Desperate Search For a 'Reichstag Fire'
Given his serious unpopularity, an incident for illegal
power grab is increasingly a dangerous possibility.
By Hamid Dabashi
Donald Trump and
his top Islamophobe nomenklatura gathered at the White
House, now led by the militant crusader Stephen Bannon, are
on a desperate lookout for their "Reichstag Fire" and
their favourite propaganda outlet, Fox News, is
franticly searching for it - even in Canada.
was an arson attack on the Reichstag, the German
parliament, in Berlin on February 27, 1933. The incident
was soon abused by Adolf Hitler and his gang to demand a
suspension of civil liberties in systematic preparation
for his putsch for total fascist power.
Ever since, the
term "Reichstag Fire" is used metaphorically to mark a
dreadful event abused by any proto-fascist movement to
blame an amorphous internal enemy, to be coupled with an
external enemy, and rapidly from there rapidly move
towards a total control of the state apparatus by
criminalising and crushing public dissent.
Given the fact of
Trump's serious unpopularity with a significant portion
of American society, this "Reichstag Fire" incident is
increasingly a dangerous possibility.
From the historic
Women's March in Washington to widespread airport
rallies against his Muslim ban, Trump and his handlers
know only too well his loss of the presidential popular
vote by about three million nationwide is now growing
into widespread public discontent, state-level
gubernatorial opposition, and systematic resistance by
the judiciary branch.
Fake news and Fox News
Soon after the
executive order late in January banning Muslims from
seven countries for 90 days to enter the United States,
the Trump administration was given what it thought was
its "Reichstag Fire" moment to justify its draconian
measures and push for even more.
presented itself when reports emerged that a gunman had
attacked a Muslim centre in Quebec, Canada. Fox News,
Trump's most trusted source of fake news, instantly came
forward and reported the perpetrator was a Moroccan
like most other things on Fox News, was a case of bogus
reporting. The suspect of the mass murder in Quebec was,
in fact, a violent "white nationalist" named Alexandre
Bissonnette, who is a notorious character known to the
local authorities for his racist Islamophobic views. Not
only was the perpetrator of this crime no Muslim, but,
in fact, Muslims were his direct targets.
None of this,
however, prevented Fox News from jumping to the
conclusion that the act of terror was perpetrated by a
Moroccan Muslim and, on the basis of this false news,
the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer instantly
jumped the gun, declaring it a vindication of Trump's
Demonisation and official persecution of
Muslims, just as Jews were in Nazi Germany,
will progress apace until he manufactures
his 'Reichstag Fire'.
But the proverbial
cake in this desperate search for a "Reichstag Fire"
goes to the notorious Kellyanne Conway, Trump's top
chatterbox consigliere, who, in an interview soon after
the Muslim ban, referred to two Iraqi refugees as
"masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre" with
There is no such
thing as a "Bowling Green massacre." She just made it up
- and the dimwitted interviewer just stared at her and
did not object to this fiction. Yes, two Iraqis were
arrested in that city for allegedly having ties to an
explosive device used against US troops in Iraq.
But there was no
"Bowling Green massacre", except in the viciously
demented mind of Conway, the flowering achievement of
State of emergency
Trump and his
handlers are desperate to find a Muslim "Reichstag Fire"
and they will use the incident to further demonise Islam
in the US and push for a Muslim registry or even worse.
The illegal and
unconstitutional Muslim ban is only the first salvo.
Trump has a longer spectrum in mind. Demonisation and
official persecution of Muslims, just as Jews were in
Nazi Germany, will progress apace until he manufactures
his "Reichstag Fire".
In addition to a
domestic threat, Trump and his gang will need a foreign
war to safeguard his presidency for this and the next
terms. He never stopped campaigning after his win. He
knows for a fact he is a vastly unpopular president. His
entire first term will be spent campaigning for the
"Donald Trump needs a war," Bradley
and further adds, "But not just any war. He needs just
the right global non-Christian, all-powerful,
all-frightening, non-white, non-negotiable enemy. He
needs a Holy War."
The only "Holy
War" Trump can wage is of course against Muslims.
Standing next to
him is one Steve Bannon, an obsessed crusader you have
to go back all the way to characters such as Raynald of
Chatillon or Guy of Lusignan of the Crusaders period to
find the likes of him: vicious, malignant, hatred of
Muslims and Jews definitive to who and what he is.
Bannon has a malignantly illiterate
conception of a perpetual war between Islam and
Christianity that he has picked up off some lunatic
website like his own Breitbart, fully on display in
a vile speech he
gave via Skype to a gang of like-minded militant
Christians in 2014.
At one crucial
point in this speech he says: "I believe you should take
a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical
Islam," and if you thought he means "radical Islam" and
not "Islam", he immediately corrects you by adding: "If
you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian
West struggle against Islam, I believe that our
forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the
right thing. I think they kept it out of the world,
whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places … It
bequeathed to us the great institution that is the
church of the West."
Huntington to New Atheists to Benjamin Netanyahu to
Bannon's Christian zealotry have been pointing to an
all-out war with one final standing Muslim country not
entirely subservient to the US Christian militarism:
Trump's National Security Adviser - and
Bannon's fellow militant Islamophobe - Michael Flynn
putting Iran on notice.
raising public awareness and mobilising civil
disobedience against Trump's policies have now become
the hallmarks of a whole new generation of anti-war
civil rights movement in the US.
Hamid Dabashi is
Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and
Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Information Clearing House.