Trump
15
Jan

Why not Straight Pride? Here’s why

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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images)

June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it from the radio silence on the matter, two years running, from the White House. It’s been celebrated every year in June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the U.S. on LGBTQ rights in my lifetime. Heck, even in the last five years, despite, of course, the retrograde attitude of the White House.  Younger people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, are less likely to identify as gay or lesbian. And not because they’re closeted, as was the case back in the day. It’s because, thanks to the rights being won for LGBTQs and the idea among this cohort that sexuality is no big deal, therefore why claim to be anything?

But I don’t think we’re in a post-gay world – remember the post-racial world we had apparently entered a decade ago? And I don’t think that Pride parades are a relic of the past. Not yet. And neither does this op ed writer for USA Today.

Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world…

Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.

Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.

Quite true. So we can scoff at Pride parades as being commodified by corporations. And there’s some truth to that. But remember when it was a big win when the first corporations co-sponsored Pride events? I do. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Rights are granted, and they can be taken away. I think it’s not a bad idea to remember that and celebrate them. And for the young or not so young LGBTQ person to find others like him/herself, proudly marching, it can be a transcendent experience.

Next time someone sneers and suggests a Straight Pride month, feel free to roll your eyes. Or, feel free to politely educate the people suggesting this. See also: Why Black Lives Matter – Why Not All Lives Matter.

 

06
Jan

Racism’s New Normal

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RFK

Robert Kennedy, building a Rainbow Coalition

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, minutes after he was projected to win the California primary and was – maybe, we’ll never know – on a path to securing the Democratic nomination for President. It’s just anecdotal, but in my experience, people who were alive and aware at that time, and who were Kennedy supporters, still tear up when they speak of him. Even more so than the reaction of those who remember where they were when his brother, JFK, was killed. They believe that hope was killed on that June day in 1968.

There’s an excellent documentary on Netflix right now, “Bobby Kennedy for President,” which chronicles RFK’s awakening to racial issues of the 60s. The film makes note that he started off that decade as his brother’s Attorney General, wiretapping Martin Luther King and being highly resistant to making overtures to communities of color. Near the end of the decade, and his life, he strongly embraced Black and Latino communities. We can credit Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders for his change of heart. But whether it was political calculation or a sincere evolution – many historians come down on the latter – he was the first politician running for President to not ignore communities of color or at least pay them lip service. Historian Richard Kahlenberg superb has written an excellent paper, “The Inclusive Populism of Robert Kennedy,” making the case that RFK was building an alliance of working-class whites and minorities, a coalition that just might have won.

Fast forward to 2018. Where are working class whites now? Oh yes. They helped propel Donald “Mexicans are rapists” Trump to the White House.

Remember when Presidents of both parties, at least in words, tried to appeal to our better natures? What happened? Was a half-century of progress wiped out with one divisive campaign and one highly divisive and bigoted President. Yes, some of it, at least, we can hope, temporarily.

A recent Washington Post editorial stated that everything we’ve witnessed recently, from the ugly Roseanne tweet that ended her show, to the rise in open racists running for office, are predictable and predicted byproducts of the hate spewed from the resident of the Oval Office:

Can I prove that Trump’s hate-mongering is infecting the culture? No, I can’t, but it stands to reason — and there are signs that it is. This year, there are at least 10 white supremacists running for office — and that doesn’t count failed West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who excoriated “China people,” and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams, who campaigned in a “deportation bus.” Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and the Southern Poverty Law Center report that the number of hate crimes and hate groups has increased since Trump became president.

I can’t prove that the rise in overt racism is a direct result of Trump’s hate-mongering. But if not that, then what has precipitated it’s ugly rise?

I think reasonable people can agree on a few things. Racism never really left the U.S. It’s just that many racists and bigots were, for a while, afraid to say what they really thought. During that shining illusory interregnum in blatant racism –how quaint the term post-racial society sounds – people with racial animus – as opposed to racial bias, which, sadly affects a much wider swath of America – became resentful about feeling like they had to moderate their views. What was happening was, they were keeping the views out of sight, but within their bubbles, they were free to not only say what they wanted, their sense of white victimization grew. Hey, bubbles reinforce beliefs, don’t they?

