A person I know recently emptied perhaps the entire contents of his brain on social media: “I like that Trump supporters wear those red hats – it makes it easier to know who the racists are.”
It never fails that those most likely to feel pride about their ability to nuance complex issues, have generally six answers to every happening: racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, nativism, and of course, echoes of Nazism.
But you sense that these six explanations for all American ills are starting to fray.
The first sign that this worldview is beginning to lack suasion is the weird stats they seem to come up with to justify their beliefs. Be it the voodoo of “wage gap” statistics, or the “1 in 4” women raped on college campuses. It is also spotted in the strange omission of findings that gainsay their ideology, such as the fact that 87% of Americans approve of interracial marriage (it was only 4% in 1958). Or that hate crimes against Jews are greater than hate crimes against Muslims, according to the FBI.
The second, is the overlooking of facts that would undermine the way they feel bigotry stories should play out. For instance, in the tragic death of Freddie Gray, the reality that most of the people in power in Baltimore are African-American as well as half of the cops accused of killing Mr. Gray – is just not mentioned. Nor is it mentioned that the city is left-wing and mostly Democrat and has been for years. Likewise the forensic evidence in the case of police officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO suddenly doesn’t mean anything (the analysis and testimony clearly shows Wilson to have acted legally). The Right may deny climate change for political reasons, but the Left has its own forms of scientific denial also.
A third proof of their grasping to maintain antiquated worldviews, is the invention of new, expanded rubrics of oppressor and victim so as to keep such certain “narratives” alive.
George Zimmerman, the man who slew the seventeen year old African-American Trayvon Martin, was labeled a “white-Hispanic,” not merely Hispanic. This kept the ‘white racist hunting young black men’ myth on life support; of course, do not expect Obama to be called a white-African-American, and don’t expect current half-white Hispanic people to start labeling themselves as such on college applications. (What if Zimmerman had been a Juarez? Would the story have garnered national attention?)
Fourth, like the neoteric rubrics, is the enlargement of definitions. Rape can now mean merely regretting a drunken tryst – that’s how you maintain the existence of virulent sexism when it is mostly extinct – you increase the meaning of crime to the subjective realm. If a girl feels she was raped, she was according to some on the left (isn’t that an insult to women who were truly and violently raped and sexually assaulted?). “Thug,” “cool,” “articulate,” and “hoodie” now are supposedly code for a secret desire to use the n-word. Never mind white people routinely call bikers and mafia guys and soccer hooligans thugs and it is surprising when someone who appears, by their dress, to have chosen the life of a outlaw speaks proper English – no matter the color.
Finally, note the hysteria over possibly real, but certainly minor, instances of prejudice. Things like racism in the Oscars, catcalling, manspreading, or micro-aggressions as well as the Sherlock Holmes like attention to one’s use of words like “retard,” “socialist,” “bossy,” “Muslim” (without a qualifier), “Mexican” (without a qualifier), “illegal alien,” and so on. They are always looking for clues that will reveal unconscious discrimination. They believe that the racism and sexism doesn’t go away, it just slips under the conscious mind.
In short, it seems they are scraping the very bottom of the pint of victimhood, getting whatever flakes that are left. Making things up or exaggerating if they have to. Racism, sexism, etc. exist. But – and this is my point – they do not explain everything the Right wing does, does not explain their psychology, does not explain their political motivations. Thinking has been replaced by this categorizing.
Indeed, this default processing system is precisely why the popularity of Donald Trump is so baffling to many intelligent people. America’s entire education has trained their minds to make them seek out anything even remotely similar to civil rights abuses of the past. Each bit of news that comes to them is first juxtaposed to Nazism, their little bit of knowledge of Fascism, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow, the slave trade, Vietnam, Native American genocide, pre 19th Amendment society, and the Stonewall Inn. They literally have no other means of expression other than the tired cliches of prejudice to talk of Trump and his followers. “It must be,” they say, “his racism, sexism, nativism, and Islamophobia” that accounts for his popularity.
