Why People Should Stop Calling Trump Racist
November 23, 2016
An idiosyncratic and highly metacognitive blogger offers this fascinating, lengthy, thorough, thoughtful piece: “You Are Still Crying Wolf”.
He makes a lot of great points. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I do think our national discourse would be healthier if more people seriously considered several of his arguments.
For whatever it’s worth, note that the author is not a conservative, and definitely not a Trump supporter (source: this same piece); in the recent election, he endorsed everyone but Trump. (He is apparently sometimes very tongue-in-cheek—and hilarious—but this piece pretty clearly seems to be in earnest.)
On how Trump appears to have done with actual voters:
Trump made gains among blacks. He made gains among Latinos. He made gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.
On Trump’s public statements and crying wolf:
And I’ve seen a few dozen articles like this where people say that “the bright side of a Trump victory is that finally America admitted its racism out in the open so nobody can pretend it’s not there anymore.”
This, I think, is the first level of crying wolf. What if, one day, there is a candidate who hates black people so much that he doesn’t go on a campaign stop to a traditionally black church in Detroit, talk about all of the contributions black people have made to America, promise to fight for black people, and say that his campaign is about opposing racism in all its forms? What if there’s a candidate who does something more like, say, go to a KKK meeting and say that black people are inferior and only whites are real Americans?
We might want to use words like “openly racist” or “openly white supremacist” to describe him. And at that point, nobody will listen, because we wasted “openly white supremacist” on the guy who tweets pictures of himself eating a taco on Cinco de Mayo while saying “I love Hispanics!”
Estimating how many white supremacists there might be in America:
So our different ways of defining “open white supremacist”, even for definitions of “open” so vague they include admitting it on anonymous surveys, suggest maybe 1-2%, 1-2%, 4-7%, 3-11%, and 1-3%.
On the famous “wall”:
7. What about the border wall? Doesn’t that mean Trump must hate Mexicans?
As multiple sources point out, both Hillary and Obama voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which put up a 700 mile fence along the US-Mexican border. Politifact says that Hillary and Obama wanted a 700 mile fence but Trump wants a 1000 mile wall, so these are totally different. But really? Support a 700 mile fence, and you’re the champion of diversity and all that is right in the world; support a 1000 mile wall and there’s no possible explanation besides white nationalism?
Trying to understand how Clinton voters and Trump voters actually think (and feel) about immigration:
In one model, immigration is a right. You need a very strong reason to take it away from anybody, and such decisions should be carefully inspected to make sure no one is losing the right unfairly. It’s like a store: everyone should be allowed to come in and shop and if a manager refused someone entry then they better have a darned good reason.
In another, immigration is a privilege which members of a community extend at their pleasure to other people whom they think would be a good fit for their community. It’s like a home: you can invite your friends to come live with you, but if someone gives you a vague bad feeling or seems like a good person who’s just incompatible with your current lifestyle, you have the right not to invite them and it would be criminal for them to barge in anyway.
It looks like many Clinton supporters believe in the first model, and many Trump supporters in the second model. I think this ties into deeper differences – Clinton supporters are more atomized and individualist, Trump supporters stronger believers in culture and community.
In the second model, the community gets to decide how many immigrants come in and on what terms. Most of the Trump supporters I know are happy to let in a reasonable amount, but they get very angry when people who weren’t invited or approved by the community come in anyway and insist that everyone else make way for them.
On the Oldest Hatred:
10. Isn’t Trump anti-Semitic?
I feel like an attempt to avoid crying wolf might reserve that term for people who didn’t win an Israeli poll on what candidate would best represent Israel’s interests, or doesn’t have a child who converted to Judaism, or hasn’t won various awards from the American Jewish community for his contributions to Israel and American Judaism, or wasn’t the grand marshal of a Salute To Israel Parade, or…
On the news stories you hear about white supremacists’ getting bolder since the election:
14. Haven’t there been hundreds of incidents of Trump-related hate crimes?
. . .
Oh, also, I looked on right-wing sites to see if there are complaints of harassment and attacks by Hillary supporters, and there are. Among the stories I was able to confirm on moderately trustworthy news sites that had investigated them somewhat (a higher standard than the SLPC holds their reports to) are ones about how Hillary supporters have beaten up people for wearing Trump hats, screamed encouragement as a mob beat up a man who they thought voted Trump, knocked over elderly people, beaten up a high school girl for supporting Trump on Instagram, defaced monuments with graffiti saying “DIE WHITES DIE”, advocated raping Melania Trump, kicked a black homeless woman who was holding a Trump sign, attacked a pregnant woman stuck in her car, with a baseball bat, screamed at children who vote Trump in a mock school election, etc, etc, etc.
On the panic gripping a segment of the population since the election:
Why am I harping on this?
I work in mental health. So far I have had two patients express Trump-related suicidal ideation. One of them ended up in the emergency room, although luckily both of them are now safe and well. I have heard secondhand of several more.
Like Snopes, I am not sure if the reports of eight transgender people committing suicide due to the election results are true or false. But if they’re true, it seems really relevant that Trump denounced North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom law, and proudly proclaimed he would let Caitlyn Jenner use whatever bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower, making him by far the most pro-transgender Republican president in history.
I notice news articles like Vox: Donald Trump’s Win Tells People Of Color They Aren’t Welcome In America. Or Salon’s If Trump Wins, Say Goodbye To Your Black Friends. MSN: Women Fear For Their Lives After Trump Victory.
Vox writes about the five-year-old child who asks “Is Donald Trump a bad person? Because I heard that if he becomes president, all the black and brown people have to leave and we’re going to become slaves.” The Star writes about a therapist called in for emergency counseling to help Muslim kids who think Trump is going to kill them. I have patients who are afraid to leave their homes.
. . .
On unintended consequences:
Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?
Stop using the words “white nationalist” to describe Trump. When you describe someone as a white nationalist, and then they win, people start thinking white nationalism won. People like winners. This was entirely an own-goal and the perception that white nationalism is now the winning team has 1% to do with Trump and 99% to do with his critics.
On crime and racism:
Stop saying that being against crime is a dog whistle for racism. Have you ever met a crime victim? They don’t like crime. I work with people from a poor area, and a lot of them have been raped, or permanently disabled, or had people close to them murdered. You know what these people have in common? They don’t like crime When you say “the only reason someone could talk about law and order is that they secretly hate black people, because, y’know, all criminals are black”, not only are you an idiot, you’re a racist. Also, I judge you for not having read the polls saying that nonwhites are way more concerned about crime than white people are.
Stop turning everything into identity politics. The only thing the media has been able to do for the last five years is shout “IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS!” at everything, and then when the right wing finally says “Um, i…den-tity….poli-tics?” you freak out and figure that the only way they could have possibly learned that phrase is from the KKK.
(The author seems like the kind of guy who might appreciate my doing this calculation, just to satisfy my and anyone else’s curiosity: This synopsis, including all excerpts, is approximately 18% as long as the full original, in terms of word count.)