Speaking of bubbles, we all live in our own. Here in southern California, a melting pot, salad, whatever metaphor you want to use, of every race, bigotry is generally not cool. Because I live in this region, which is relatively free of overt racism – oh it’s likely there, but tamped down by social norms – I’m left astounded and a little depressed every time I see support for Muslim travel bans, racist rallies, and polls where whites say they’re victims of discrimination.

And now, here we are, in a time where racism, for the time being in at least in a too-large part of the population, is normalized again. We’re a much more diverse nation than 50 years ago, and on the verge of, as you’re probably aware, of becoming a nation where whites are not the majority. And yet, we have an occupant in the White House who has, time and again, shown more racial animus than any major candidate for President since George Wallace, a man who doesn’t use coded dog-whistle terms to speak to racists, but rather, a bullhorn. It should be noted that George “Segregation Forever” Wallace didn’t come close to winning any of his Presidential races. Pendulums swing back and forth. We may be seeing a certain percentage of the white population unleashed and angry that they’ve had to keep their racism under wraps for so long. But it’s pretty clear that Trump gave them the freedom to unwrap it.

Still, America is changing, and it will not become whiter. I fear that America will always have a problem with race. But with more time, and with leaders who, at the very least, accept that this is a multicultural nation, we’ll keep making progress.

While I’m on the RFK-Trump comparison, one more thing. Charles Blow, opinion columnist in the New York Times, has an excellent piece today outlining what he sees as the darkness in Trump, and concludes:

He always disguises his hatred, often as a veneration and defense of his base, the flag, law enforcement or the military. He hijacks their valor to advance his personal hatred.

So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.

Surely RFK had his detractors. But I seriously doubt anyone made the case fifty years ago that he was a “hater.” Maybe that’s why he’s still beloved by so many who were adults at the time. And I’m trying not to be mean here, but I can’ help wondering how many people get weepy at the memory of Gov. George Wallace, who, to be fair, recanted on much of his racial animosity at the end of his life. And I can’t help wondering, after all the ways Trump has taken us backward into bigotry, after he’s gone, how many people will choke up at the memory of him?

 

 

 

 

05
Jan

Study: many whites voted for Trump for his embrace of whiteness

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Trump voters

Trump supporters: white and afraid of losing their majority (wikipedia commons)

 

For the past year and a half, there’s been a vigorous, sometimes tortured, effort to answer the question of how the election of Trump happened. Let’s forget for a minute that Hillary Clinton actually won 3 million more votes. She’s not sitting in the oval office.

It’s been posited that it was economic anxiety among rust belt voters that led so many Ohioans, Michiganders, Wisconsinites and Pennsylvanians to vote for Trump and deliver him an electoral college victory. The theory goes, he’ll bring back jobs by… doing something. Like tariffs, which he’s done. And… doing deals (he never was very specific about how he was going to bring back jobs, was he?)

We’ve also been told that voters wanted a change in Washington, drain the swamp as it were. Try not to laugh, given what you know about the D.C. swamp, which has become a nationally protected wetland with extra alligators since January, 2017. But maybe some people did believe that Crooked Hillary line. Surely many people just hate Washington, and having some other guy in there – a businessman, sports figure, singer, whatever – would do the nation good.

What a lot of mainstream pundits have tap danced around is what many of us have suspected: many whites voted for Trump because of his pretty explicit embrace of white nationalism.

Well, now there’s a study that backs up what we’ve been thinking. A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a segment – though not all, but hey, he only lost three key states by 80,000 votes – were motivated to protect their own dominant status in American culture and politics. Make America Great Again, for some, meant Make America White Again.

The study looked at a group of the same voters who cast ballots in 2012 and 2016, focusing on those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. Many of these voters, instead of expressing pocketbook fears, showed deep concern about America’s declining global power and – this is key – about the projected demographic changes that will put whites out of the majority by 2045.

