Progress Report

More Meetings, Broadcast Interviews and Outreach

Global Impact During a Time of Accelerating Change

An Update From Mark Weber
Director, Institute for Historical Review
April 2016

These days everyone is talking about Donald Trump, the clear Republican Party front-runner in this year’s presidential election campaign. Millions of Americans look to the billionaire businessman with hope, while many others view him with loathing and fear.

Trump’s remarkable appeal is an expression of historically unprecedented levels of distrust of politicians and the media, broad rejection of the System, a growing sense of alienation, and anxiety about the future.

Donald Trump speaks at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most powerful Zionist organizations

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has mounted an impressive challenge to the well-financed campaign of Establishment candidate Hillary Clinton. Support for Sanders – who is especially popular with younger Americans – likewise reflects broad rejection of “politics as usual.”

National surveys confirm the gloomy mood. A recent Ipsos poll, for example, found that 58 percent of independent voters, and a startling 72 percent of Republicans, agree with the statement: “More and more, I don’t identify with what America has become.” And 53 percent of independent voters, as well as 62 percent of Republicans, agree with the statement: “These days I feel like a stranger in my own country.” Other polls show that most Americans believe that the country is going in the wrong direction, and that life will be less prosperous or secure for their children.

At our March 19 IHR meeting, the Trump phenomenon, and what it means for our future, was the focus of well-presented talks by several speakers, and a lively exchange of views during an open discussion session. This gathering – the first IHR event of the new year – brought together 40-50 men and women who also enjoyed food, drink and good fellowship.

In his carefully researched and informative talk, William S. Hulsy took a close look at the various Republican presidential contenders, and laid out the factors behind Trump’s extraordinary appeal. Hulsy, an attorney who represented the IHR, 1988-1995, has been active in California politics for years. (This was his second address at an IHR gathering.)

Trump is the only presidential candidate of either major party, Hulsy pointed out, who speaks frankly about the harmful consequences of massive illegal immigration, and who promises “America first” policies on trade and foreign affairs. Because America today is in an “existential crisis,” he stressed, only vigorous and sweeping policies like those proposed by Trump can effectively counter the ruinous trends of recent decades.

Trump has already done a great service, I said in my talk, by speaking boldly about important issues that the mainstream media and System politicians have ignored – thereby forcing them into open public discussion. His pledge to halt illegal immigration, deport unlawful migrants, and build a wall along the US-Mexico border, immediately set him apart from the other presidential candidates, and won him enthusiastic support from millions of disaffected Americans. “A nation without borders is not a nation,” he says.

Similarly popular has been Trump’s sharp criticism of this country’s long-standing “birthright citizenship” and “anchor baby” policy, whereby citizenship is automatically granted to anyone born here, even if the mother is in the US illegally, or is merely visiting as a tourist. This policy is so obviously foolish that no other major country in the world shares it.

Trump has also earned support for pointedly rejecting “Political Correctness” – a structure of taboos that stifles honest discussion about race and gender realities in American society. “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” he’s said. On another occasion he was even more blunt: “Political correctness is killing our country.”

Although Donald Trump deserves credit for highlighting major issues, and for giving voice to legitimate concerns, there is much about him – I cautioned – that is troubling. His rhetoric is often vulgar, narcissistic, wildly exaggerated, and thoughtlessly offensive. His shameless pandering to the pro-Israel lobby, with expressions of blank-check support and boundless “love” for the Jewish state, suggest that he will do nothing to curtail Jewish-Zionist power and its grip on the mass media and US foreign policy.

Given his record of overblown rhetoric, inconsistent and even contradictory views on issues, and a seeming lack of principle, it would be wise – I concluded – to keep expectations about a Trump presidency very low.

As we’ve reported, 2015 was an exceptionally active year for us, with productive visits to Britain, Sweden, Turkey and Mexico. Details about those visits, with photos, are given in our online “Progress Report” notices of last July and of November.

In 2015 we organized six IHR meetings here in southern California, each one dedicated to a specific topic or theme. These educational gatherings brought together hundreds of men and women, as well as a range of seasoned, informed speakers. They have helped make the IHR an important center for like-minded people in the region.

We rounded out 2015 with an upbeat Christmas get-together. This Dec. 12 event -- our sixth annual Christmas gathering – was a friendly, festive occasion of good fellowship and food that brought together about 40 men and women (and a 21-month-old infant). In addition to well-received talks by two younger guest speakers, I gave a brief address in which I reviewed our work and accomplishments in 2015, and expressed appreciation to the colleagues and friends who helped make the year such a successful one.

During 2015 I conducted dozens of broadcast interviews with US and overseas media, appearing as a guest on radio and television broadcasts to talk about topical and historical issues. Most of these were with global television broadcasters that reach vast numbers of viewers. My analysis and commentary in these interviews cover a range of current affairs issues, including American and Russian involvement in the Middle East, US relations with Israel and other countries, and ISIS terrorism in Iraq and Syria.

Some of these interviews have been made into video clips, which attract additional viewers around the world. Twenty-eight videos of my appearances in 2015 as a news analyst with Press TV have been produced, posted on YouTube, and made available to a global viewership.

Nearly every day we receive e-mail messages, letters or phone calls from people who thank us for our work. We are especially gratified by the expressions of appreciation from younger men and women.

During this time of uncertainty, anxiety and accelerating change, more people than ever are questioning long-held assumptions. With growing numbers asking hard questions about our society’s direction, and the historical and social-political premises on which it is based, the need for a vital and effective IHR has never been greater.

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