Homeland’s Alt-Right Season

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan on watching the latest season of Homeland (2011-) and don’t want to know anything about what happened, don’t read this.

homeland out is back in

Homeland just finished its sixth season and has already be renewed for a seventh and eighth, with a planned end to the storyline there. When the show began it was sold as the story of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine presumed to have been lost in action until he is found during a raid on a terrorist compound, after several years of brutal captivity. But the central character of the show has always been Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. intelligence genius who suffers from psychotic episodes. Carrie is the only one who suspects that Brody may have been compromised by the enemy, which turns out to be true. This doesn’t stop her from falling in love (lust, then love) with him, breaking up his marriage, and ultimately getting him killed. There are plenty more dramatic twists and turns, along with emotionally satisfying moments in the first three seasons, both realistic and unrealistic, but the Carrie-Brody love affair is the main throughline.

Season four was set in Pakistan, where we learned that the Pakistanis aren’t really our friends, and five was primarily in Berlin, where we learn that the sneaky Russians are still our enemies. Now, in season six, Carrie has come home to New York. No longer with, “The Agency,” she is a secret advisor to President Elect Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), who is opposed by some key players in the National Security establishment and elsewhere, who are will to do anything, including murder, to stop her. There is also a blow-hard, conspiracy theorist, compulsive liar of a talk show host, Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), endlessly complaining on his, “Real Truth,” program about how America is lost and Keane will destroy the Republic.

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My first reaction to the O’Keefe character was to recall Glenn Beck at his chalkboard, when he was still ranting on Fox News. But Beck now claims to regret the divisions he helped create in the American Electorate and he did not support The Donald, so he has fallen out of favor with much of the reactionary crowd he helped cultivate.

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Most people seem to see O’Keefe as an Alex Jones parody, though he never gets as loud and childishly angry as Jones does – and Jones’s Disinformation War followers were offended by this perceived attack on their phony hero from the get go. They, specifically, Paul Joseph Watson, writing on Jones’s website, laments the “fact” that:

The plots of earlier Homeland seasons were usually focused around Islamic terrorism, but in later series the show has kowtowed to political correctness and allowed social justice narratives to ruin the dynamism of what was once an enjoyable watch.

In truth, Homeland has always raised questions about the justness of American actions and the handling of the War on Terror (or whatever you want to call it). If that is something you want to lump under the all-purpose, and often meaningless phrase, “politically correctness,” so be it, but it’s nothing new. I have no idea what Watson thinks a, “social justice narrative,” is, since he gives no examples and puts no thought into that charge either, but I don’t see it anywhere in the show.

Watson, and many of the fans commenting on his article, also believe that the choice of a female President Elect proves, “how out of touch the producers [of Homeland] are with reality” (as if Trump won the popular vote or was somehow inevitable).

I think their real problem with the O’Keefe character is that he is too close to the real thing; a man willing to say and do anything to whip up the mob and murder truth for his own ends and perverted sense of self-importance. [Note: You can see more about Jones in my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015).]

alex jones on air

What I find disheartening is how much Homeland feeds into Alt-Right, conspiracy theorist paranoia; this season more than ever. By the end of the finale it is unclear who was/is in league with whom and if anyone can be trusted, including the new President. What is the real plan and to what end? Like so many shows, which I generally like, as shows (House of Cards (2013-) and 24 (2001-2010) come readily to mind), Homeland paints a very unreal and frightening vision of our government officials at work that is closely akin to the, “Deep State,” rhetoric of conspiracy wingnuts. One in which large numbers of public servants are ruthless to a fault and disinterested in morality, the rule of law, or anything outside their personal ambitions and sinister plots. My tinfoil head wearing critics scoff at me when I point out facts like this and come back with retorts like, “You’re so naive (or stupid) to think that government officials are all good and honest.” But that not what I’m saying. Not at all. I’m simply trying to put the faults of our government officials into a reasonable perspective. If America were actually such a pathetic, backstabbing, literarily murderous, Banana Republic, where vast numbers of bureaucrats and officers are constantly scheming to commit horrendous crimes and trample our Constitutional structures to the ground, then we would not be making up wild TV fantasies to entertain ourselves because we would be too busy living miserable lives and dying horribly in the nightmare clutches of a Police State.

Homeland keeps bring two classic films to mind for me: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964). The first is about a communist plot to take over America, in which a soldier is brainwashed into becoming an assassin and the biggest anti-communist Senator turns out to be the real embodiment of the danger he has long been warning the people about. The second centers around a military coup, orchestrated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who believes the President is a “weak sister” and the nation needs to be saved from. If you haven’t see them, you should.

Homeland clearly borrows elements from these two films but it lacks the Kennedy Era sense of patriotism they champion. Homeland, like too many other shows and movies today, rarely seems to believe that America is an idea worth fighting for. Carrie is simply trying to stop terrorists from killing innocent people or trying to stop her friends from getting killed, and we’re just in it to see what Carrie will do next.