 

The study’s author, Diana Muntz, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, found that one factor in particular increased the likelihood of voting for Trump: the belief that white people are more discriminated against than people of color. Mutz also found that the people who switched their vote from Democrat to Republican liked Trump’s aggressive stance on free trade and China’s ascendance as a global superpower. And they wanted group hierarchy, not equality, with their group on top.

So, remember that escalator speech where Trump announced his candidacy, the one where he said Mexicans coming into the country were rapists and murders? Turns out he knew his base pretty well. Or, maybe, he created this base. After all, no major nominee of any party has been so openly bigoted.

Now that naked bigotry is out in the open – and, sadly, growing – how do we as a nation deal with what has been unleashed? It’s a pretty good time for a real conversation on race. Unfortunately the one with the biggest megaphone and tiniest twitter fingers is the one setting the agenda. For now.

 

16
Jan

“You will not replace us!”

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IMG_TK-Confederate_flag__2_1_JDB86S2U_L310756755     On Saturday, several dozen torch-wielding protesters gathered in Charlottesville’s Lee Park chanting “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend” and “Blood and soil.” It was a short protest, quickly dispersed.

It was a response to the Charlottesville City Council, which in April voted to sell the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands in the park. A judge earlier this month issued an injunction that prevents the city from doing so for six months. It’s part of a – well, movement is too sweeping a term – concurrent effort to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces throughout the south.

It’s hard to say how representative the protesters are of white Southerners today. The removal of the confederate flag from South Carolina in 2015 after Dylan Roof massacred black people in a Charleston church. Yet the fight over the flag hasn’t ended.

It’s easy for many to day, “you lost the Civil War, get over it already.” But to some – okay many, even most – Americans who see Civil War symbols as a reminder of slavery, to some, they’re something else (but don’t call these people racists). In banning the Confederate flag in 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that it could be displayed, but in a museum. Many others equated it with Nazi symbols, something you just don’t wear in public. Then again, one wonders how many people have both swastikas and Confederate flags in that venn diagram of white supremacist groups.

Right, we’re not supposed to call those who want to preserve Confederate symbols in public places racists. Just historians. Okay then. We’re actually not interested in debating that. What we do find interesting is this: the Charlottesville protesters chanted “you will not replace us!”

Replace hard-core Confederates? Replace white nationalists? Or replace… white people?

White Americans – north, south, east and west – are very touchy these days. In study after study, the idea that white people were losing ground – economically and culturally – was a main reason they voted for Trump.

Now, the latest research offers more evidence that it was fear of diversity – okay let’s just call it racism, mixed with xenophobia – that motivated Trump voters:

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the PRRI analysis said they believed the U.S. was in danger of losing its cultural identity. Similarly, 65 percent responded that American culture had deteriorated since the 1950s. And more than half of white working-class Americans said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination facing blacks and other minorities.

Discrimination against whites. So, we’re at a chicken-or-egg question. Did Trump stoke the fears that were already there, making white pride a thing? Or did he funnel all of the fears of white Americans into one convenient container: race?

You will not replace us: those projections that the U.S. will be racially plural in this century really, really have struck at the heart of white America.

17
Jan

“Those people” and white racial resentment

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There’s a story in the Washington Post today about how Trump supporters trust him to do the right thing on health care, no matter what the evidence shows them.

Near the end of the story is a telling anecdote that shows how easy it is for whites to blame non-whites for their economic insecurity. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. In this case a mom, Nancy Ware who has helped her 35-year-old son find an insurance plan and complains about the lack of competition in the exchange in Nashville making her premiums too high. Legitimate complaint. But who does she blame? Not the insurance companies or Tennessee’s political leaders who wouldn’t expand Medicaid. She points the finger at… you know.

Ware is a landscaper and often works near Section 8 housing in the Nashville area, and she becomes furious when she sees residents who “drive better cars than I do, they have weaves and hair color better than I can, they have manicures.” As Ware, who is white, waited in line for the rally to start, a group of young African American protesters walked by, and she yelled at them, “Go cash your welfare checks!”

