CANNOT BEAR TO WATCH.

  5. Stogumber says:

    What’s the matter with Eastern Europe?
    “Liberal” policies w.r.t. economical change were not good for the average people (read Naomi Klein). In some countries (like Hungary) there was an outspoken collusion between the old Bolshevist elites and their “liberal”, namely capitalist successors. Conservatives made an end to this and normalized the life of the masses who are rightly grateful for that.
    If Feffer and Engelhardt really ignore economy, they must be more dense than could be expected.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Tom Engelhardt Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower