CNN called them racist yesterday (so did Huffpo, but you know—Huffpo.). That’s not journalism. You tell the public about a statement, and you let others of note or credibility characterize it. It is particularly unethical journalism to cross the line into characterizing a statement and to characterize it falsely to conform to a false narrative or “big lie,” which the “Trump is a racist” assertion is.
Ann Althouse, bless her, saved me the time of explaining why yesterday’s stupid tweets, which I posted about here, are not racist in her first blog post this morning. No one should have to explain that the tweets weren’t racist, since they weren’t, and have no characteristic of racism whatsoever. Critics who choose that cheap route should have to explain why the tweets are racist, using the actual definition, which the accusation defies. Here is Althouse, after repeating the original set of tweets:
So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion. Whenever confronted, they call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, “RACIST.” Their disgusting language….. ….and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged. If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!
1. Who is he talking about? He doesn’t name names, so it’s an invitation for others to do the defining. I see many people talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and expressing outrage that Trump would speak of her as an immigrant when she was born in the United States. But he didn’t name her. His words exclude her. She’s really got a hold on people’s mind!
2. What, exactly, is supposed to be racist here? Clearly, these tweets cause some readers to feel that racism is being expressed, but it’s hard to find it in these words. I see “RACIST” but that’s in the context of ostensibly sticking up for Nancy Pelosi. Some Democrats are calling her racist, and that shows how unfairly quick they are to see racism. Defending Pelosi, he implicitly defends himself.
3. Is it xenophobia? He’s not saying get out and stay out. He’s saying don’t criticize the United States if you immigrated from a worse country. Go back to that place, fix it, and “The come back and show us… how it is done.” He’s welcoming the immigrant back, after these steps are taken. Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect someone to return to a place they left and become involved in changing that place, but it’s a figure of speech. He seems to be saying that those who were not born here, who chose to move here, have a special obligation to express love for America, that they should tone down their criticism of America.
4. If telling these Congresswomen to tone it down is wrong, Nancy Pelosi was wrong too. (See “Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad’ Burst Into Flame” (NYT).) So, again, Trump lines himself up with Pelosi. How do you defend Pelosi without defending Trump? In this view, it’s a clever (and cruel) rhetorical move by Trump.
Good job. I’ll go along with cruel, though the episode is more stupid and self-destructive than cruel, but cruelty isn’t racism.
I checked Ann’s comments, and was surprised to see them supporting or defending Trump by about a 3-1 margin. Here’s an example:
He clearly does not live by the ‘less is more’ principal. I wish he did. He’d be at 60% approval if he did. But that said, I’ve learned to just sit back and watch what happens every time Trump says THE BIG THING and the media goes all breathless, and Dems go all breathless and it’s all we hear for days and days or weeks and weeks and something has got to change so let’s change the entire country starting with impeaching this guy for bad thoughts stated indelicately.
What he said is true. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley all have little love for this country as it. They want to change it and not in a small way. Entirely. And they regularly display racism (anti-white), sexism (anti-male), and anti-semitism. It’s fine with the media and young Dems if you’re a progressive and say these things, and apparently some racism is good racism and some racism is bad racism. But for most Americans of all shades, it is what it is. Hateful. Distasteful. These congresspeople hate America. Using their own words to describe the Green New Deal: “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” Watch Tlaib sometime. She’s a mess of a person. And she does not like you.
Trump tweets for reaction. Again- he’s got everyone focused on these 4 people who empirically do not like this country as is. I’m going to get past this breathless Monday to see how this actually plays out long term.
That’s pretty deft analysis, and accurate too.
To be fair, this idiotic statement, by a Congresswoman from my home state of Massachusetts, and one of the four Democrats implicitly targeted by Trumps’ tweets, isn’t racist either. It embraces stereotypes, opposes free thought, shows an obsession with race and a belief that races should be pitted against each other, and it is even more stupid than Trump’s tweets, but it’s not racist:
It also, I suspect, more objectionable to Americans than what Trump is saying.