“He gets penalized on his income taxes, while these people that don’t know how to pull their pants up can go get it for free,” said Ware, whose employer covers the full cost of her health care. “Make it even. Make it balanced.”

Anyone remember Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen driving a Cadillac” anecdote? Now that welfare queen has health care and a better manicure than white people, apparently.

We’ve been told again and again how the Trump vote was all about economic insecurity. Perhaps. But the blame for that economic insecurity, as it has been throughout American history, is cast on the most convenient scapegoat. In this case, the welfare queen with the better hair color has stolen a white woman’s health care. Because… just because.

And Trump? He’s been doing what race-baiting politicians have always done. Except they used to do it in coded ways, dog whistles like “welfare queen.” The dog whistle is gone. The megaphone is here.

 

12
Jan

The White Male Resentment Election

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Wait. Keep reading. We know that elections have a lot of moving pieces and there are many ways to explain a “loss”: we put that in quotes because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, possibly by more than two million when all from California are counted.

But we’ve commented many times on the “Make America Great Again” slogan. Do its adherents have any idea exactly what date when America was last great? 1956? Before they were born? What has been making America not so great?

There are many answers these voters have been giving. They’ll blame NAFTA, they’ll blame ISIS – which is a minimal threat within America’s borders, but whatever – and they’ll blame the “elites” (gee, who did you think you voted for? Joe the Plumber?)

But what many have said – many white men – have said, explicitly and covertly, is that they’re losing their power. From The Nation magazine:

Indeed, when these voters scream about the economy, when Trump appealed to them, over and over, by claiming that the government was wasting their money, a big part of that was the perception that government money was going to help African Americans, single mothers, and the white people in their neighborhoods they deemed lazy. Trump ally Roger Stone said in September, about his candidate’s appeal to black voters: “When you are trading your vote for a welfare check, yes, that is a form of slavery. Yes.”

Again, not just loss of white privilege, but white male privilege. The Nation continues:

They were voting against an economy they believed was giving women a step up. In July, David Frum, in The Atlantic, compiled all of the conversations and interviews he’d done with Trump voters into an anti-elite screed written from their perspective. “In our America, the gender gap closed a long time ago—and then went into reverse,” he wrote. “Obama in the Oval Office was humiliating enough. But Hillary will be worse: We’re going to lose any idea at all that leadership is a man’s job.” I looked into this and it isn’t true. Everywhere in the country, women do worse than men in both job-market participation and in salaries. If there’s a tiny pocket of the country where women do better than men, it is not large enough to measure or make even a tiny difference in what we do measure. What is true is that women had been gaining ground. Men in rural communities across the country are unable to perceive that as anything but a loss to their own advantages.

So. Will America be great enough for them after four years of the new administration? We have to doubt that.

13
Jan

Who are the “deplorables”?

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By now everyone has heard about Hillary Clinton’s comment about half of her opponent’s supporters falling into a “basket of deplorables” – sexist and racist mostly.

The pushback from her opponent and his surrogates has been hard and unrelenting. But unless we’ve missed it, none of these surrogates or Trump himself have refuted the claim. None of them have said, “no, most of my supporters are not racist at all.”

Because it wouldn’t be true.

Of course it’s political season, and lies are flying fast and furious. But the framing of the counter-attack on Clinton is telling. Trump has been courting racists and alt-right white nationalists since the beginning.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post says what everyone in the U.S. should already know; that a good percentage – okay, we can quibble about the exact percentage - are bigoted or racist:

In June, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of Clinton voters believe the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities is an important issue, while only 42 percent of Trump supporters feel that way. As I wrote previously, earlier Pew research found that Trump supporters were significantly less likely than other Americans (and supporters of other Republican presidential candidates) to think that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States.

Research by Washington Post pollsters and by University of California at Irvine political scientist Michael Tesler, among others, have found that Trump does best among Americans who express racial animus. Evidence indicates fear that white people are losing ground was the single greatest predictor of support for Trump — more, even, than economic anxiety.

