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Former Washington Journalist
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A former top US military leader traced the motivation of Donald Trump and his supporters to the erosion over decades of the unquestioned privilege that white men had enjoyed in the nation.
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who formerly led US forces in Afghanistan, made his observation just weeks after Trump’s violent insurrectionists attempted to stage an unsuccessful coup and on the eve of the end of Trump’s term in office and the Inauguration of Joe Biden.
“This isn’t a condition that just suddenly appeared in U.S. society. In reality, this is a lifestyle health problem that we’ve had over time that began decades ago. And as we talked, there’s a history of periods of extreme [inaudible] in the United States, such as the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, which a lot of people don’t realize, but I would say that the hardest part of this really probably goes back to the 1950s,” McChrystal said, offering an historical sweep of white supremacy. “We came out of the Second World War, we were in the early stages of the Cold War, and suddenly white men, which were the predominant demographic there at the Capitol, white men started losing ground. They started losing their privileged position.
“And what that meant was they lost some of it to the equal rights movement for gender, for women. They lost some of it to the civil rights movement. They lost some of it to the globalization of the economy. So the relatively, and maybe undeserved privileged position that a white worker had for generations was suddenly under threat, and that caused great frustration,” he said. “That caused a sense of loss, and we’ve seen that for several decades now. It was also matched by fear, fear that they would be displaced in society, in fact, be in a position of the oppressed [inaudible] the oppressor. You know, such as they had seen minorities before.
“And so, when you put together a frustration and fear, you get the combination of desperation, you get the output of desperation. And so, suddenly they become fertile ground for accepting things that they want to believe, they want to believe that all of this is the result of a conspiracy, they want to believe that there are evil people doing this to them and they want to believe there are relatively simple fixes to it, like a demagogic leader who comes and is able to say I will give you the solution to your problem, we’ll build a wall,” McChrystal said.
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