Trump is horrible and terrifying; members of his inner circle are horrible and terrifying; this whole situation is horrible and terrifying.
No one in the internet news-o-sphere seems to disagree.
Even when I plug my nose and dive into news sites that are pro-Trump, I don’t get the usual post-election gloss I’d typically expect.
Usually when one side wins an election and starts filling cabinet positions, there is an effort by the victorious party to sell each cabinet appointee as the best option for the whole country – even if they’re not. In other words, GOP wins of the past have brought cabinet shuffles backed with justifications that “so-and-so is getting the position because they are the most qualified person, and the whole country will benefit from this person’s expertise”.
Of course, this is often a lie, and it’s the other side’s duty to show how Secretary So-and-So is really just a partisan insider who is going to advance the party line. Predictably, debate ensues.
As is typical with all things Trump, the usual kabuki of decency has been shed.
When I read the meth lab of hatred that is the alt-right news, no attempt is being made to say that Trump’s cabinet picks have the best interests of all Americans in mind. Rather, they are open about how Trump’s cadre of deplorables are going to fuck their political opponents whether it benefits a majority of Americans or not.
For example, on the subject of newly-appointed US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Breitbart today did a repost of a critical piece from Huffington Post:
(…aside: it should be illegal to appoint someone to a cabinet position when they are named after two Confederate leaders…)
“Back in the mid-1980s, when Sessions was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become a federal judge. But during the nomination process, allegations emerged that Sessions had called a black attorney “boy,” that he suggested a white civil rights lawyer was a race traitor, that he joked he liked the Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked marijuana and that he referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
Wow, what an asshole.
So, to recap: the quote is from Huffington Post – a bastion of the Left that seeks to defame all things Trump. The quote was republished on Breitbart – Trump’s propaganda ministry.
The latter published the quote as is. They did not include a rebuttal. They did not attempt to re-contextualize Sessions’ statements.
The Huffington Post said that the newly-appointed Attorney General of the United States is a terrible racist, and Breitbart simply said “Yup”.
Here’s where my brain goes:
It’s entirely conceivable that a Romney administration, or a Jeb administration, would also appoint terrible racists to key positions. However, when making such appointments, the GOP and their media outlets would try to downplay past racial indiscretions, and parade said racist around with their “one black friend” (Michael Steele?) in an attempt to maintain that veneer of decency – at least attempt to make the case that this person is not racist, and will benefit all Americans with their hard work.
Not so much anymore.
The racists are out of the closet.
…and not just in the Capital…
Every day since the election, my newsfeed has been filling up with reports of increased rates of intimidation and harassment of minority communities across the US – hate crime is on the rise, it seems:
It makes me wonder: these folks weren’t born last Tuesday – they’ve presumably been festering with their racially-charged butthurt for a long time, and have only just been inspired by the asshole-in-chief to come out of the bigot closet and let their assholery play out in public.
I’m about to cross into controversial territory – please comment, or I’ll never learn…
In a terribly twisted way, I wonder if bigotry coming out of the closet actually benefits the progressive cause? Isn’t it easier to champion the rights of marginalized people when their opponents are easily identified?
The immediate answer my Left wing gives me:
“Not when it’s at the expense of marginalized people. Gaining a rhetorical edge should not come at the cost of the lives and well-being of the disadvantaged.”
Still, I want to walk through this thought-experiment:
Racism and bigotry live here in Canada, too.
It can sometimes be hard to spot when we’re so busy congratulating ourselves on being more progressive than Americans, for having an official policy of multiculturalism, for having a 50% female cabinet, and for our lack of high-profile police killings.
I’ve heard it argued that Canada’s blend of aggressive politeness and progressive rhetoric shrouding the inequalities in our society is actually worse than the usual state of affairs in the US – at least America’s problems with inequality are out in the open. At least Americans are forced to acknowledge their checkered past (and present):
In other words, Canadian progressives would seem to argue, at times, that maintaining the veneer of decency is actually worse than a state of out-and-proud racism. The lines are murkier, the rhetoric less direct, and problems easily overlooked.
Does this logic apply to the Trump situation?
Would progressives rather have their racist, bigoted opponents out and easy to spot?
Depends on the cost, I suppose…
Surely, members of minority groups would rather have a neighbor who acts polite and keeps Confederate paraphernalia in their basement than one who sits on their porch with a shotgun shouting bigoted statements…
…although when I read that back to myself, it seems obvious that those are both shitty options…
Here’s what set me down this road:
On Tuesday, a white, middle school teacher in Baltimore lost her temper and went off on a horrible racist tirade. The incident was recorded and posted to social media. The teacher has since been fired.
Her racism didn’t just appear on November 8.
Is it better to have a closeted racist teaching children, occasionally letting her views seep into lessons, subtly advancing her bigoted worldview for thirty years, or to have her show her true stripes in one terrible incident that sees her fired and barred from teaching?
My privilege means my well-being will never depend on the lesser of those shitty options…
I’ll try to wrap this up…
At some point last Tuesday evening, the American Left started mainlining nostalgia for the Obama years. Already, we are seeing the time between 2008 and 2016 as a series of triumphs for progressive values.
A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought we were all that progressive…
My daily dose of everydayfeminism.com had me convinced that veiled bigotry and microaggressions were the real enemies of the progressive cause. Here is a site that regularly publishes articles criticizing self-proclaimed “allies”:
…something tells me that over the next four years, microaggressions will lose airtime as actual aggressions become more high profile…
The more horrendous shit the Trump camp does, the less divided the Left will become. No more will the progressive side be split along identity lines, witch-hunting the microaggressive allies in their midst. We can seize this opportunity to say in a united voice that no matter our differences, we can all agree that this Trump shit is horrible and terrifying and needs to be stopped.
I admit I’ve been conflicted on the issue of how to view 60 million Trump voters – should we cynically court them as a means to win the next election, or should we label them as terrible bigots for supporting Trump?
The answer in my mind: time.
In the next year or so, we are going to see Trump appoint more horrible and terrifying people into positions of power. Then, we’ll see those people start to do some horrible and terrifying things.
There will be a narrow sliver of time for the lightbulb to go on in the minds of those “ignored, working class, anti-establishment voters” who, by their reckoning, did not vote for Trump’s bigoted policies, but supported him to “send a message to the Washington elites”. As Trump’s rhetoric turns into reality, those 60 million voters will have a chance to recognize their mistake, and join the movement to oppose Trump by any means.
Anyone who continues to support the blatant bigotry of the Right as words turn into action should be given no quarter or sympathy.
When the Right finally sheds its cloak of decency and shows its true colours, I’m hopeful that the majority of those 60 million voters will tell them to go to hell.