There are certainly true bigots at Trump’s rallies (and those numbers may be growing), but to stereotype all of his followers as such, is rather dull, lazy, and actually a terrible thing to say about one’s fellow Americans.
So why do some ordinary (read non-bigoted) Americans overlook Trump’s lack of religious faith, crudity, political nescience, and still support the man?
They love him because he seems to love America. That’s ninety-nine percent it. Forget all the polls you read, all the pseudo-psychologists speaking about bad economic times, fear that white people have of becoming a minority, hatred of colored people. It’s all mostly nonsense.
Trump supporters like the man because he seems to proudly love the nation they adore, a nation they feel has been beaten up far too much and too frequently, and not always for good reasons.
And what is more, I think they have a point.
Everyday since the 1960s, there has been an assault on the character of the United States. Hollywood, academia, and the media – if they have an option – always seem to bend toward America bashing. Sometimes outright, sometimes subtle.
If you are not a conservative, you probably don’t even see it. A rule of thumb is that conservatives acknowledge America’s errors, and harp on its greatness; liberals harps on America’s errors, and acknowledge its greatness. If you are a conservative you are therefore considered to have a myopic historical memory, and to be blindly chauvinistic.
Those who comment on political affairs in the national media are mostly Left wing. They really can’t feel the passion that some people have for this country. The iniquities of the nation are nested in their pre-frontal cortexes, ready to intrude on any comment about American society.
But for every Liberal who laughs at Jon Stewart’s snarky, “‘Merica,” a lot of Americans aren’t laughing. And they are sick of being told they live in an evil country. Sick of Michael Moore, sick of CNN, sick of MSNBC, sick of college professors, sick of know-nothing celebrities, and sick of journalists who denigrate America. The incessant talk of America’s past sins and never a heart-felt panegyric about the land of the brave, has them roiled.
Talk to them – they are genuinely irate that America is blamed, in some way, for Islamic radicalism. While the war in Iraq may have made an unstable region more unstable, they say, it certainly didn’t make people behead little kids, enslave women, and slaughter to extinction minorities. They hate that America is “given more shit for water-boarding the worst people on earth than those bastards are for blowing up bus loads of innocent kids” as one Trump supporter told me.
This feeling of ubiquitous and unfounded anti-Americanism is also why they hate Occupy Wall Street, hate Black Lives Matter, hate the ACLU, hate Obama. Obama, to them, seems like he’s just not that into America – they could give a damn about his skin color. If Obama was conservative and pro-American, they’d love him. It’s not that he’s black. Again, talk to regular Trump supporters, not just the nut-jobs they quote and put on CNN.
Trump is unabashedly pro-American. There will be no penitence tour with Trump, no apology for America’s superiority. There will be no knee-jerk listing of American’s sins when Islamophobia is brought up. His followers love this.
And it’s not immigration. It’s that the immigrants, in their eyes, seem to also be somewhat anti-American. People who assume that Mexicans are loathed because they are “brown” are dead wrong. And they ignore all the places around the world, and historically, in which people of the same color despised immigrants of the same color. Consider how the Irish were treated by their fellow whites in New York City a century ago.
And no, they don’t feel they are nationalistic, they feel patriotic.
Thus, the pushback against politically correct culture is not exactly why Trump is winning. It’s the anti-America culture, which political correctness is but a facet of, that makes Trump surge.
The journalists, rock and movie stars, and professors who find Trump disgusting are actually the very reason he thrives. It is their ubiquitous seemingly anti-American position on nearly all matters that has guaranteed Trump’s success.
Another proof that it is Trump’s pro-American stance that makes him appealing to conservatives is that he’s not even very conservative. Indeed, so starved for a feeling of patriotism they seem willing to take anything that even remotely reminds them of it.
In sum, I would never vote for Trump, I don’t trust him – especially I don’t like the oafish henchmen around him. But it’s clear to me why some ordinary people – yes, even people without a racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, nativistic, or Nazi atom within their bodies – find his candidacy attractive.