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Trump, Charlottesville and the Establishment's Degradation Ceremony

by Andrew Elliott – 3 Sep 2017

Statue of Lee by Leo Lentilli located in Charlottesville, Virginia photo by Einar Einarsson Kvaran, en:Robert E Lee

The shrill hysteria of the mainstream media’s Trump Derangement Syndrome has gone into overdrive in the last few weeks since the events of Charlottesville and the reaction to President Trump’s reaction to it.

The resulting hysteria has been far in excess of even the already high level of hysteria about Trump that was in place. What can explain this?

In my view its all to do with the phenomenon of the “Degradation Ceremony”. Last October journalist Dana Milbank wrote the following in the Washington Post about what he felt was the need for candidate Trump to not simply be defeated but to be defeated in a landslide.

The need to deal Trump a humiliating defeat has a sociological basis in the “degradation ceremony,” in which the perpetrator (Trump) is held by denouncers (officeholders and others in positions of influence) to be morally unacceptable, and witnesses (the public) agree that the perpetrator is no longer held in good standing.

Read the full article here:

Trump can’t just be defeated. He must be humiliated.

A scholarly description of the pattern of the “Degradation Ceremony” can be found here:

Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies

We are all very familiar with examples of this. Some individual will be declared by the mainstream media and establishment figures to be a very bad person. A deluge of denunciations will be made and the message sent across that the person is no longer to be associated with or defended by right thinking people. I’ve written about the recent case of Milo Yiannopoulos here. What is notable about Donald Trump is that he is someone who has successfully and repeatedly defied such “degradation ceremonies”. Establishment media and political figures would declare “he’s gone too far this time, this is the end of Trump” and yet he continued and went on to win the election. This has been continually repeated since the election.

However this time the reaction seems more intense. Below is a montage of denunciations from the Morning Joe show:

A montage of denunciations from the Morning Joe show

The above is typical – other media and political figures have said much the same:

The Majority Report with Sam Seder

Here is the resignation letter of the members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities:

Resignation Letter of the members of the PCAH

Now notice the way that the message of “this person is no longer to be held in good standing, right thinking people must no longer have anything to do with him” is now made explicit. Rather than just implying it Morning Joe and the others come right out and say ‘If you associate with this person from this day forward you will be forever tainted’ just in case the message wasn’t clear to anyone.

In my view this is happening because Trump has done something that he didn’t do before. Before he simply said and did things that the establishment considered out of bounds and their mouthpieces would then attempt to perform the ‘degradation ceremony’ on him. Now he has gone beyond that and attacked the very basis of their degradation ceremony rituals. It is that which is so shocking for them.

In our Western society the very worst thing that a person can be called is a ‘racist’ or a Nazi. Amongst ‘right thinking’ people it is no exaggeration to say that this is considered a more unforgivable charge than that of being a murderer or a child molester. To declare someone to be a ‘neoNazi’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is to perform the Degradation Ceremony against them and to declare that all good people must disassociate from them. To be far left by contrast is considered well within the range of what is acceptable.

By referring to the far left crowd as ‘Alt Left’ and declaring that they had a share of blame for the violence Trump was challenging the basis of the boundaries for the degradation ceremony. The assumption that white supremacists etc are equally entitled to the protection of the law was challenging enough, but the use of the term ‘Alt Left’ equates a label that describes people within the right thinking crowd’s ‘good standing’ boundaries with a label used to mark those outside it. Thus he makes explicit the challenge to the placing of those boundaries.

But the very worst thing that the President did from this perspective was declaring that in the crowd, along with the neoNazis and the KKK, were some “very good people”. Trump was here attacking the very basis of the ceremony itself, not just its boundaries. The basis of the ceremony is that “When a person is described by label x no right thinking, right acting person can associate with him, merely associating with such a person even, by sharing a platform with them for example, is a wrong thinking wrong acting thing to do”. Trump was declaring that such an association was possible.

That is why it wasn’t enough that he repeatedly denounced racism, the KKK etc and declared them to be evil and unacceptable. There are plenty of things that ‘right thinking’ people consider to be evil and unacceptable, all the way up to terrorist murder, but which they wouldn’t think renders any person tangentially associated with them automatically also evil and unacceptable. By saying that there were some “very good people” in the pro-Statue crowd in Charlotteville President Trump was implying that whilst neoNazis, racists etc were in the evil and unacceptable category, others in the demonstration were not to be automatically relegated to that category merely by being in the same demonstration.

This was an attack on the most fundamental part of the establishment’s “degradation ceremony” and thus an, in my view deliberate, attack on the very basis of the power of the establishment’s mouthpieces, the power that many want to use to remove him from office. That is what this is all about. Once that is understood the intensity of the hysteria is suddenly explained.

What do you think? Is the MSM fighting a losing battle? Please leave a comment below.

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