Monday, December 5, 2016
You Might Just Be Stupid (or Burn It All Down)
In the last few weeks, I've heard a lot of Trump supporters attempting to defend their vote for Trump and explain how it is that they did not cast a vote for racism (and sexism). Some of these have been declarations online (whether they were blog posts, articles, editorials); some have been actual conversations I've had with people. After listening to some very blatantly racist things being said (the least of which was repeatedly referring to President Obama as "Osama") followed by the statement "I don't see how that's racist," I've come to the conclusion that racism may not have been the only reason people voted for Trump... but I'm not sure the alternative is better.
Let's look at the three reasons (or kinds of people) people voted for Trump:
1. Overt racism: You can't deny that Trump's campaign didn't promote and encourage racism. All of the racist termites crawled out of the woodwork during Trump's run for the Presidency, and, now that he's won, they don't plan on crawling back in. Participation in White Supremacy groups is spiking upwards as are race-based and hate crimes. These people feel like this is their time, their time to "make America great again" by putting minorities back in their place. Just to point out, these people, also, do not claim to be racist, not even someone like David Duke, former leader of the KKK, CLAIMS to be racist. People don't label themselves "racist" just like they don't label themselves "asshole," no matter how apparent it is to everyone else.
2. Inherent racism: This is where most of Trump supporters lie, and they don't call themselves racists because they don't fall into the first category, though, as I said, even the people in the first category don't call themselves racist, so it's rather a moot point, but it is why people are so upset about suddenly being on Team Racism. If I woke up on Team Racism one day, I would be upset, too. Of course, I would also immediately do everything I could to get off of Team Racism, which none of these people seem to be doing. Rather, they are defending their stance of being on Team Racism by saying, "Yes, I want to play on Team Racism, but I am not a racist." Sorry, it just doesn't work that way.
Which is not to say that I don't understand the logic. No, really, I get it. Trump said he would give you A, B, and C, all things category two desperately want, but he said he was going to give you those things by being racist and misogynistic to the point of persecuting certain peoples and, yet, you said, "Okay, I'm willing to leave with that." That, my friend, is RACIST. This is the equivalent of me offering you a piece of the best chocolate cake ever BUT, every time you take a bite, I'm going to punch a black person in the face. You think to yourself, "Well, I would never do that, never punch a black person in the face so that I can have cake, but I'm not going to do it, and I really want that cake...," so you tell me to go ahead and let you have the cake and you don't really want me to punch the black person but you're willing to allow it so that you can have cake. Of course, the black person doesn't have cake or even enough normal, healthy food to eat (which you do), so it's adding injury to insult as you agree to allow him to be punched in the face so that you can have cake.
IT'S RACISM. Because the message there is that you having cake is worth more than the well being of these other people, and it's worth more BECAUSE YOU'RE WHITE.
But, still, you're not racist.
Of course, the joke is on you, because Trump isn't going to give you any cake. He and his rich buddies are going to eat all the cake while also punching black people and brown people and gay people... well, anyone who isn't white and male... in the face.
Let me give you a real, concrete example of this kind of thing (and you can read the whole story here and here (actually, that's just a part of the story, but it's the most essential part)):
When I was in my early 20s, the church I grew up in was finding itself in financial difficulty due to the aging out of the congregation and the church's inability to draw in a younger crowd. This inability to draw in a younger crowd was directly related to its unwillingness to allow people of color into its congregation of old white people. My church, itself, wasn't a young church; it was somewhere around 80 years old. Many of the elderly members of the congregation had spent their entire lives being members of that church.
Now, you would think (or, at least, I would think), that when you had built something up over that length of time, you would want it to continue on. You would want it continue to grow and persevere through hardship. However, when the aging white congregation came to the point of conflict over whether the church should continue by being welcoming to (mostly black) persons of color in the neighborhood or whether they should just destroy it all and go somewhere else, they chose to destroy it all and go somewhere else. I call this the "burn it all down" option.
It reminds me of that episode of The Jeffersons when George gives CPR to a white guy and saves his life only to have the white man tell him that he would rather have died than be saved by a black man.
The vote for Trump was a "burn it all down" vote. It's the vote that says, "I would rather destroy the USA than share it equally with people of color and women and people of non-normative orientations." It's the vote that says, "White people, specifically men, should be on top, and I'm willing to sacrifice everyone else to see that that happens."
So, yes, a vote for Trump was a vote to join Team Racism.
However, there is a third category:
3. Blatant stupidity: Sorry, I don't know any other way to say that. Initially, I didn't think anyone was THAT stupid, but I've talked to a few people who are completely convinced that Trump just says things because he has no "tact," but he doesn't really mean the horrible things he says. Basically, he's just thinking out loud but he would never really do any of the things he says he will. Which, you know, boggles the mind on how you could then believe he would do any of the "good" things he says, but that's some mental manipulation that I can't quite wrap my head around. The short of all this being that maybe there are some people who legitimately believe that Trump is not a racist asshole and just says stupid shit. I suppose those people could have voted for Trump for reasons that don't include inherent racism BUT that makes them blatantly stupid, people who bought into the lies of a conman. And, you know, even smart people get conned sometimes, but Trump isn't even very good at it, so anyone of fairly normal intelligence should have seen the con for what it was: Trump getting to have his cake and eat it, too, and getting to have your cake and eat that, too.
[Frequently, these people also cannot understand how the racists things they say can be considered racist. Sometimes, this is willful or ignorance (or just denial) but, maybe, some of these people really don't understand, cannot understand, how offensive their language is. This plays into the stupidity.]
So, you know, if you're one of those people out there claiming, "I'm not racist!" feel free to lump yourself into category three. I won't argue with you about it.