Racing Right Along

“If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the shedding of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin.” ~ Adolf Hitler

“Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.” ~ Desmond Tutu

Graduate school at Duke University in the early seventies was odd, because North Carolina was odd. It was the South – red clay and loblolly pines out to the horizon, and trailer parks, and the trip down to hip Chapel Hill – a Little Bit of Heaven in the South – was a trip down the Jefferson Davis Highway. Folks were still deeply angry about that War of Northern Aggression. It wasn’t a Civil War, damn it! And in Durham there was no town-gown relationship with Duke. Durham was cigarette factories and tobacco auction houses. The town wanted nothing to do with the fancy-pants rich college kids. There were only pockets of the late twentieth century here and there – the universities and the then-new Research Triangle Park – IBM and other big tech firms set up shop to invent the future. Otherwise it was grits, guns, gravy and God – and seething resentment about the past. And of course race was an issue. Race was always an issue. The Civil War had settled nothing – the South would rise again. Reconstruction and Jim Crow kept the anger simmering, and Lyndon Johnson solved nothing with the Civil Rights Act and then the Voting Rights Act. There were ways around those. And now North Carolina is solidly Republican. All the congressional districts have been redrawn. Most of them are “safe” now – no Democrats will ever win there. White men will run the state.

That’s why Donald Trump was in Greenville:

President Trump held a campaign rally Wednesday night where the crowd responded to his attacks on a Somali-born Muslim congresswoman with chants of “Send her back! Send her back!”

The crowd’s response to Trump echoed the racist remarks he has aimed in recent days at four minority Democratic congresswomen he has accused of making hateful comments about the country, setting off a controversy that led the Democrat-controlled House to vote to formally rebuke him on Tuesday night.

The event here made clear that Trump plans to use his criticism of the liberal lawmakers as a rallying cry during his 2020 campaign as he seeks to frame the election around the nationalistic message that has inflamed racial tensions across the country.

But he had modified his message. He was no longer saying these four should go back to the miserable (“shithole”) countries they came from, and fix those damned countries, before they suggest how to fix this one. They had no right to say how this place should be run until they did that. That seems to have upset a few people, and someone must have tugged on his sleeve and reminded him that three of these women had been born here, and that all four of them had just been elected to the House to fix this country. They were elected to make suggestions, to offer alternatives. That was their job now. They were doing their job.

So there was a new message:

“These congresswomen are helping the rise of a militant, hard left. They never have anything good to say, which is why I say, ‘If they don’t like it, let them leave.'” Trump said. “They don’t love our country, and in some cases I think they hate our country.”

The crowd responded by chanting “leave!”

So this wasn’t ethnic or religious or anything else now. They don’t like what he has been doing. Well, he’s president. They’re not. He’s American. They’re not. So get out. He’d say the same to any young white male who disagreed with him on even the slightest of issues. These four just happened to be minority women, but that was just a coincidence. This was about those who disagreed with his policies and pronouncements. They had to leave now, or sooner, but race had nothing to do with any of this, except that it did:

On Sunday, Trump sent out a series of racist tweets attacking Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), who have been heavily critical of his administration, by saying the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” All four of the congresswomen are American citizens, and only Omar, a Somali refu­gee, was not born in the United States.

Early in his remarks Wednesday night, Trump elicited loud boos when he went after Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib one by one, but he reserved most of his wrath for Omar.

During his 90-minute appearance here, Trump listed controversial remarks made by Omar, including her comments earlier this year that perpetuated anti-Semitic tropes and he falsely claimed that she had praised al-Qaeda.

The “send her back” chants intensified during the rally and Trump paused to let them continue after he said, “obviously and importantly she has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.”

Omar has countered Republican charges that she has made anti-Semitic remarks by saying her criticisms of Israel are based on her concerns over how Palestinians have been treated.

Trump has sided with Netanyahu. The Palestinians should be gone. It would be best if they just disappeared. Trump’s son-in-law’s new peace plan largely ignores them – give them some money so they’ll shut up and go away. Ilhan Omar objects, to this just as almost every other nation in the world does. So it’s Trump and Netanyahu against the world. The new congresswoman is the least of his problems.

