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“Trump And The Myth Of Superiority”: It’s The Lowest Part Of Who We Are, This Need To Find Someone Else To Put Down

There are many reasons to recommend Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” but this is not a book review, so I offer this single, searing paragraph:

“I have said before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.”

Could there be a more perfect description of that failed human strategy? If we feel good about ourselves only by comparison, we are forever on the hunt, setting our sights on innocent others so that we can stomach who we’ve become.

“So what?” one might ask. If this game of mental gymnastics is an interior job — if we keep our darkest motives to ourselves — what harm comes of this way of thinking?

Well, there’s this: When storing our insecurities, the mind is the worst place to stock the shelves. Eventually, the monster festering and growing in the dark demands its freedom — or, in the case of the Republican presidential race, an audience.

This week Sarah Palin, who refuses to go away, endorsed Donald Trump, who insists he is here to stay. The public response was rapid and, many would say, often hilarious. Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote a piece for The New Yorker titled “Palin Endorsement Widens Trump Lead Among Idiots.” The New York Daily News‘ cover headline: “I’M WITH STUPID! Hate minds think alike: Palin endorses Trump.”

A few months ago, I would have snickered along and maybe shared links to this coverage on Facebook, but these past few months of relentless Trump coverage have changed me. To laugh is to play along with this notion of my superiority, and I don’t like that version of myself. I was raised to be better than this.

Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters — white, working-class males who fear they are on the brink of extinction — are the same Americans who would suffer most if he were the Republican nominee and could continue this farce of a campaign to Election Day. These are the people I come from. I have reached the point where I am more worried for them than embarrassed by their choice of candidate. I’m not proud of either sentiment.

It is perhaps the most depressing fact of this current primary campaign that Donald Trump’s extremism — so much of which swirls around his assertions of superiority — has fueled his momentum. Every speech is one long brag-fest about his fictional superiority, not just to other candidates but also to a growing list of entire groups of people: Mexicans and Muslims, women and black people — and now members of the media, too, who dare to defy his coverage directives. He mocks them, all of them. The more he bellows and belittles, the louder his crowds roar.

And now he has been joined by Sarah Palin, who resigned her job as Alaska’s governor to pursue her hobby of willfully uninformed trolling in the arena of public discourse. During her endorsement speech for Donald Trump, she made up a new word — “squirmishes” — to describe the complexities of the violence in the Middle East:

“And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil-rich. We’re paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries, where they’re fighting each other and yelling ‘Allahu akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.”

And this, comparing Trump to President Barack Obama: “And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, ‘No, America would apologize as part of the deal,’ as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, ‘Thank you, enemy.’”

Thanks (I think) to The New York Times‘ Michael Barbaro for transcribing those chunks of Palin’s ranting.

Most major news organizations in the country sent out breaking news alerts when she announced that she was endorsing Trump. Think about that, but whatever you do, don’t dwell on it. No good comes of it, I can tell you.

There was a time when too many of us saw Trump’s climb in the polls as so temporary, and evidence of our superiority. Look how stupid those people are, we said, chuckling.
Who’s laughing now?

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist; The National Memo, January 21, 2016

January 23, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“White Supremacists Are Glad Boehner’s Leaving”: Didn’t Focus Enough On “The Replacement Of Whites By Non-Whites”

White supremacist leaders took to social media to celebrate the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner on Friday morning,  a “cuckservative” whose tenure didn’t focus enough on “the replacement of whites by non-whites through immigration and higher birthrates.”

And one prominent white supremacist consider it a big loss for a Republican establishment they believe is “outmoded”—and an even bigger win for the appeal of “instinctive, unconscious (for) white Americans” they say Donald Trump provides.

“Whites are objectively more useful to the country than blacks or Hispanics in terms of crime rates, welfare dependency, labor-force productivity, etc.  This is obviously true but everyone is too terrified to say so,” Jared Taylor, the President of the New Century Foundation, told The Daily Beast.

“Mr. Boehner never talked about these things, but he should have. “

The New Century Foundation is a self-described “white separatist” organization, which publishes a journal a “race realism” journal called American Renaissance. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “most would describe (Taylor) as crudely white supremacist.”

Taylor believes the “replacement of whites by non-whites” is “the greatest long-term threat to conservatives.”

“Non-whites are like hens’ teeth in the Republican Party, but Republicans are too stupid to realize that an increasingly non-white America will be increasingly hostile to everything they claim to care about,” he said.

