It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been pretty active on social media still, but haven’t found the motivation to write anything more extensive like I usually write for this place. But my recent sadness has moved me to jot these thoughts down and put them here. My sadness is because of the turn that the culture war has taken. We used to argue about taxes and about whether companies should be regulated and if we should allow kids to pray in schools. The last argument I remember having with one side of my family (a side that has pretty much banned political discussions since Obama was elected) was about private vs public control of health insurance. It’s memorable to me as one of those conversations that runs in my mind because it should have gone so differently. I had made the case that the private sector couldn’t operate in the business of insuring the elderly because there’s simply no way to do it and turn a profit. The guy I was talking to pointed to Medicare advantage programs that are administered by private companies as evidence that they could. I don’t remember what happened next, or what I said, but I want to rewind and make the point that none of those programs work if the public sector isn’t paying the bill, or at least a big part of the bill. But I digress. My point here is that these are the things we used to argue about, sometimes getting hot about them. We talked about things and had strong opinions, but it all just felt different.
The folks who used to argue for lower taxes and about private vs public control of health insurance have now shifted to this re-emerging white nationalism. They used to make comments about being pro-immigration (children of immigrants themselves), but that what we’re seeing today is different because these immigrants are breaking the law, and that can’t happen. They said they weren’t anti-immigrant, just anti-illegal immigrant. But they now support anti-immigrant policies (not just anti-illegal immigrants, but policies that make it harder or impossible to come here legally).
Charles Barkley (the former NBA star) did an interview with Richard Spencer (the guy who coined the term “alt-right” and promotes white nationalism). Clip is here:
I bet five years ago, many of the current Trump supporters would have listened to an interview like this and said that the guy is a Nazi, and that they hate Nazis. Some will still say they hate Nazis, yet here we are. Now the guy is making some good points in their minds. They are anti-immigrant now. There is very little distance between what Spencer is saying and what they’re saying and supporting in the voting booth. The administration has not put forth a single policy change that makes it easier for people to come to the United States. They have made several policy changes, from early in their time in the White House that make it harder.
And the ideas coming out of this Spencer’s mouth aren’t any different from the stuff coming out of FoxNews hosts’ mouths. Just the other night, Tucker Carlson had a segment about people who, according to him, hate America. Hating America to him, on this segment, meant trying to acknowledge that slavery was bad, and promoting conversation about how to do that. He continued his attack on Tammy Duckworth because she said it’s worth talking about founding fathers honestly. And the text running under his face, next to pictures of Omar and Duckworth, read: “We have to fight to preserve our nation and heritage.”
How is that any different from what Spencer was saying to Barkley? This is no different from this form of logic: America is great and America was built on the backs of slavery, therefore criticizing slavery and slave holders is criticizing America.
it is so illustrative of how the Cult of Trump formed. This black and white thinking. This inability or refusal to say anything bad about him. The premise of FoxNews over and over that anybody finding any flaws must hate America. Of course, they can have a slogan “Make America Great Again” that clearly implies that it isn’t great, yet that’s not hating America…so they’re either full of shit, or just trying to manipulate people. And it’s working.
But this is where we are. This is now the divide. Fight to preserve our “heritage” (white domination) or embrace that we are a multicultural nation and thank that multiculturalism for how easy it is to get Chinese food and sushi and vindaloo and pho and spaghetti and sausage and pad thai and tacos. I hate the “take a side” mentality, but this one seems pretty clear to me.