And there were the usual objections:

Democrats running for president quickly condemned Trump’s remarks at the rally.

“These members of Congress – children of immigrants, just like so many of us – are an example of exactly what makes America great,” former vice president Joe Biden wrote in a tweet. “So, Mr. President, I am here to tell you this. This is OUR country: The United States of America. You’ll never understand what makes us strong.”

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), another Democratic 2020 contender, wrote on Twitter: “It’s vile. It’s cowardly. It’s xenophobic. It’s racist. It defiles the office of the President. And I won’t share it here. It’s time to get Trump out of office and unite the country.”

But he’s only saying that they despise America because of their criticism of past and current policies. They disagree with Trump. They disagree with America:

“Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!,” he wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

So not only does dissent show you hate this country, even mild disagreement shows that, which moves beyond these four women:

The rest of Trump’s remarks at the rally Wednesday toggled between touting the strong economy as evidence of his success as president and dire warnings about the country’s downfall if put in Democrats’ hands.

A vote for Democrats is a vote for “frankly, the destruction of our country,” Trump told the crowd.

Vote for Democrats and die! Or not:

The four congresswomen have said that Trump’s recent attacks are a reflection of a white nationalist agenda and are intended to distract Democrats from their effort to make policy changes on issues such as health care and climate change.

“I want to tell children across this country that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you and it belongs to everyone,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference Monday, later arguing that Trump was attacking her and her colleagues because he couldn’t win a debate on substance: “Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy.”

Trump, however, knows that no one cares about policy:

Earlier Wednesday, Trump told reporters he was “enjoying” his battle with the four congresswomen and said he believed he was winning the fight politically.

“The four congresswomen, I think they’ve said horrible things. When you look at some of the things they’ve said, they’re unthinkable,” Trump said before boarding Marine One Wednesday. “If somebody else, or me, said something like that it would be historic. You should look at some of the horrible statements because there have never been statements like that.”

They said he was wrong about a few things. No one in Congress has ever said that to or about a president ever before. This has to stop.

This is nuts, but everyone knows that:

A clear majority of Americans say President Trump’s tweets targeting four minority congresswomen were “un-American,” according to a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll. But most Republicans say they agreed with his comments…

More than two-thirds of those who were aware of the controversy – 68% – called Trump’s tweets offensive, but among Republicans alone 57% said they agreed with tweets that told the congresswomen to go back to their “original” countries, and a third “strongly” agreed with them…

Independents by more than 2-1 said his tweets were “un-American.” Three-fourths of the women polled called them offensive.

So this merely fires up the base, but Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog adds this:

Trump can’t possibly fire up his base more than he already has. They’ll crawl through ground glass to vote for him. They’re locked in. He’s wasting energy selling them on a product they’re already 100% certain to buy. It’s not as if he can motivate them to vote for him more than once. But when he plays the race card this way, he motivates independents and women, including some who chose him in 2016, NOT to vote for him.

Trump’s usual mode is barely concealed racism, but the Squad inspired him to dispense with even the tiny bit of deniability in his standard rhetoric. If he keeps up his vendetta against them in this way – or if, perhaps, he’s inspired to go full-on racist against, say, Kamala Harris if she’s on the Democratic ticket – I think he’ll lose.

The Squad may be the foil Trump wants, but what he wants might be the opposite of what he needs.

Ah, but there is his son:

President Trump’s racist tweets are apparently just his defense against an ongoing culture war. At least that’s what Trump’s son Eric Trump suggested in Tuesday appearance on Fox & Friends. After Trump’s attack on four democratic congresswomen led to his official condemnation in the House, Eric Trump claimed “95 percent of this country is behind him” in this message despite polls showing the opposite.

During Tuesday’s Fox & Friends episode, host Brian Kilmeade declared that he “believes calling the president a racist is personally offensive.” Eric Trump then arrived and praised his father for “fighting for American pride and standing up for the national anthem.”

Eric Trump might have been saying that ninety-five percent of America is quite racist so there’s no problem here, or that what everyone calls racism isn’t that at all. It’s just Trumpian Patriotism. There’s a difference that everyone should understand – or that almost everyone actually already understands. Or, alternatively, this might be just bullshit from one of the lesser lights of the family.