“The irony is that nothing conservatives profess to love will survive without whites.”

Many white supremacists pointed to what they perceived to be Boehner’s “weakness” on immigration, and his unwillingness to join those in his party that are insistent on building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

They believe the Speaker’s border policy makes him a textbook “cuckservative,” which, as The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis defined the term, is a “newfangled slur that combines the word ‘cuckold’ (which has both sexual and racial overtones) with the word ‘conservative.’”

“Boehner is generally weak on the immigration question. Thus, he’s lost his base of power,” said Richard B. Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, a white separatist think tank. In the past, Spencer has argued for a “new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans.“

“White Americans recognize (in an instinctive, unarticulated way) that taxes and budgets are meaningless in the face of White dispossession. It’s only issues of immigration and demographics that really matter,” he told The Daily Beast.

That’s why, Spencer believes, Donald Trump is gaining in the polls among those who share his beliefs.

“Today, the Republican Party is haunted by the specter of White dispossession and ethno-politics,” he said. “This is what the Trump phenomenon is really about, and this is why Trump is loathed by establishment conservatives (FOX, the GOP, the ‘conservative movement’) and why he appeals—on an instinctive, unconscious level—to White Americans.”

Jason Jones, who runs the Twitter account “End Cultural Marxism,” also intimated that Boehner wasn’t conservative enough for him and his 17,000-plus followers on social media.

“Boehner is a pro-immigration cuckservative. (I’m) glad he’s resigning. Both legal and illegal immigration are driving down American wages. It’s the No. 1 issue of our age,” said Jones.

When asked if he agreed with a fellow white supremacist, who wrote that Boehner “served his own special anti-White purpose,” he replied “yes.” Jones had retweeted the quote.

“European-descended people (whites) have interests too. Boehner did not represent our interests,” said Jones.

By midday, however, white supremacists like Taylor and Spencer had already resigned themselves to a new House Speaker who likely won’t speak for their values.

“Diversity is a source of conflict, not a strength. The idea that diversity is a strength is so obviously stupid that only very smart people can convince themselves of it,” said Taylor. “His replacement should talk about (these issues), but we can be certain that he will not.”

Spencer is equally disillusioned with those rumored to be the next Speaker—like Reps. Kevin McCarthy or Paul Ryan. But he says he sees a bright future for sect of white separatists like him that he believes to be burgeoning within the GOP.

“I’m not particularly impressed with the putatively more ‘conservative’ Republicans who are in position to take Boehner’s place. Indeed, they seem just as much products of the past as the current Speaker,” said Spencer. “In the end, politics is a lagging indicator of social change. And the Right of the future is just now taking shape.”

 

By: Ben Carson, The Daily Beast, September 25, 2015

September 28, 2015 Posted by | Immigrants, John Boehner, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rachel Dolezal’s ‘Passing’ Isn’t So Unusual”: A Product of Our Own Contradictory Moment

Why do we care so much about Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. who apparently misrepresented herself as African-American when, according to her parents, she is Czech, Swedish and German, with some remote Native American ancestry?

In one sense, it’s not at all surprising. Stories of white Americans “passing” as members of other racial and ethnic groups have often captivated the American public — though the cases that have most fascinated us have usually turned on the malicious hypocrisy of the protagonists. In 1965, The Times famously reported that Dan Burros, the Ku Klux Klan’s Grand Dragon in New York State and the former national secretary of the American Nazi Party, was once a Jew who not only was a “star” bar mitzvah student at his shul in Queens but also brought knishes to white-supremacist gatherings. In 1991, an Emory University professor drew headlines by unmasking Forrest Carter, the author of a best-selling Native American “memoir,” as Asa Earl Carter, an Alabama Klansman and a speechwriter for George Wallace, the state’s segregationist governor.

But nowhere in the details that reporters and Internet sleuths have uncovered about Dolezal is there any inkling of personal commitment to white supremacy; her work with the N.A.A.C.P., now finished, and as a professor of Africana studies suggests quite the opposite. Her story spins at a far lower orbit of oddity than the trajectories of Burros and Carter, yet she is attracting a similar level of attention. More puzzling still, her case has gone viral at a moment when we are learning that Rachel Dolezals have been much more common in this country’s history than we once might have thought.

