Trump’s Twitter feed is offensive so frequently that it’s tempting to let oneself get inured to the horrors, to ignore as white noise his 140-character offerings.
But his retweets of Britain First videos about the purported perils of Islam, and of Muslim migration to the West, was so offensive, even by Trump’s morally debased, cretinous standards, that they merit a serious response.
Trump retweeted three video clips, titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!,” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” In fact, the first depicts the actions not of a migrant but of a person born in Holland, and the other two, depicting events in Syria and Egypt, are not explained in context. Regardless of the veracity of the imagery, the use to which it is being put by Britain First and now by Trump is truly vile, as the actions of depraved individuals or gangs are used by a fascist movement to deliberately tar hundreds of millions of people who have nothing to do with such crimes and would never tolerate them.
Imagine, for a moment, the unanimous outcry if Trump were to tweet, “Christian man shoots hundreds of festival goers in Las Vegas!” or “Christian mob goes on drunken rampage after Euro-cup football game!” or “Armed Christian mobs demonstrate outside mosques in Texas while other Christians firebomb Islamic centers!” He would, rightly, be condemned for tarring a whole religion with the heinous acts of a few twisted people.
That Trump was looking at a fascist Twitter feed is horrifying enough—though not at all surprising, given that he has previously paraphrased Hitler in a public speech and during the election campaign tweeted out Mussolini quotes. But that he then felt compelled to add the imprimatur of presidential authority to such vicious propaganda is unfathomable. As unfathomable as it would be if, say, Franklin Roosevelt used one of his fireside chats to broadcast the views of Julius Streicher, the monstrous but highly effective anti-Semitic propagandist in Nazi Germany.
Trump’s Twitter endorsement of Britain First’s propaganda is every bit as scurrilous. There’s nothing “mainstream” about Britain First, or about figures like Jayda Fransen, the woman who serves as deputy leader of the group and whose tweets Trump was so taken by during his early-morning online perambulations. They are, and always have been, deeply fascist in inclination and in action.