My upcoming newspaper column:
Proctor and Gamble just produced a video that’s become a minor sensation. Showing black parents talking seriously (and heartbreakingly) to their kids about racism they’ve encountered, or will, it’s affecting and real. Surprising as sunrise, right-wingers online and elsewhere are outraged: it’s racist, they scream. Horrifying. Playing the race card. Boycott, boycott, boycott. To them, even to discuss racism is racist. Because there’s no longer any, if there ever was. Rug, sweep under.
The video is racist the same way ones touting heart-healthy diets are coronary-arterist.
When President Obama had the uppityness to talk about race and racism, sometimes very personally, they called him divisive. Most divisive president ever. “Deep seated hatred of white people,” opined an infamous right-wing screamer, locally rooted. No person of color may speak of such things, and, evidently, no Trump supporter will, other than to deny it.
In another unhinged tweetstorm (so much for General Kelly), Trump assured us his base is “bigger and stronger” than ever. (It isn’t, of course.) Look at those rallies I hold for myself, he crows. Actual people show up. Cheering, chanting “Lock her up,” just like when my favorability was above 33%. A few thousand people showering me with love is all the proof I need.
We can learn from this. First, consistent with his and his supporters’ unflagging avoidance of evidence, his need to believe he’s super-popular Trumps reality. Which explains why he holds those unprecedented self-congratulatory and compliment-fishing expeditions. Second, his voting “base” is the sole target for his dishonest rhetoric, which, third, reveals the superficiality of his regard for them. This president doesn’t even pretend to care about other Americans. He knows his zealots and what they want from him, which, to keep them from noticing his true base, he provides. But it’s the very wealthy to whose continued accrual of fortune his economic ideas are aimed, even as they’ll harm his enthralled ralliers.
Thus, his abrupt, counterproductive announcement, widely unpopular except with his base, that transgender people shall no longer serve in our military (he lied that he’d talked it over with “his” generals).
Thus his abrupt, counterproductive, and widely unpopular plan except with his base, to cut legal immigration by fifty percent (he lied that it’s about raising wages for Americans, which it won’t. (For the record, merit-based immigration is worth discussing, and not just because an immigrant Trump wouldn’t meet his own criteria; nor would have a majority of his wives or his mother.)
It’s been a week since the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota. If Trump has had anything to say about it, I missed it. Since his election, incidents of violence against African-Americans, Muslims, LGBT, Jews, Sikhs, have increased significantly. I don’t claim Trumpism has created more racists and omni-haters than there were before his election; only that by his words and non-words, actions and non-actions, he’s made them feel empowered to act on their worst impulses. Patriotically. To the extent that he’s spoken out, it’s been a half-hearted “Stop it.” Like a napping parent to a mildly annoying child.
Spend a minute or two online, see video of Trumpists vilely berating immigrants in public. Comments on those right-wing websites are, literally, sickening. Yes, on some liberal websites comments are disgusting, too. But they’re not aimed at minorities or defenseless people, nor do they repeat the equivalent of Foxolimjonesian lies, or have the equivalent of presidential approval the reddest ones do. Clear as climate change, both sides are not equal. Countenancing this kind of hatred comes from the top of only one.
Now, having confirmed his duping of the basest, Trump moves on to threaten nuclear war, surprising our military and State Department, showing the world’s second most irresponsible leader who’s the more unbalanced. Mine’s bigger than yours, he says, claiming, eight months in, without allocating a dime or building missile one, he’s made our nuclear arsenal more powerful than ever. Trumpists who believe that are more delusional than he is.
Excusing Trump the person, as he appeals to America’s worst instincts, careening between impulse and error, lying to himself and us, wagging war as his approval sinks: at this point, remaining defenders are demonstrating how empty their claims of “values” were, all along.