Sean Hannity, Donald Trump’s de facto spokesman, is now using racialized tropes to denigrate the sitting Commander-in-Chief, facetiously offering to send President Obama and his entire family to Kenya.
"I have an offer for the president. I will charter a plane for you and your family," Hannity declared Wednesday on his daily radio show. "I will charter it to the country of your choice. You want to go to Canada? I'll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I'll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta [in Indonesia], where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there.”
Rather than criticizing the president’s misguided foreign policy initiatives or failed health care bill, Hannity is going for the lowest hanging fruit --race and religion--to make an explicit appeal to the ethno-nationalist alt-right contingent of the Trump movement.
Make no mistake, the terms “Kenya” and “Jakarta” are dog whistles to a small cohort of Trump’s supporters. To members of the alt-right, “Kenya” calls to mind Obama’s black pigment and African heritage, while “Jakarta” immediately triggers conspiracy theories about the president’s supposedly anti-American “Muslim” loyalties.
Underpinning Hannity’s sardonic “offer” is the menace of birtherism -- a patchwork of false suspicions about Obama’s place of birth. While many conservatives have long dismissed birtherism claims as red herrings conjured by the Left, Donald Trump’s protracted refusal to explicitly reject this nonsense --suggesting in an off-the-cuff comment only recently that he no longer fully believes in birtherism after immense pressure from bipartisan critics -- has enabled Democrats to sidestep key issues about fiscal, healthcare, and foreign policy and instead play the game of identity politics to demonize the entire Republican party. With Hannity once again invoking birtherism as a lazy tactic to rally Trump’s core base, expect Democrats to continue milking the “GOP is racist” ploy for everything it’s worth.
As The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro warned, Trump, Hannity, Steve Bannon, and the coalition of paleo-conservative isolationists they inspire are metastasizing what once was the manageable tumor of ethno-nationalism into a full-blown cancer that the GOP elephant may never recover from. By drawing the worst elements of the far-right from out of the woodworks of fringe hate sites and incoherent threads on Reddit, the Trumpian disease is replacing economic liberalism, free trade, social conservatism, and Hamiltonian foreign policy with far-right European rabble-rousing.
Rather than criticizing the president’s misguided foreign policy initiatives or failed health care bill, Hannity is going for the lowest hanging fruit --race and religion ...
When Sean Hannity, a markedly popular and well-known self-identified “conservative” targets the president in a way that makes the Left’s recycled caricatures of the right-wing racist, xenophobic bully resonate, it besmirches movement conservatism as we know it. By normalizing fringe claims once relegated to the underworld of the internet, Hannity not only provides ample ammunition, but weakens the Right from within “morally and spiritually,” as the late President Ronald Reagan would put it.