Posted by Curt on 13 September, 2017 at 5:04 pm. 1 comment.


David French:

Why must conversations about race inevitably devolve to the extreme? Why can’t we address human choices in all their individual complexity? Could it be possible that people have mixed motives, or that the actions of small minorities can’t and don’t define the whole?

These are the questions that come to mind when I encounter identity politics, especially identity politics in the age of Trump. Last week Ta-Nehisi Coates, perhaps the most influential black intellectual in the United States today, wrote an extended essay about Donald Trump — declaring that his ideology isn’t nationalism, conservatism, or even self-interest. It’s “white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power.”

Coates is an adherent of the theory that “race is an idea, not a fact,” and that “essential to the construct of a ‘white race’ is the idea of not being a nigger.” In other words, white people — historically and presently — gain power by defining themselves against the other. Here is Coates’s central contention, that Trump is the white man’s negation of the first black president:

Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent — an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new — the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific — America’s first white president.

This statement — and the entire essay — is being treated as a mic-drop moment. This is the essay that refutes Democrats who urge the party to concentrate less on identity politics. This is the essay that demonstrates the essential and unalterable racism of the Republican party. This is the essay that tells America what is really going on.

Except it’s not. Except it’s wrong. Except one wonders if Coates or the people who rapturously sing his praises know even a single Trump voter or understand what drove many millions to vote for a man who — truth be told — they didn’t much like.

First, let’s deal with a few facts that cloud the narrative. At the moment that Coates wrote his essay, the most popular recent president or presidential candidate in America was . . . Barack Obama. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 51 percent of Americans rated Obama very or somewhat positively, and only 35 percent were very or somewhat negative. Next came George W. Bush with a 45/30 positive rating and then Bernie Sanders at 44/30. Donald Trump was as disliked as Obama is loved, with his rating an upside-down 36/52. Bringing up the rear? Hillary Clinton, the most disliked major politician in America. Only 30 percent of Americans viewed her positively. 53 percent are negative. She’s upside-down by a whopping 23 points.

Indeed, how can anyone write an extended essay about Donald Trump’s victory and not put the nomination of Hillary Clinton in a starring role? For a full quarter-century — since her “co-presidency” with Bill Clinton, through scandal after scandal, and through bald-faced lie after bald-faced lie — Republicans have fought her ascent to power. The single most common Republican retort I faced as a Never Trump conservative had little to do with Obama and everything to do with Trump’s actual opponent. “You mean, you want Hillary Clinton to be president?” (I did not. I supported neither unfit major party candidate.)

Too many Democrats have yet to fully grasp what they did. They suffer from the understandable human urge to place themselves on the side of the angels. In their narrative, they nominated the “most qualified candidate in history,” and she lost to a foaming-at-the-mouth racist and sexist, in large part because so many millions of Americans are racist and sexist themselves.

In reality, however, they nominated a liar. They nominated a person who helped run a vast pay-to-play operation concealed behind a charitable foundation. They selected a person who lived by her own rules and was so careless with classified information that she would have been stripped of her security clearance, discharged from the military, and possibly imprisoned if her title had been merely “Captain Clinton” instead of “Secretary Clinton.” None of Trump’s flaws change these realities. None of Trump’s flaws make her likable, honest, or competent.

It’s also puzzling for Coates to racialize Obama’s policies. Is he seriously suggesting that had Clinton won in 2008 that Republicans wouldn’t have ferociously opposed HillaryCare, Hillary’s climate accords, or Hillary’s justice reforms? Does he not recall the Clinton administration, when opposition to HillaryCare helped the GOP win the House? Does he not remember the Obama administration, when Republicans hooted at Hillary’s “reset button” and called for her to resign after the Benghazi disaster?

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x