The history of people breaching social divides and fashioning identities for themselves is as old as America. These stories were never exclusively about blacks who “passed” for white or Jews who, as my grandparents would say, “got over it” and found their way to the Episcopalian side of the ledger — people who felt compelled to shed their birth identities to reap the full rewards of white privilege. From the beginning of the American experience, the color line bent and broke in many directions, and for many reasons.

In 17th-century Virginia, as the genealogist Paul Heinegg has documented, most of the first free families of color descended from white women who had children with slaves or free black men. Because a 1662 Virginia law classified people as “bond or free only according to the condition of the mother,” the status of these families depended on the women’s affirming their whiteness as an official matter. But in everyday life, white mothers of black children were creating new ways for their families and themselves to parse slavery, freedom and race, akin to James McBride’s account in his memoir, “The Color of Water,” of how his mother described her own identity while raising 12 African-American children. When McBride asked her about her parents, she would respond, “God made me.” When he asked if she was white, her answer was, “I’m light-skinned.”

Over time, as racial categories ossified and state legislatures criminalized interracial sex and marriage — an idea that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1960s — people continued to define themselves outside the law’s oppressive reach. White people who fell in love with African-Americans could avoid sanction if they asserted that they, too, were black. In 1819, a Scottish immigrant named James Flint described witnessing a black man’s attempt to marry a white woman near Jeffersonville, Ind., just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky. The local justice of the peace refused to marry them, citing a legal prohibition, but then had second thoughts, suggesting, Flint wrote, “that if the woman could be qualified to swear that there was black blood in her, the law would not apply.” In a scene anticipating “Showboat” by a hundred years, the groom promptly took a lancet to his arm, and according to Flint, “the loving bride drank the blood, made the necessary oath and his honour joined their hands” and married them.

White people have claimed African-American identity across time, region and class. The historian Martha Sandweiss has documented the case of Clarence King, a celebrated explorer from an elite Newport, R.I., family who could trace his ancestry back to three signers of the Magna Carta. At the end of the 19th century, he led a double life as James Todd, a black Pullman porter whose wife was born a slave. It is not hard to find other examples, all the way up to the present.

This kind of “reverse passing” could occur because the gap between America’s rigid insistence on racial purity and the reality of pervasive mixing left a conceptual blur instead of any defensible boundary between black and white. American history is a history of dark-skinned white people and light-skinned black people. Innumerable men and women explained away their complexions with stories of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and, in an 1874 Tennessee court case, Carthaginian ancestry. More whites have claimed Cherokee grandmothers than is demographically possible.

Conversely, for John Hope, the first African-American president of Morehouse College and Atlanta University; John Ladeveze, who helped bring the first challenge to segregated education after Plessy v. Ferguson; Charles Chesnutt, the acclaimed early twentieth-century African-American novelist; or the longtime N.A.A.C.P. head Walter White, it was a routine part of life to insist that you were black despite all indications to the contrary. In 1871, Charles Sauvinet, sheriff of Orleans Parish during Reconstruction, sued the owner of a bar for refusing him service because of his race. In court, Sauvinet’s fair complexion prompted a lawyer to ask on cross-examination something very similar to a Spokane TV news reporter’s question — “Are you African-American?” — that so flustered Dolezal. Sauvinet’s answer speaks volumes about the complexity of American racial experience. “Whether I am a colored man or not is a matter that I do not know myself,” Sauvinet said. “But I am, and was legally, for this reason: that . . . you had always refused me, though born and raised here, the rights of citizenship.”

In a sense, the controversy surrounding Dolezal is a product of our own contradictory moment, when Americans are at once far more open to racial boundary-crossing and as preoccupied with those same boundaries as ever. Part of what’s striking about Dolezal’s self-constructed identity is how anachronistic it appears in 2015 — more the stuff of fiction, as in the over-the-top plot conceit of Nell Zink’s “Mislaid,’’ than reality. There seems to be little reason that Dolezal would have needed to identify as black to live the life she has led. After all, white people can form meaningful relationships with African-Americans, study, teach and celebrate black history and culture and fight discrimination without claiming to be African-American themselves. Dolezal was pale with straight blond hair when she earned her master of fine arts degree from the historically black Howard University. She is hardly the first white woman to take an interest in ‘‘the Black Woman’s Struggle,’’ one course she taught at Eastern Washington University.

