Donald Trump derangement has induced Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to pen one of the least self-aware and ethically tone deaf pieces within memory. In a post taking issue with New York Times columnist Peter Wehner’s recent column arguing that political differences should not sever friendships and other personal relationships, he argued that while Wehner’s principle was usually sound, it should not apply when the source of discourse is Donald Trump. He writes:
“Of course friendships should survive some political differences: I have friends who think differently than I do about everything from proper tax rates to abortion regulations. But having a friend who supports a blatantly (and proudly) bigoted candidate is categorically different. Everyone might have a different line about what issue to take some sort of moral stand on, but Trump has stepped over pretty much all of them.”
If Chotiner wants to choose his friends like that, he is free to do so. This is the attitude that is tearing apart the traditional connective tissue that makes America a unique and productive society, however, and he is promoting it. It is also the demonization impulse, now being fed by zealots in both political parties and activists in every field, crusade and issue. This is the ultimate slippery slope. Hate your neighbor, if he doesn’t think like you do. Chotiner is embracing partyism, intolerance and, ironically, bigotry, exactly what he says makes Trump supporters unworthy of human companionship.
“To talk about issues “deeper” than politics is to make the assumption that family and friendship have greater emotional meaning to us than, say, the precise makeup of the Senate, ” Chotiner writes. “But what if you have family members or friends who are Muslims living overseas who want to visit America or Mexican American children worried about being stigmatized during a Trump administration?”
Does he not comprehend that anyone who feels passionately about any issue could make the same argument, with exactly as much validity and passion, regarding almost any candidate, any issue, any controversy? There are more justifiable reasons, I could argue with equal force, to support Donald Trump (one, at least: he is conceivably less corrupt, dishonest and untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton) rather than, for example, to support open borders, which many believe threaten the existence of our nation, or abortion on demand, which could be regarded as opening the door to infanticide, or permitting Obama-style executive orders, which some feel undermine constitutional government. Why is Donald Trump’s distrust of Muslims more intolerable than Bill Clinton’s misogyny? Why is what Chotiner calls racism (Trump is not a racist) more morally reprehensible than, one could argue, the Obama Middle East policies, which, some feel, have allowed hundreds of thousands of Syrians to die, and ISIS to run amuck?
Chotiner’s approach to human relations leads directly to the rationalization of terrorism. Where are moral imperatives felt more strongly than in religious beliefs? What better reason to demonize, and to pronounce an individual unfit for association? Why, he rejects God!
Of course, to reflex progressives like Slate’s author, the elevation of a race-baiting and victim-mongering to the highest priority is a virtual religion, and in stating that support of Donald Trump is an exception to extending a wide tolerance of beliefs, ideas, opinions, loyalties and tastes, Chotiner is doing what every religious zealot does: he is condemning infidels, as he chooses to define them.
There’s nothing unique about Trump that makes those who can’t see how awful he is unworthy of the love, friendship and companionship of those who are more enlightened….except to Isaac Chotiner, who presumes to know what are moral, ethical and acceptable beliefs to such a level of certainty that he wants to declare anyone with different ideas worthy of being shunned.
I think that attitude is as dangerous and repulsive as any position I’ve heard Donald Trump take. So could I be friends with Isaac? If he were kind, fun, smart, funny, willing to talk, listen or help out when was in trouble; it he was supportive and loyal, and didn’t abandon me or other friends when we needed support; if he answered desperate phone calls and e-mails, and never went out of his way to hurt me or others; most of all, if he was a baseball fan and liked theater—especially if he was a Red Sox fan and loved Gilbert and Sullivan—sure we could be friends, no matter what stupid political views he had or wrote about.
Besides, if you dump all of your friends you think are politically misguided, how can help them understand how misguided they are? If I had a friend who supported Donald Trump, I would be seeing more of him, not less.
Friends don’t let friends make fools of themselves while helping a boorish, vulgar, unqualified narcissist become President.