This is the third post in, loosely, a series, as I try to process the election on Donald Trump and what I consider to be he most dangerous and fragile state
Earlier in the year I saw Newt Gangrich being interviewed and he kept talking about rising violent crime, and the reporter challenged him by pointing out that violent crime rates across the country have actually dropped during the Obama administration, and Newt countered with, “But people feel less safe.” And he stuck by that, repeating it more than once in the interview. Answering actual facts only with subjective feelings, but asserted as if they were of equal importance.
Much more recently, President-elect Trump claimed (with no evidence at all – i.e. incorrectly!) that there were millions of cases of voter fraud. (There were 4 confirmed cases.) Mike Pence went on TV and defended Trump’s baseless claim (i.e. lie!) by saying, “He’s entitled to his opinion.” He said that three times in the interview, and I just wanted the reporter to scream at him, “OPINIONS ARE NOT FACTS!” An opinion is like, “Mushrooms are gross,” not, “Millions of people committed voter fraud.” But the mainstream media is so obsessed with “neutrality” (over factual accuracy) that they have created these nightmares of false equivalences where opinions, tastes, internet conspiracy theories (fucking Pizzagate!!), and baseless claims are put on the same level as actual, provable facts. So still today 60% of Trump voters believe Obama is a Muslim even though there is literally no evidence supporting this ridiculous claim… at the same time, more than that number denies man-made climate change even though there is a fucking mountain of evidence.
You probably heard about the pro-Trump, white nationalists rally in DC at which the audience railed against the “Lügenpresse.” That’s an old Nazi term meaning, “Lying press.” The Nazis were (also) always railing against the “lying press” b/c fascism can’t tolerate reality. Their whole system is built upon a heap of lies, distortions and nutty conspiracy theories, so part of the trick of fascism is to attack the press as liars and facts as “your opinion.” This is why one of my favorite sayings of late has been, “Reality has a liberal bias.”
TYT Network posted an extended interview with a white supremacist organizer. He was very articulate and had clearly thought long and hard about his answers… but at some point, of course, his views all break down for obvious reasons. Watching it, the third false equivalence of the Trump-right became obvious: white Christians (mostly men) feeling victimized and oppressed by liberal “political correctness” – acting like us asking them not to be a bigot is the same as them taking away the rights of LGBTQs, blacks, Muslims, and other minorities.
Newsflash: Canceling Duck Dynasty because the stars are homophobic bigots is not equivalent to denying same-sex couples the right to marriage. Nobody has a special right to star in a TV show, but all consenting adults do have the right to get married… or rent an apartment, or be served in a restaurant, or use a public bathroom. LGBTQ people aren’t asking for special, extra rights; we are only asking to have the same rights straight people have.
I think I first really noticed this trend with Kim Davis, that obnoxious bitch who, as a Court Clerk, refused to sign off on same-sex marriages because (she claimed) it was against her religion. You had all these asshole Christens (and, no, I don’t think all Christians are assholes) rally around her claming that us asking the not to impose on our rights and pleas treat us as equal was somehow us oppressing them and us discriminating against them… you know, by removing their power to discriminate against others. This was so insane – and yet this warped resentment, this sense that the white, Christian, patriarchal majority is somehow being oppressed and having their rights trampled on simply by us asking them not to trample on others and treat others as equals, this resentment became, it seems to me, the energy driving the engine of the Trump machine.
In “What Was the Nerd? The myth of the bullied white outcast loner is helping fuel a fascist resurgence,” Willie Osterweil lays out this argument: “Today’s American fascist youth is neither the strapping Aryan jock-patriot nor the skinheaded, jackbooted punk: The fascist millennial is a pasty nerd watching shitty meme videos on YouTube, listening to EDM, and harassing black women on Twitter. Self-styled “nerds” are the core youth vanguard of crypto-populist fascist movements… The myth of nerd oppression let every slightly socially awkward white boy who likes sci-fi lay his ressentiment at the feet of the nearest women and people of color… The Gamergate movement… engaged in widespread coordinated harassment of women and queer people in the gaming world in a direct attempt to purge non-white-male and non-right-wing voices, all the while claiming they were the actual victims...”
So this is the third big false equivalence coming from the Trump-right. You have these groups (whites, men, Christians) who have been on top for a long time and now they are pissed off at being asked to let others (blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ, Latino, women) be on equal footing with them… and they twist it around so that THEY feel victimized. And I think this lies at the hart of the Right’s hatred for “political correctness” – which to them is some kind of oppressive infringement on their rights, and to us simply means, “Hey, don’t be a dick to people, okay?” Someone points out to you that it’s not cool to make fun of disabled people or use the n-word, and you respond like you are the one being victimized!?
These two things are not equivalent! If someone with more power and more privilege punches down on you or oppresses you or denies you the same rights and freedoms they enjoy then you are being victimized. If someone with less power, privilege and clout than you demands that you stop victimizing them, that does not make you a victim! You do not get to feel righteous anger at not being able to punch down on people; people getting punched down upon do get to feel righteous anger at you for bullying and oppressing them. Because the oppression you (white, Christian, straight man) feel is in your head (“War on Christmas!?” Seriously?) While the oppression and bullying and double-standard experienced by African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and even the female half of the population) exists in actual reality.