Episode 612

Trump: ‘Lynch em’

Most of the public’s attention recently has been focused on contempt for Donald Trump’s horrible treatment of women. A few Trumpets [Trump Idiots] have tried their desperate best to pretend that, “bad boy talk,” or, “locker room banter,” from eleven years ago is irrelevant, but the vast majority seems to know better. 1) We understand the difference between impolite remarks about a woman’s anatomy and bragging about how fun it is to molest women. 2) We have heard enough of Trump’s reckless disregard for others – from Mexicans and Muslims to women and POWs – to know that these comments from eleven years ago could have been made eleven minutes ago. Trump’s character is well known, deeply entrenched, and unlikely to change.

There is another story, however, that highlights an even sicker aspect of Trump’s soul and hasn’t received its fair share of attention. More than two decades ago a woman was brutally raped in New York’s Central Park while jogging at night. The woman was white and the five young men arrested for the crime were all black and Latino. Under pressure from the police and a disregard for the rights of the accused, all five defendants cracked and confessed to their involvement in the rape. They were later convicted based only on these false confessions. Many people were caught up in this emotional moment and their worst elements came to the surface in calls for something to be done. Donald Trump took out a full page newspaper ad calling for the return of the death penalty in New York and chose to make himself a very public face of the angry (white) body politic.

Documentarian Ken Burns captured the hysteria and tragedy of this case masterfully in The Central Park Five (2013), which is currently playing on Amazon Prime. I say “tragedy” because we now know beyond any reasonable doubt that all five defendants were wrongfully convicted, serving between five and thirteen years in prison, until DNA evidence completely exonerated them and the actual assailant, a convicted murder and serial rapist, was found. You would think this would be a cautionary tale and men like Trump would learn not to rush to judgement or let themselves be fueled by hate, but self reflection is clearly not The Donald’s strong suit. To this day he refuses to accept the facts and thinks the $40,000,000 New York paid out to these greatly abused citizens was an injustice. Donald’s judgements (i.e. feelings) are the only thing that matters in Donald’s mind.

When Trump speaks of, “Law and Order,” remember this case and realize what he is really saying. In another time, when you could get away with that kind of thing, he would have been the head of the lynch mob raining “justice” down upon these boys. His, “stop and frisk,” mentality is not only the wrong answer to our current problems, it is a Yuge reason why we have those problems in the first place. There is no intellectually honest way to spin it. This racist, sexist, buffoon of a conman, exemplifies everything that has held America back from being as great as it can possibly be.

Stop making sense

Last week I engaged once more with supporters of The Donald (aka @realDonaldTrump, aka Drumpf) on Twitter. I know it’s a bad idea to think I might actually get anywhere by doing this – 1) Twitter is a medium for slogans and bumper sticker logic, not thoughtful conversation and debate, and 2) The emotional politics of the Trump faithful make the consideration of facts uncomfortable – but it was kind of fun nonetheless.

Here’s a few highlights from the echo chamber I stepped into:

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Nazi Cat @LolAtSafespaces appears to have the same sexist, knee-jerk response as his idol when it comes to woman. Females should be evaluated on their looks – hot or hag – with himself as the arbiter of beauty and worth. As for Trump’s racism, apparently we need not look at any of his statements and actions over the years, because the liberal media conspiracy is to blame for anything we might find. In response to this nonsense I suggest that he, and other #AlwaysTrump Tweeters, take a look at their hero’s long relationship with bigot Roy Cohn, for starters. Mr. LOL’s response was to simplify the matter to the point of making it meaningless.

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To begin with, if I were making nothing more than a, “You’re friend is X, therefore you are X,” guilt by association argument, that would not be an opinion. More importantly, young Trump wasn’t merely a casual friend with the very dishonest and contemptible Cohn. According to people who knew both men during the 70s and 80s, they cruised Manhattan together socially and Roy was a trusted mentor to Donald. More importantly to the question at hand, Cohn’s first big case for the Trump Family was defending them (Donald and his father) against a Federal Justice Department prosecution for rent discrimination. Even if you want to imagine that these accusations were false, their existence disproves the lie that Trump was never labeled as a racism before running for the Presidency.

At the heart of many Trumpets appears to be a denial of racism altogether. This fact was vividly brought home to me by a MEME from @lynn_weiser:

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Seriously? I shudder to think what “Lady Patriot’s” conception of patriotism is if this is her idea of history. How willfully ignorant do you need to be in order to believe there were no racists until the commies made up racism in 1927 and anyone who is labeled as racist is really just a “nonconformist” anti-communist? What!?! It’s like a wormhole opened up in the sky and a flood of John Birch Society members rained down upon us from the 1960s.

