Jesse Taylor is pissed off about The Worst Thing You Can Say To A Person In Americam
And by “person”, I obviously mean “white guy”
Aaron Goldstein, you see, has argued that, though Trump is a buffoon, suggesting he’s race baiting is somehow out of bounds.
Yet calling Trump a racial provocateur is a sure sign of intellectual laziness and descends the depths of disingenuousness. Trump has been a prominent public figure for decades. If he bore racial animus it would showed itself long ago. As misguided as Trump was to focus his attention on Obama’s birth certificate, liberals are making the mistake of assuming that his criticism of President Obama is motivated solely by race.
Jesse Taylor is having none of that:
Nobody is saying that Donald Trump is motivated solely by race. He’s also motivated by being an overly ambitious, attention-seeking bastard, by the body of slavering lunatics that make up a significant portion of the Republican base, and by the fact that he keeps getting nuzzled behind the ears and told to do the trick over again by reporters.
But yeah, a huge part of the motivation behind Trump’s birtherism is race….
What makes me think that Trump is either directly racist or presuming racism on the part of his audience are his demands for Obama’s college records….
I’m with Jesse; I’m unable to see any plausible explanation for Trump both piling onto birtherism after Obama’s birth in Hawaii had already long since been amply attested and verified and also Making Stuff Up about how the president of the Harvard Law Review couldn’t possibly have been a good enough student to get into Columbia and Harvard on his own merits, that doesn’t involve race baiting.
For the record, I have a friend who went to high school with Obama, and, do you know what the one thing is that she remembers about him? His brains. The way he was taking, as a junior, the honors physics class that she was struggling through as a senior. But you didn’t need my friend of a friend account to know that about him; his whole record says that, whatever else you think of him, he’s one smart guy. Even if you disagree with his politics, you should be able to see that, just as even people who loathe Nixon’s politics acknowledge that the guy had brains.
And, yes, I take this kind of crap personally; if you’re convinced that Obama couldn’t possibly have made it through the Ivy League without some special affirmative action accomodation to his presumably lesser intelligence, I’m inclined to believe you’ll be thinking the same thing about my friends and family. One of my college exes graduated from Stanford and went on to Juilliard, where he was recognized as Most Outstanding Theater Student the year he graduated (and went on from there to a career few could match). If you think Obama can’t possibly have managed Columbia, Harvard, and president of the Harvard Law Review on his own merits, why shouldn’t I expect you might think the same of my ex, whom I damn well know to have earned his way? Why not the same about my college friends George, Brenda, Cyndi, Sharon, and Donna, every darn one of whom showed that he or she belonged at Stanford just as much as I did? And why not the same about my own nephews and nieces, when they venture out in the world, and sometimes, on their own merits, get into a school or get a job that a white person doesn’t get?
But the other thing I’ve realized, since Obama has become president, as I’ve watched the occasional back and forth about which attacks on him are or aren’t racist, is that I do have my own version of “the worst thing you can say,” and it isn’t “racist.”
I don’t, of course, mean that I don’t find racism an awful thing to be accused of. I do, naturally. On the occasions when someone has suggested I might be expressing some racial bias, or even some racial blind spot, I’ve felt as hurt and defensive as anyone. But the thing is, I see racism as a painful accusation in the same way in which I see “You’re cheating on your spouse” as a painful accusation. By which I mean, something that’s deeply hurtful, but not especially rare. I don’t assume that “Trump has been a prominent public figure for decades” guarantees that he’ll never come out expressing some deep prejudice I never knew he had (hello, Mel Gibson) any more than I assume that every guy who has been a prominent public figure and an apparently devoted and faithful husband actually is faithful. Obviously, I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that someone is cheating on his or her spouse, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt when others suspect them about that, but not a benefit of the doubt that assumes that anyone who suspects another of cheating is obviously lying. And I do assume that, just as keeping your marriage vows involves a certain amount of conscious attention, so too does resisting our common tendency to suspicion of the Other, and the cultural messages that may lead us to put particular groups of people in that Other category. And so, even in those cases where I don’t see enough to merit someone’s charge of racism, I’m more likely to see that charge as an understandable oversensitivity than one that “descends the depths of disingenuousness.”
But there is a thing you can say about another person, that will nearly always leave me convinced that you’ve proven yourself the one not to be listened to. Something that has the same emotional resonance, for me, of “descending the depths of disingenuousness” that charges of racism seem to have for Goldstein. And that thing is the suggestion, without evidence, that someone’s somehow less of an American that you are.
I don’t mean just the crap that’s been flung at Obama, the nonsense of disbelieving his birth certificate and the newspaper notices, because somehow it’s more plausible that his white grandparents would fly their 18-year-old daughter away from US medical care to have their first grandchild abroad, and meanwhile carefully plant newspaper notices to preserve a record for later of his being born in the US, or Huckabee’s “Mau Mau” reference (I thought better of you than that, Huckabee). I also mean something of longer standing. I mean that, when I read the transcript of the hearing at which Welch made his “Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?” remark to Joe McCarthy, the reason that remark resonates is that I see McCarthy making insinuations about Fred Fisher’s loyalty as an American because of his brief youthful membership in the Lawyer’s Guild. I mean that every time I think I hear a suggestion that someone doesn’t feel about America the way we do, or that some subset of America is somehow more real America than another, the hair on the back of my neck goes up. And I mean that, if you suggest that someone else is a less loyal American than you, and you don’t damn well prove it, I’m going to permanently think less well of you, not the person you’ve accused.
I’m coming to feel that some other people are way less sensitive than I am to false suggestions that someone’s less American, or less loyally American, than the rest of us, and way more sensitive than I am to possibly false suggestions that someone bears more racial animus than most people.