So, okay, maybe deplorable is an loaded term. It might be more accurate to say, “Trump does best among Americans who express racial animus and white people who fear they are losing economic ground, therefore they blame people of color.” It’s a little wordy, though, right?

What we can say for sure is, it’s going to be a very long 53 days until this election is over.

03
Jan

Trump: Mexican-Americans are not real Americans

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Well, he didn’t say this in so many words, but if you look at his history of comments on the matter, that’s the narrative.

The latest is Trump bashing Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over two class-action suits against Trump University.

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

Get that? Curiel is hostile toward Trump because he’s Hispanic and proud of it.

Let’s not overlook the unprecedented event of presidential nominee of a major political party to be attacking a member of the federal judiciary. That’s horrible even without the racial angle.

Now Trump claims Judge Curiel cannot carry out his duties as judge because his parents were born in Mexico. Let’s also consider this irony: Judge Curiel’s father arrived in the United States before Trump’s mother. This claim suggests that Mexican-Americans have inherently divided loyalties and that it is obvious on its face that any Hispanic in the United States would be hostile to Donald Trump. And, by extension, to all white people. That’s the implication isn’t it?

Trump’s campaign has been driven by building white backlash resentment against non-whites – mainly Hispanics and principally Mexican immigrants. It looks like he’s not going to scale back these attacks but instead double down on them: Those people are not us, they’re dangerous, they’re taking our stuff and pulling us down.

It’s going to be an ugly 5 months.

03
Jan

Trump sparks surge in Latino voter registration

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Political insiders have wondered for decades how to motivate Latinos to vote. Now they have their answer: Donald Trump.

Trump is poised to win today’s primary in Indiana, and if he does he will have a clear path to the GOP nomination for President, most political experts agree. The dawning realization that the Republican nominee will likely be Trump has led to a spike in voter registration for Latinos. And they’re not registering to vote FOR him either.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials, projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008.

A whopping 80 percent of respondents in a poll of registered Hispanic voters in Colorado and Nevada said Trump’s views on immigration made them less likely to vote for Republicans in November. In Florida, that number was 68 percent.

The figures are sparking confident tones from Democrats, who think their party’s nominee will benefit from a huge advantage in the fall not only in the presidential race but also in battles for the House and Senate.

Many of the newly registered Hispanic voters are in relatively safe states for Democrats (California) and Republicans (Texas). But rising registration rates among Hispanics in swing states of Colorado, Florida and Nevada could make it easier for the Democratic candidate to capture them. If Trump proves especially toxic, even states like Arizona and Georgia could be in play.

It’s Trumps loud demands to close the border that have motivated Latinos, not just the policy itself (most wouldn’t be directly affected by it) but the ugliness of the rhetoric, including Trump’s most ardent supporters.

Does anyone want to take bets on whether Trump will double down on the rhetoric?

22
Jan

The Trump Effect: A Boost in Naturalization

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Donald Trump, the “Mexican illegals are rapists and murderers” candidate, is having an unintended effect on immigration in the U.S. According to multiple news outlets, Latinos are clamoring to get naturalized this year just to vote against him.

Figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show a 14.5% jump in naturalization applications in June-December of 2015 compared with the same six months in the previous year. Federal data does not break down those applications by race, but grass-roots organizations, like the Florida Immigrant Coalition, say their naturalization drives across their swing state are filled primarily by Latinos.

“They feel very unsafe with his words,” said Florida Immigrant Coalition spokesman Ivan Parra. “They want to be respected. For them, it is an emergency.”

We’ve been hearing about this trend from other states as well. And it shouldn’t be surprising. Remember that 2013 Republican party post-mortem, after Latinos shunned Romney in the 2012 election? With Trump at the top of the ticket, if he is, the Republican party could be looking at shutting out Latinos for a generation or two. What does it take to awaken that “sleeping giant”? Maybe a candidate as toxic and hostile to non-whites as Trump.

No wonder the GOP establishment is trying so hard to stop him. Well, good luck with that. Seriously, good luck.