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Smart people saying smart things (11.27)

Smart people saying smart things (11.27) November 27, 2016

Liel Leibovitz, “What to Do About Trump? The Same Thing My Grandfather Did in 1930s Vienna”

Treat every poisoned word as a promise. When a bigoted blusterer tells you he intends to force members of a religious minority to register with the authorities—much like those friends and family of Siegfried’s who stayed behind were forced to do before their horizon grew darker—believe him. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t lean on political intricacies or legislative minutia or historical precedents for comfort. Don’t write it off as propaganda, or explain it away as just an empty proclamation meant simply to pave the path to power. Take the haters at their word, and assume the worst is imminent.

Hollis Phelps, “White evangelicals are playing the long game. This is the result they wanted”

Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, racially charged rhetoric played right into the hands of white evangelicals as well. Although white evangelicals may often express a desire to love their neighbours as themselves, in reality the commandment is selectively applied. Anyone considered and deemed a threat to evangelical self-understanding, which includes a narrow vision of what America looks like, is on the other side of the fabled “culture war”. At the end of the day, that war is based in a particular conception of whiteness, filtered through the lens of religious identity and social conservatism. It’s not surprising, then, that four out of five latched on.

I’m sure most white evangelicals would balk at the charge of racial politics, but the overall motivation in backing Trump has never been much of a secret. … The “work” involved this time around is as old as the moral majority: it’s about protecting some modicum of evangelical identity and social values against a perceived onslaught of antagonistic liberalism. More specifically in regard to this election, white evangelical support for Trump was and is all about appointing conservative, evangelical-friendly judges to the supreme court. It’s also about enacting laws that they hope will put a stop to what they consider as threats to religious freedom, even if the latter border on discrimination. White evangelicals, in other words, are playing the long game, and that has nothing to do with who Trump is as an individual.

Yolanda Pierce, “A Fragile Hope Has Been Broken by My White Brothers and Sisters”

How do I continue to be in Christian fellowship with those who embrace a man still calling for the deaths of five innocent African-American men acquitted of a crime by DNA? How can I believe that racial justice is possible when dealing with those who are quick to forgive the president-elect’s egregious moral lapses, while simultaneously supporting his contention that black and brown youth are inherently criminals deserving of constant surveillance?

Katie Grimes, “There Is No Such Thing as ‘the White Working Class'”

Here we encounter something quite strange: figures such as Sanders, who tend both to prioritize the fight against economic injustice above that against racial injustice and to believe the latter to be largely a consequence of the former than a separate species of its own, end up defending that view by speaking in a way that contradicts it. Indeed, if we believe that economic systems oppress people by sorting them into social classes, then how can an entity such as the white working class even exist? By distinguishing the white working class from their non-white counterparts, one admits that racial identity and power trumps class position, even though one intends the exact opposite.

Masha Gessen, “Trump: The Choice We Face”

Realism is predicated on predictability: it assumes that parties have clear interests and will act rationally to achieve them. This is rarely true anywhere, and it is patently untrue in the case of Trump. He ran a campaign unlike any in memory, has won an election unlike any in memory, and has so far appointed a cabinet unlike any in memory: racists, Islamophobes, and homophobes, many of whom have no experience relevant to their new jobs. Patterns of behavior characteristic of former presidents will not help predict Trump’s behavior. As for his own patterns, inconsistency and unreliability are among his chief characteristics. …

We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge. … Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning.


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