But Dolezal’s exposure also comes at a time when racial categories have never seemed more salient. The same social media that is shaming Dolezal has also aggregated the distressingly numerous killings of African-Americans by the police into a singular statement on racism and inequality. In this moment, when blackness means something very specific — asserting that black lives matter — it follows for many people that categorical clarity has to matter, too.

The drive for authenticity that Dolezal has prompted is bound to raise more questions than answers. The enormous wealth of historical and genealogical information that is currently being digitized, along with the increasing availability and decreasing cost of DNA analysis, is bending our critical lens for viewing race; the secrets that people took to their graves are no match for Ancestry.com. Among other revelations, the records are proving that an enormous percentage of black men — nearly a fifth, according to one recent study — passed as white in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, suggesting that millions of white Americans could conceivably have African-American ancestry. A tan and curls do not make someone black. Nor does a graduate degree from Howard or a leadership position in the N.A.A.C.P. But it’s becoming harder to say what, exactly, does, even as racism remains real and deadly.

 

By:  June 16, 2015

June 19, 2015 Posted by | Race and Ethnicity, Rachel Dolezal, White Americans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Continuing Slide Toward Degeneracy”: When Will Ted Cruz Tell His Old Man To Get A Grip?

One of the things that makes U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) fascinating is the lift his career has given to the religio-political stylings of his father, the Rev. Rafael Cruz, director of Purifying Fire Ministeries, a spiritual warfare outfit from suburban Dallas. Now you’d think Cruz the Younger would be sufficiently right-wing to please most conservative palates. But no: he regularly sends the old man out to fire up crowds and say things most Republican orators only hint at. Robert Costa explained their relationship as follows about a year ago:

Cruz has kept his father, a 74-year-old pastor, involved with his political shop, using him not merely as a confidant and stand-in, but as a special envoy. He is Cruz’s preferred introductory speaker, his best messenger with evangelicals, and his favorite on-air sidekick — a presence who softens his edge….

This summer, father and son have also been traveling together throughout the country, speaking to conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere. Their roadshow has enthralled many on the right and startled Cruz’s potential 2016 rivals. No one else in the emerging GOP field has an ally like the charismatic elder Cruz….

There was Rafael Cruz in Des Moines, Iowa, last month, speaking to ministers at the Marriott hotel and collecting business cards in the lobby; a month later, he was in Ames, Iowa, pacing the stage at a conservative summit and drawing cheers for his broadsides against President Obama. His fiery speech at a FreedomWorks event in July drew heavy praise from talk radio.

Rush Limbaugh especially loved how Rafael Cruz compared the president’s “hope and change” message to Fidel Castro’s appeal decades ago. “This guy is knocking it out of the park!” Limbaugh exclaimed.

Conservative leaders agree. Bob Vander Plaats, a top Iowa conservative who hosted the Cruz duo last month, calls Rafael Cruz’s speeches “inspiring” and says the image of a father and son laboring together resonates with values voters. Former senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who now runs the Heritage Foundation, is another admirer. He has worked alongside Rafael Cruz this month to rally against Obamacare.

Trouble is, Rafael Cruz has a tendency to say things many of us consider kinda cray-cray. I first really paid attention to him when he spoke at the 2013 Family Leader Summit in Iowa:

He dated the slide towards national degeneracy to the 1963 Supreme Court decision banning school prayer, the “massacre of 55 million babies” to Roe v. Wade, and the introduction of full-on socialism in America to the administration of Jimmy Carter (!), held in abeyance solely by the mobilization of Christians on behalf of Ronald Reagan.

Soon after that David Corn of MoJo got interested in Rafael Cruz and easily dug up some rich examples of the old man espousing up-front Christian Nationalist Dominionism and calling the President of the United States a Marxist determined to exterminate religious belief. Confronted with the cray-cray, Ted Cruz’s office blandly indicated Rafael didn’t speak for his son. And best I can tell, the Ted ‘n’ Rafael tag team road show went on exactly as before.

Now a new video of Rafael Cruz has popped up wherein he tells a conservative audience in Texas about his encounter with an African-American “Democrat” pastor in Bakersfield, California, as an example of the dreadful ignorance of black folks who–believe it or not–don’t understand that “government handouts” have enslaved them; that legalized abortion is a racist genocidal conspiracy aimed at people of color; and that the Republican Party is responsible for all civil rights legislation. The money quote that’s getting picked up here and there comes from Cruz’ characterization of a book by black conservative journalist Jason Riley:

Jason Riley said in an interview, Did you know before we had minimum wage laws black unemployment and white unemployment were the same? If we increase the minimum wage, black unemployment will skyrocket. See, he understands it, but the average black does not.