Amanda Marcotte tries to explain what seems to be going on here:

Is there any expression of racism that Republicans will actually admit is racism? It’s a question on a lot of progressive minds in the wake of Donald Trump demonizing female congresswomen of color with the “go back” canard that white nationalists and other assorted racists have long used to abuse anyone with heritage they dislike, whether that heritage is Jewish, Irish, Italian, African, Latin American or Muslim. Telling someone to “go back” is, in the ranks of racist statements, right up there with calling a person the N-word or some other rank slur. Yet, there still appears to be resistance among Republicans to admitting that is racism, which leads many on the left to wonder: If this doesn’t count, then what could possibly count?

Actually, nothing counts:

Why are Republicans so resistant to admitting that Trump is a racist and that his words and deeds are frequently racist? Like many debates, this one gets caught up in semantics. The word “racist” necessarily implies beliefs that are inherently irrational and unfair. To be blunt about it, most conservatives do not agree that certain sentiments –  such as insinuating that people of color have less right to call themselves “American” or that people of color owe white people subservience and gratitude – are either irrational or unfair.

On the contrary, what has become clear in recent years is that most conservatives feel like they are hard-headed realists who are being suppressed or attacked by sanctimonious liberals when they try to speak their truth. Trump, with his willingness to air out his beliefs about the superiority of white people, is viewed as a leader in their movement to shake off the shackles of political correctness.

“In your heart, you know he’s right,” reads a popular Trump meme shared by conservatives on Facebook.

That was Barry Goldwater’s campaign slogan in 1964 and he lost to Lyndon Johnson in one of the largest landslides ever, but that hardly matters:

For liberals, this belief is irrational and cruel. Trump supporters, on the other hand, see it as rational and just. So they bristle at the word “racist”, which carries an obvious level of negative judgment. To admit that these beliefs are racist is to admit that they are bad beliefs, and conservatives aren’t willing to do that. Even outright white supremacists often reject the “racist” label, instead calling themselves silly things like “race realists.”

And that plays out in odd ways:

On Tuesday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, clearly thinking he had a great “gotcha” question, asked Republican senatorial candidate and vote-suppression advocate Kris Kobach if he would still vote for Trump if Trump said, “I am a racist.”

Kobach refused to give a straight answer, giving Cuomo the viral clip he desired. But the question itself was inherently misleading. Almost nobody in contemporary America will self-identify as “racist.” Kobach, for instance, is as racist a politician as they come, but he rejects the label. Everyone superficially agrees that “racist” is a bad thing to be – because it signifies irrational prejudice – and Kobach does not think that he or Trump is being irrational when they hint strongly that white people are more deserving of the designation “American” than other people.

And if so, there’s this:

This is why the public debate over the border crisis is so fraught. The issue isn’t really over the facts of the matter, which are that Trump and his administration are targeting asylum seekers with inhumane treatment because almost all asylum seekers (at this historical moment) belong to ethnic groups Trump dislikes. The issue is over whether it’s a bad thing to target people on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Sure, Trump and his allies bristle and deny that they are specifically targeting Latino immigrants. But that act is deliberately half-hearted and insincere. A more holistic look at Trump’s communications to the conservative base makes clear that the actual message being sent is a lot closer to: “Hell yeah, we are targeting brown-skinned people, and we love it.”

And since that’s the “right” thing to do, it can’t be racism, because it’s just realism, even if it looks a lot like racism. Got that?

No one gets that:

This is not a matter of a bunch of confused or stupid people who are bamboozled by Trump and can be gently educated into being better people. For the most part, these are hardened bigots who love what Trump is doing and cannot be shamed or browbeaten out of it. The only realistic option is for the left to out-organize the right and make sure that the majority of Americans, who reject Trump’s agenda, show up to the polls to stop him.

Right, and then the Civil War will finally be over, but that was the War of Northern Aggression too. If one side says what seems to be irrational and cruel is really quite rational and just, and the other side said no, that’s simply irrational and cruel, this war will never end. There’s no way it can end. There’ll be another Trump. There always is.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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