Along with sidestepping racism and sexism, another canard in this encampment is the idea that Trump is a beckon of capitalist achievement. As @ClownGroovy put it:

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What is Trump’s great success, other than becoming a celebrity? He was a spoiled rich kid who followed his father into the family business, drawing upon daddy’s contacts and a, “small million dollar loan,” from daddy’s bank account. With all these advantages, what stellar accomplishments has he managed? Trump Towers? A hit Reality TV Show? That’s as good as the list gets. There was a time when most people, myself included, thought of him as a casino mogul, but that illusion has been exposed for anyone willing to look at the facts. Many of his dealings actually have little to do with him; they are just poorly vetted third parties leasing his name for a phony seal of approval. When things go sour, as they often do, Trump hides behind the Bart Simpson, “I didn’t do it,” defense. Trump Steaks, Airlines, Vodka, Ice, Magazine, Mortgage, etc., are not examples of entrepreneurial trial and error; they’re just unmitigated failures. And then there is Trump University, which, “has been accused not just of fraud, false advertising, and unfair business practices, but also of having used such tactics against vulnerable seniors in ways that violated special “financial elder abuse” statutes in California and Florida.” These accusations appear to be rooted in a stronger and stronger foundation with each new detail we learn about this scam.

I invited all of my Twitter combatants to come to my blog and make a thoughtful, rational argument (something longer than 140 characters) explaining how my facts and/or reasoning was in error, but none of them would take me up on the offer. They pretended as if it wasn’t worth it but I’m guessing they were afraid they couldn’t do it. Surprisingly, Nazi Cat gave me the most inadvertently honest answer:

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Speaks volumes, doesn’t it? He has already determined that my “stats” are misleading and my blog is “shitty” without reading it, so why bother to read it?

I could say more but you get the idea. I realize that Trump’s posse aren’t unique in their denial of reality, or their inability to make good arguments, these things are sadly all too common throughout society. But I sincerely believe that Trump is uniquely dangerous for America and I feel compelled to speak out against him. I also realize that I come off as rather arrogant, because I refuse to pretend that unreasonable things are reasonable. But I honestly don’t know what else to do. At the risk of sounding extremely conceited, I just can’t stop making sense.


UPDATE

After making this post I pointed it out on Twitter to those who were named in it and had this exchange with Nazi Cat:

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To which I replied:

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I left it there but he continued on for a couple more tweets:

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You couldn’t order up a more stereotypical Trump supporter from central casting.

#MAKEAMERICAHATEAGAIN

make america hate again

When I started this blog I had no intention of making it so Trump focused; in fact, I never would have imagined that I would spend any time talking about such a bad joke as The Donald. How wrong I was, how wrong we all were, but now I feel compelled to speak out as forcefully as I possibly can against this mad man and his frightening supporters.

When did we fall into a time tunnel and end up back in the Civil Rights Era? How did we go from the first black President to a hate mongering demagogue being seriously considered for the Presidency? Please, White America, don’t tell me about Obama’s failings, real or imaginary, and his inability to be a post-racial President. Don’t complain to me about the tactics of the Black Lives Matter folk. Don’t tell me how, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” was a media fabrication of what really happened in Ferguson. I’ve heard all this crap before, and even said some of it myself, but we’ve got to get beyond that and stop looking for someone else to blame! The Trump Mob pushing and screaming, “Nigger Cunt” at Shiya Nwanguma, for practicing civil disobedience at a Louisville rally were not expressing legitimate grievances. John McGraw, who sucker punched protester Rakeem Jones at a North Carolina rally – and then went on to say, “He deserved it,” for, “not acting like an American,” and, “next time we see him, we might have to kill him” – was not perturbed about some silly point of “political correctness” run amok. He was longing for the good old days of his youth (he’s 78) when white men were unquestionably in charge and hatred was celebrated as if it were greatness.

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trump hate fire hose

trump hate lunch counter

Donald, The Drumpf, stands for the worst of America and that is why he is bringing out the worst in the US. The white supremacist, minority hating, conspiracy theorist loving, sexist, all around bigot, willfully ignorant, fake Christians, that I am sickened to admit still exists.

trump hate confederate flag

As Mitt Romney said in his March 3 speech, “this is a time for choosing,” but it’s not just about choosing someone other than Donald Trump and continuing on like nothing ever happened; it is about choosing to reject hate and to stop listening to haters, everyday. We should all be asking ourselves, “What have I done to help make America truly great?” Simply opposing a spoiled brat billionaire isn’t enough. We need to learn from this resurgence of hate that Trump has brought to the surface and stop pretending it isn’t there. If the Republican Party, Conservatism, and America are going to continue to stand for anything good, we have all got to start by admitting what is bad and pushing back against it. Don’t make America hate again. Don’t let this become the norm.

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