Now you might think this doesn’t rank among the top ten most offensive things Pastor Cruz says every time he opens his mouth. But there’s something about the effortless and absolutely self-convinced way he says outrageous things that makes it a bit startling the first time you are exposed to his act.

The funny thing is that you’d figure Rand Paul was the potential 2016 candidate with the most significant Daddy Issues. If Rafael Cruz keeps it up, and there’s zero reason to think a zealot like him won’t, Ted Cruz may have to spend more time defending him than he’d like–or have a quiet son-to-father talk followed by some dog-whistle training for the Reverend.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 3, 2014

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Why Resentment Is Key To Conservative Politics”: Making People Hate Each Other Is At The Core Of Right-Wing Politics

Jay Nordlinger raised an issue yesterday at The Corner that is really a fundamental part of American politics that people should make sure to understand:

Many of us have asked a question for many years, and especially in the last few years. It goes something like this: “How can conservatives win elections against Santa Claus, or Robin Hood? Against candidates offering free stuff? Against candidates who blame people’s problems on the greedy rich, keepin’ ’em down?” In other words, how do you beat the socialists?

Obviously, this came up during the 2012 presidential campaign. It’s materially the same as what Mitt Romney was ruminating about in his infamous 47 percent remarks, but it’s also how Romney explained his loss after the fact. To be generous about it, it is somewhat of a disadvantage to run for office promising to do less for people than your opponent.

Mr. Nordlinger enlisted the wisdom of British Education Minister Michael Gove to help conservatives understand how to win with an austere message.

“Tocqueville pointed out — though he wasn’t the first — that, in a democratic system, there’s always a tendency to gravitate to the guy who offers free stuff, or who is prepared to pander to achieve power. But I have more faith in human nature, in that people do want to think better of themselves, people do want to take control of their own lives and make an enterprise of their own existence. People do recognize that being dependent on others is debilitating, and people also have a low tolerance for lead-swingers and others who seem to be taking advantage of their own hard work.”

(“Lead-swinger” is a British term for “idler,” “slacker.”)

“I think the way to win the argument, however, is not just to rely on people’s desire to improve their own lives, and their impatience with those who are not being similarly strenuous, but to make the point that conservative ideas are the best way of achieving the sorts of goals that progressives profess to believe in.”

Once again, we can see how these folks divide the world into a bifurcated land of enterprising strivers and idle moochers. Conservatives have an easy time understanding the world as a “fallen” place where sin is ever-present and perfection always eludes even the best of bureaucratic planners, but they seem to have great difficulty in understanding that the world is also a place with broken people who through genetics, environment, or misfortune are in need of societal assistance. As long as there is some accountability, they are pretty good at forgiveness, but compassion and empathy are tremendous challenges for them.

But, quite aside from all that, we can see that resentment is the key ingredient in their political toolbox. Mr. Gove argues that conservatives have to do more than just appeal to folks’ impatience with people who aren’t as strenuously enterprising as themselves, but he does acknowledge that appealing to that impatience is the starting point.

There are severe problems with this. For starters, the way this tends to manifest itself is in scapegoating and stereotyping certain groups of people who are classified as insufficiently enterprising. In America, this means blacks and Latinos. So, while the political strategy may start out as colorblind, it immediately transforms into racism.

Secondly, this idea that being on government assistance is “debilitating” is an exhortatory argument that, while having merit, is no way to deal with those who are genuinely in need. Public policy is not the same thing as life advice. We give assistance to mothers with dependent children because the children need food and clothes regardless of why the mother is unable to provide these things herself.

Thirdly, this constant appeal to resentment is not morally edifying for the people who are targeted by it. Rather than telling them that they are doing a good thing by contributing to the upkeep of our infrastructure and the needs of the poor, they are told that people are taking advantage of them and that they should be able to keep all the fruits of their labor.

But this appeal to resentment is seemingly an indispensable strategy for the rich, who need it to rally support for policies that will allow them to grow ever-richer and avoid any kind of constraints on their activities, even if those activities degrade the environment, harm consumers, or lead to an economic calamity.

Making people hate each other is at the core of right-wing politics.

 

By: Martin Longman, Ten Miles Square, Washington Monthly, May 7, 2014

May 8, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Politics, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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