In my piece on the fall out over Matt Lauer’s performance at an NBC presidential forum earlier this week, I made the point that the outrage is founded on an ever shifting understanding of objectivity as it pertains to the media. Of the outrage, I wrote:
Herein lies the crux of the angst from the media, and those on the left over Lauer. Those parties have all declared Trump to be an uncouth buffoon who says offensive things and thus isn’t fit to be president. That basic assertion is a given, a concrete foundation from which everything else follows.
To this end, Matt Lauer’s greatest sin on Wednesday night was that he didn’t spend the entirety of his 30 minutes with Trump calling him a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, Transphobe, whatever phobe repeatedly. That would have been ‘doing his job.’
I’d like to expand on this a bit further, if I may.
Back in January, the Huffington Post decided that a disclaimer should accompany each and every article it posts which relates to Donald Trump. It reads like this:
Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
It serves as a Surgeon General-esque warning to readers: ‘You are consuming content the subject of which is a really bad person. Be careful.’ On the back of that declaration, many mainstream journalists feel no compunction in writing about Trump and his supporters in increasingly disturbing ways.
They’ve declared Trump and his supporters to be deluded, and as such the ‘sane’ leftist has a direct duty to ‘un-delude’ the Trump supporter, as one would do if one had a friend or family member who obviously needed Institutional care. Some have taken the route that Trump and his candidacy represents the extinction of democracy, and thus is a threat to the Republic. More worryingly, others have advocated outright violence at Trump rallies.
The leftists’ recent self described abandonment of objectivity in the face of a supposed existential threat would make perfect sense if there was objectivity in their viewpoint in the first place.
On the surface, there is. The main charges against Trump – racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia – are real phenomenon with clear definitions. The issue is that none of them actually apply to Trump, objectively speaking.
The charge of racism is based on Trump’s stance on immigration, in particular his comments on illegal immigrants from Mexico. Regardless of Trump said, the bottom line is that ‘Mexican’ isn’t a race. The charge of sexism is largely based on public comments Trump has made which ultimately amount to the same type of locker room talk men have had with each other in one form or another since the beginning of time. Women have their own version of this sort of crude talk as well. Neither of it is sexist.
Showing affection to one’s own country, wanting to advance its interests while preserving its culture and history is not xenophobic. Wanting to curb immigration from a group of people which have inflicted disproportionate amounts of terror against us does not amount to Islamophobia.
This is all objectively true, yet those on the left are steadfast in their condemnation of Trump as a bigot. Consider this from former President Bill Clinton from a stump speech earlier this week:
In it, he says of Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan that ‘if you’re a White Southerner, you know exactly what it means…What it means is that I’ll move you back up on the social totem pole, and other people down.’
Never mind that Clinton also used the phrase Make America Great Again during his 1992 presidential run, as is shown in the end of that video.
His stance on illegal immigration, as shown in the following video from the his 1996 State of the Union address, is almost Trumpian:
So why isn’t Bill Clinton, himself a white Southerner, and thus must have known what Make America Great Again ‘really meant’ when he used phrase himself, who took a tough stance on illegal immigration, a racist?
Well in some circles, he is. This is because of his 1994 crime bill which stiffened penalties for drug violations, which had a disproportionate impact on black communities and increased the black incarceration rate as a result. One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was how she was going to distance herself from the ‘racism’ of that bill in order to assure the black community that she is on their side.
Bill Clinton is not the only leftist icon which has his legacy re-litigated in our new age of hyper political correctness and social justice. Figures such as FDR and Martin Luther King have been criticized by leftists for racism and homophobia, respectively. The Washington Post has been called for the expunging of Woodrow Wilson, one of the most progressive presidents ever, from official places of honor. This is in light of protests, ongoing at the time of this writing, over the fact that Wilson’s name still adorns one of the departments at Princeton University. The ferocity of some of the reporting suggests they would like to expunge Wilson from history entirely.
This sort of judgement of historical figures by today’s standard of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and microaggressions leads me to believe that no president in history, up to and including the 2008 version of Barack Obama, is electable in 2016. The vast majority of past presidents would have been disqualified for their racism and/or sexism. The rest, including 2008 Barack Obama would be disqualified for not having the ‘right’ stance on gay marriage.
Obama eventually got with the program, and by 2012 he was singing the correct tune. He had to do so in on order to conform to an ever changing, ever ‘progressing’ culture. The modern left is infused with the Marcusian belief that anything goes as long as it feels good, and doubly so if it represents a break with moral traditions of the past. If Hillary Clinton were to win, I have no doubts that in four or eight years, the candidate that stands before us now will look like an extremist bigot compared to the politician she will end up being in order to conform to the future cultural zeitgeist.
These continual shifts in interpretations and after the fact declarations of bigotry ultimately cheapen those terms, especially since the threshold for being a bigot is continually lowered. If wanting strong borders is now bigotry, there are now hundreds of millions, even billions around the world who now can be described as bigots. The term itself is rendered near meaningless as a result.
This sets the stage for Friday, when Hillary Clinton decided to delineate Trump supporters in the following manner:
You know, just to be grossly generalist, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
“Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.
That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for a change. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
She said these remarks at a campaign rally, but she made similar remarks in a television interview that aired earlier in the day, suggesting that these remarks were well thought out, an perhaps even focus group approved.
In trying to demonize half of Trump supporters (a figure in the tens of millions domestically, perhaps hundreds more globally) using terms such as racist, sexist and homophobic, she is trying to levy a serious charge on hundreds of millions. Some outlets have tried to defend Clinton, claiming that because she was disparaging something negative, so it the comments were fine.
As previously discussed, the utter meaningless of those terms owing to their overuse has weakened the charge considerably. To deem Trump supporters racists or sexists is to attempt to attach the stringent punishment for those transgressions, ostracism from society and de-legitimization, to views as simple as having a strong country with strong borders which follows the law.
In other words, you should be silenced if you don’t like illegal immigration, or, you have ever disagreed with, or said something nasty about a woman or a person who is not white. Her remarks then come across as nothing more than a declaration that a whole group of people is unworthy, hence ‘deplorables.’ It is an insult, pure and simple.
Ultimately, this is all those on the left seem to have. The charge of racist/sexist/homophobe was once so grave that it forced society to conform to the leftist dogma in order to avoid those damning labels. In 2016, we’re finally beginning to see the Law of Diminishing Returns reduce that stranglehold. People are no longer scared of those labels, not because they are more emboldened to be bigoted by a person like Trump, but because the terms themselves have less and less meaning when they’re applied to every single transgression, big or small.
In short, when everything is racist, nothing is.