Monday, August 14, 2017

"And the truth will make you silent...."

Lots of handwringing and tut-tutting and making of distinctions so fine a Jesuit would say "Hey, wait a minute!" and a Thomist scholar would be left bewildered.  Racism is the evil that dare not speak its name:

The Republican Party created Trump. But elected Republicans at the federal level are not Trump. They’re not openly racist (well, with a couple of exceptions of the Steve King-Louie Gohmert variety). They know better these days—or, let’s hope, they actually aren’t that way in their hearts, which I assume most of them aren’t.

What is, actually, the difference between what you say, and what's in your heart?  I suppose we could point to the example of Iago, truly Shakespeare's supreme villain (Lady Macbeth usually gets that accolade because, well:  she's a lady.  Such presumptions aside, the crown must go to the man who say "I am not what I am.")  What's in his heart is not at all what he says; but it is what he does.  This is a very old understanding of human evil.

The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse--
who can understand it?
I the LORD test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

It is your actions that speak loudest; not what you say you really meant, but didn't actually say.

“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” [Peter] Cvjetanovic opined. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”

“I did not expect the photo [of him in Charlottesville, carrying a torch and joining in the primal screaming] to be shared as much as it was,” he noted. “I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

Cvjetanovic added: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

Because, you know, what you say should trump what you do.  Right, Iago?

“They have no proof that I’m a racist,” [president of Washington State University’s chapter of the College Republicans Richard] Allsup said. “They are slandering me and that I’m racist without evidence because I talk about history and I talk about American politics.”

Well, other than being in that photograph above, from the Charlottesville riots.  Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas, dude.  Something even Michael Tomasky understands:

It’s not enough for them to say, as most of them have since Saturday, that there’s no place in this country for hatred and bigotry. For the record, the most comprehensive list I saw as of Sunday afternoon was compiled by Haaretz, which had 17 GOP senators—including Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul—saying nothing up to that point.
Yeah, but what's in their hearts?  Isn't that what really matters?

Most of the statements and tweets issued were broad and pretty ambiguous denunciations of hatred and bigotry. John Thune of South Dakota was typical: “The hate and bigotry occurring in #Charlottesville is disgusting and unacceptable to the American people. America is better than this.” Ted Cruz of Texas was a pleasant surprise in that he used the phrase “domestic terrorism.”

But denouncing bigotry is easy for most Republicans, if not for the president. That isn’t what needs denouncing right now. What needs denouncing is white supremacy. What needs denouncing is a White House and a president who goes out of his way to avoid denouncing white supremacy. What needs denouncing is Trump.
I'm almost bemused by the distinction between "bigotry" and "white supremacy."  The latter is almost entirely based in the former.  You can't really be a white supremacist without being a bigot; indeed, one could almost say the former are simply more honest about their aims than the latter.  You know where they stand, where the bigot could be standing at your elbow, smiling and seeming almost wholly acceptable to you.

Kind of like Donald Trump.

We know Trump knows how. When he spoke up against the MS-13 street gang a month ago, he called its members “animals,” said “they butcher those little girls. They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here.” Said that “it is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and eradicate MS-13” and that “one by one, we’re liberating our American towns.”

“I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”

And he kicked off his Presidential campaign claiming Mexico was sending criminals and rapists to our country.  There's a common thread there, and it's not the appeal to violence and the fear of violence; not that alone.  The "Central Park Five" were black.  MS-13 and those criminals Mexico is supposedly sending us, are non-white as well.  His words are the words of a bigot.  His appeal is to white supremacy.  Our country is being over-run by violent brown people, and we must defeat them.  Blacks run wild in our cities, and we must make examples of them.  What is the distinction between that language and the language of David Duke in Charlottesville?

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said Duke in video uploaded to Twitter by Indianapolis Star photojournalist Mykal McEldowney. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Take our country back from whom?  The blacks in Central Park, for one.  The criminals and rapists from Mexico.  MS-13; just to name a few.  All of them various shades of not-white.  The kind of people David Duke wants to take our country back from.  As do many of the people who showed up in Virginia with weekend in MAGA caps.  They know what would MAGA, and they were there to shout it.

David Duke is a racist and a white supremacist and a bigot and every other adjective, label, and noun we can apply to him to make him a pariah.  And the distinction between David Duke and Donald Trump is that one of them sits in the Oval Office.

And that makes us wary of even calling him "prejudiced."

1 comment:

  1. The Republicans have been encouraging this for generations, now, really since 1964 (Jackie Robinson's account of his experience at the Republican convention that year was a huge eye-opener) and now they're trying to disavow something they created.

    I read somewhere that that Cvjetanovic guy is a member of some Croatian fascist group, I don't know if it's true but given his participation in this it's clear he's a fascist.

    As Charles Pierce said, this weekend's events were about the lowest thing I've ever seen. I was glad my WWII veteran parents weren't alive to see Trump made president but I'm really glad they weren't here to see armed Nazis, parading by torchlight in an American city without all politicians condemning it. Even before the car-terrorist incident. Not to mention the judiciary allowing it as "freedom of speech".

    I notice the planned Nazi event in Boston is billed as a "free speech" event, too. Doesn't do a single thing to convince me my conclusions about what the court rulings in that area for the past 53 years have been a colossal breach of judicial and legal responsibility. My fear is that they'll hold enough of those to make this seem normal.