In case you’re not a political news junkie (or a regular devotee of The Rachel Maddow Show), you might not have heard much about the Trump campaign’s new CEO – not to be confused with his campaign manager, or his campaign adviser, or any of the past 3 or 4 or 50 campaign heads. (There’s probably a really sophomoric joke to be made here about changing heads . . . . but I digress.) At any rate, the supposed real head of the campaign is Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart.com, who has been all over the news lately for a variety of unsavory incidents, ranging from domestic abuse to voter fraud to complaining that he didn’t want his kids to go to a school that had too many Jews. (And no, he wasn’t being ironic.)
You can learn all you need to know about this character by sampling Breitbart’s content, where there are some hair-raising stories with headlines like “Pulse Massacre Means Gays Should Come Home To The GOP” and “How To Make Women Happy: Un-invent the Washing Machine and the Pill”.
However, if you don’t feel like wallowing in racist, misogynist, homophobic, science-denying muck, I’ve done all that research for you. (And so did the Clinton campaign – they released a fabulous ad last week, with actors attempting to read through some of those actual headlines and getting too disgusted to finish a few.) Breitbart is a prime example of what is being called the ‘Alt-Right’ movement, which as one pundit put it, just means homophobic sexist racists who play video games and can generate internet memes.
People refer to politicians using a ‘dog whistle’ as the act of veiling their racism in subtle comments that would only be understood by like-minded audiences. Well, Trump and his followers have replaced the dog whistle with a completely unsubtle bullhorn, and while no candidate can be held responsible for the views of everyone who supports him, the fact that Trump retweets some of these shmucks (and doesn’t immediately disavow them) has given racists (and misogynists and homophobes and anti-Semites and so on) the courage to come out of the shadows, like cockroaches when you turn the lights on.
I’ve seen personal evidence of this in the 4 years I’ve been doing these videos – sure, I’ve always had my share of ugly, mean comments (particularly when I touch on gun control and on reproductive choice), but up until recently they were just ugly and mean. (Initially I was really disturbed and a little frightened, but then I realized that given their spelling & grammar, these commenters posed no threat to anything but the English language.)
However, lately the comments are getting really hostile, using slurs and language that I had never seen – until I started reading Breitbart to research this week’s song. As I said in the song lyric, after doing that research, I definitely wanted to wash my brain out with soap!