As our Nick Arama covered earlier, California DNC member David Atkins believes it’s time to start “deprogramming” 75 million people in this country, apparently referring to everyone who voted for Donald Trump – and received a lot of backlash. Here’s the first tweet in his thread:
No seriously…how *do* you deprogram 75 million people? Where do you start? Fox? Facebook?
We have to start thinking in terms of post-WWII Germany or Japan. Or the failures of Reconstruction in the South.
— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) November 18, 2020
After the backlash, Atkins claimed he wasn’t advocating for re-education camps or anything. So does he understand what really happened in post-WW2 Germany and Japan? Perhaps he needs a little history refresher? From that oh-so-conservative site Wikipedia, under the “Denazification” entry:
Denazification (German: Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of the Nazi ideology. It was carried out by removing those who had been Nazi Party or SS members from positions of power and influence and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism.
The term denazification was first coined as a legal term in 1943 in the Pentagon, intended to be applied in a narrow sense with reference to the post-war German legal system. Soon afterward, it took on a general meaning. From 1945 to 1950, the Allied powers detained over 400,000 Germans in internment camps in extrajudicial fashion in the name of denazification.
So, Mr. Atkins, thinking in terms of post-WW2 Germany you would be advocating for removing anyone who had been a member of the Republican party from “positions of power and influence” and by officially disbanding the Republican National Committee and all of its sub-organizations, and potentially detaining millions of Americans in an internment camp without the benefit of due process?
That, Mr. Atkins, is fascist.
Or perhaps he’d like to come up with a modernized “10 Percent” plan to allow Trump voters or Republicans to enjoy their right to vote again. As you’ll recall, the 10 Percent plan allowed a former Confederate state to “be reintegrated into the Union when 10 percent of the 1860 vote count from that state had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States and pledged to abide by emancipation.” Maybe Trump supporters would have to pledge to abide by socialism, in his view?
It looks like Atkins’ claim that he wasn’t calling for re-education camps or anything was a load of manure.
This theme of punishing Trump’s supporters isn’t a new one for Atkins, who writes for Washington Monthly. In a piece published November 7, Atkins argued that Democrats should “Reach Out to Trump’s Victims. Not His Supporters.” From that piece, emphasis mine:
As Donald Trump’s historic defeat begins to settle on the national consciousness, calls are already coming in for victorious Democrats to reach out to Trump supporters with patience and understanding.
These calls would be understandable in a normal political divide over policy issues.
But the problem is that this is not a normal political divide. On one side is a movement for better healthcare, economic equity and climate justice that spans culture, race, faith, gender, age and orientation….On the other side is a movement dedicated less to any specific policy than to harming the first coalition. It is comprised almost entirely of older, whiter, more male, rural fundamentalist Christians. It is driven heavily by conspiracy theories centered on racist and anti-semitic slurs against that coalition.
This year’s GOP had no policy platform. Its single unifying characteristic is a desire to own the libs. Its rallying cry is “cry more, snowflake….”
Aside from the fact that his description of the group’s composition is completely and provably false,
After blaming the deaths of 230,000 Americans on COVID and Donald Trump and claiming that “most” would be alive if a Democrat had been president, Atkins goes through a litany of groups he believes deserve “reaching out” to and describes in very negative terms the “other” groups, like Trump supporters, police, “mask refusers,” people who believe in curbing illegal immigration, and more:
We should be reaching out to…their families, not to the reckless COVID deniers and mask refusers. Hundreds of families were intentionally separated, many never to be reunited, in an aggressive, systemic racist assault to Make America White Again. We should be reaching out to them and their families, not the blubbering white supremacists with tiki torches shouting “you will not replace us.”
We should be reaching out to the Black people suffering the brunt of billy clubs, tear gas canisters and bullets in no-knock raids, not the men in paramilitary gear wielding and using them. We should be reaching out to the millions of women fearful that their abortion rights may soon be eliminated, not the Bible-thumping patriarchs afraid that their daughters might have sex without fear of the Lord’s consequences. And so on.
Referring to Democrats/socialists as “the majority coalition of the decent,” Atkins instructs his readers:
Now is the time not to reach out to Trump supporters, but to celebrate emancipation from them. Now is not the time to encourage a victorious Biden to work with Republican Senators who represent 20 million fewer Americans than Democratic Senators do….Now is the time to break free from the house of the abuser, not to patch things up and hope they’ll change this time.
Sounds like he’s all about unity.
Since Atkins has lived in my area of Southern California and led Democrat party groups for quite some time, I’ve long been familiar with his brand of vitriol (especially when he offered non-existent screenshots to Mediaite and Politico for hit pieces against me in retaliation for my expose of one of his heroes, Katie Hill). Atkins has a nearly pathological distaste for Republican voters, and conflates white people living in rural areas and farmers with the entire Republican party.
As an example, these 2019 tweets that he’s since deleted (thank the Wayback Machine, but somehow it’s the French version):
The gist of his point in the tweetstorm and in his linked/pimped articles is that the economic hardships faced by rural white Americans are better addressed by liberal policies and that, hey, while they’re “drowning in federal largesse,” a/k/a subsidies, but that the rural white Americans so racist that they’re biting the hand that feeds them.
And at a certain point, continuing to treat them like they're just too ignorant to see what the plutocrats are doing, or continuing to blame the Dem Party for failing to engage with *just* the right message to unlock them?
That's also a form of paternalistic condescension.
— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) July 19, 2019
In an American Prospect piece linked to his tweetstorm, Atkins flat-out says Trump voters are racist.
It’s clear that prejudice did play an outsize role in helping Trump to victory. A raft of quantitative data across multiple studies all indicate that racism is strongly correlated to support for Trump. The 2016 National Election Study showed that racially discriminatory attitudes more closely corresponded to Trump votes than any other factor.
It seems that Atkins’ obsession with “fixing” the racist Trump voters only increased in the intervening 18-or-so months, and that he’s now lashing out in response to some alleged “trauma” inflicted on him and millions of others by Trump:
The majority coalition in this nation is still suffering from a collective trauma inflicted by a president who governed explicitly to harm them. Those who grew up in households of trauma and abuse recognize the similarity of the last four years to their own childhood experiences.
Stunning. It might be that the last statement says a whole lot more about Atkins and his family than it does about Donald Trump. And, like Atkins says of Trump supporters, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” You’ve been telling us for years exactly who you are, Mr. Atkins.