03 June 2016
The hate that hate produced?
I still don't think that Donald Trump is a racist in any meaningful sense of the word, but it's harder than ever to avoid the conclusion that he's bigoted against Mexicans. Either that explains Trump's railing against Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, who is hearing a case against the notorious Trump University, or else the candidate's instinct is always to go for the ad hominem attack. Either way, Trump asserts that Curiel is biased against him because the judge's parents were (legal) immigrants from Mexico. His tantrum might have been a "Have you no decency?" moment if such moments still were possible in the U.S. If Joe McCarthy and Joe Welch had been around today, and McCarthy had pulled his usual stunt, Welch probably would have hit McCarthy with a law book. That's where we're at, or that's where we're heading, to judge from the scenes outside the Trump rally in San Jose yesterday, where the candidate's fans were chased, punched and pelted by protesters. Way to surrender the moral high ground, whoever you are. Now the logic seems to be that if you're even interested in Trump, you're a racist. The Nation claimed in an editorial last week that, given all of Trump's deviations from ideological orthodoxy, the only thing holding the Republican party together, or the principal force animating the Trump movement, is hate. But hate may be the only thing holding the Democratic party together right now, albeit hate of one man rather than an entire group of people. Now that hatred of Trump extends to his supporters, which only confirms the implicit narrative among many of those supporters that the American left is defined by hatred of whites. Of course, leftist haters will say they only hate haters, but they, just as much as Republicans, are guilty of a defining fallacy of our time: to oppose is to hate. Few of us seem willing to concede any sincere basis, let alone any reasoned basis, for disagreement with our beliefs, our pet projects, our desires. If Trump wants to control immigration, he must hate foreigners; if Mexicans or other immigrants oppose his policy, they must hate America. As Americans grow more intolerant of contradiction, Trump provokes hatred by unapologetically contradicting people, yet seems intolerant of contradiction himself. So what's next? We started with Trump supporters attacking hecklers inside the rallies, and now we have Trump haters attacking the supporters outside. The next step could be still more provocative if police don't take control of the space outside political rallies. I can easily see self-appointed bodyguards forming to protect Trump and his followers, and I can just as easily see people calling them Trump's brownshirts or stormtroopers or something just as inflammatory. It would be all the more reason for many to fear Trump and some to escalate the confrontations further still. My hope is that law enforcement will make such an escalation by the Trump movement unnecessary, but even if they do so it's unlikely to alter our toxic dialectic of hate. That might take someone willing to risk everyone's hatred by telling them they're all wrong and acting accordingly.