Stop Making Trump Look Good By Being Worse!
I need a media fast. Instead I’m contributing to the circus. Maybe it will provide clarity, but chances are my contribution will either be ignored or ignite vitriol. Vitriol…something we are not in short supply of here in America.
Let’s start with the protests, the hatred. I have no love for Trump. I couldn’t vote for him. He said way too many terrible things about other people. He has the moral compass of, well, most other Americans, unfortunately. I did not feel comfortable voting for someone that I felt had no integrity. (This is also why I didn’t want Bill Clinton to have access to the Oval Office. I care about women too much to have him force any more interns into sexual favors.) Thanks to his inflammatory and derogatory statements, Trump has allowed the left to paint him as the embodiment of hatred of women and minorities. All the hate-mongering still couldn’t get enough people to the polls to support Clinton. The result: Trump wins. The response: “Love Trumps Hate.” The irony: The sign is now being held up next to “Rape Melania.” This is our America. Our response to a “hateful” president-elect is violence, hatred, and fear.
But Trump is a liar! We all have seen the videos of him contradicting himself. So how do the Trump haters respond? More lies. My liberal friends have posted fabricated news stories and click-bating, misleading headlines in abundance this week. When Trump appointed African-American, Ken Blackwell, to head his domestic transition team the headlines read, “Donald Trump’s war on LGBTQ people has already begun.” Another one that said, “Trump’s Domestic Transition Team Leader is a Hate Group Member” Why? Because Blackwell believes that homosexuals can and should change their sexual habits. These kinds of headlines are lies. We HATE Trump because he is hateful and lie about him because he is a liar!
What about the openly anti-Semitic, anti-gay, white-supremacist appointment of Steve Bannon? What about all the race-hatred coming from those on the alt-right? I have no doubt that there is plenty of racially charged hatred to go around, but I don’t think there is anyone in this country who could define “alt-right” well enough to be able solidly link actual acts of violence or discrimination to it. In fact, no one even knew what the term meant until five minutes ago. That’s not surprising, given that it has only been around for about that long.
I did some research on Bannon. I read article after article about how Bannon is anti-Semitic or homophobic or misogynistic. I was shocked and even more disappointed with the President-elect. Then I noticed a problem. The problem with all those articles is that they didn’t have any evidence. After lots of digging, I found one piece of evidence. In Divorce court, his ex-wife said that he said he didn’t want his kids in the same school as Jewish kids. As horrible as that sounds, I’m pretty sure that is what we call a biased source. Can we have some real evidence before we tell everyone we know that he is a white-supremacist?
The other evidence is his website—Brietbart. He was president of this conservative news organization and presided over thousands of articles from a variety of authors. I saw a list of headlines that used offensive language about Jewish people, women, and homosexuals. They were shocking and disgusting. There is a problem with this as evidence against Bannon as a bigot. The offensive comments were made by Jews, women, and homosexuals. The headline in Brietbart of Bill Kristol being a “renegade Jew” was made by David Horowitz, who is himself Jewish. Far from being anti-Semitic, Brietbart articles are consistently, and at times, uncritically pro-Israel. I have been told Bannon is anti-Semitic, but as far as I can tell, that is a lie.
Isn’t Bannon anti-gay? The most popular contributor on Bannon’s website is Milo Yiannopoulos, an openly gay man who believes the left is authoritarian and regressive. He calls himself “the world’s most dangerous faggot.” He is extreme in many ways, but Milo doesn’t want to persecute homosexuals; he wants to protect them from Sharia law. He may be misguided, but this is not evidence that Bannon is a bigot. Bannon could very well be dangerous. I wouldn’t be surprised. But am I supposed to think that he is an anti-gay, anti-Semite because his website allows Jews and Homosexuals a platform to reject political correctness? I don’t know what to believe about Bannon because all I keep hearing are lies.
Breitbart isn’t much help. The website is full of those extreme, click-baiting headlines that fan the fires of culture wars. Much of it is the same kind of distorted truth that people are saying about Trump’s appointments, just from a right-wing perspective.
This is the problem: I can’t trust anything I read or see on TV and that scares me. We have a president-elect that is proven to us all his lack of integrity. How is anyone going to be able to keep him in check if no one is capable of telling the truth about him? How will we know the truth if the rest of us are no longer able to believe anyone? How will we have political discourse if we keep throwing out the term racist or anti-Semite to everyone who disagrees with us. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not endorsing Trump or Bannon. As much as I dread the possibility of racists running our nation, I detest even more the fact that I can’t learn the truth. The truth may be out there, Mulder, but I sure can’t figure out where.
This is our post-modern dilemma: We have killed logic sufficiently enough so that we can respond to hatred with hate. We can respond to lies with more lies. We are swimming in a violent sea of hatred and lies. From where I am standing the waves are coming in mostly from the left.
I need a media fast.
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21 thoughts on “Stop Making Trump Look Good By Being Worse!”
Amy and I had this same conversation recently – about not being able to trust anything you read, see, or hear. It’s a weird place to be. Has it always been this way and we are just now realizing it?
Phill’s comment reminds me of the last line in the series premier of “Lie to Me,” based off of the life of that real FBI guy who learned micro expressions: “Believe what you want to believe. Everyone else does.”
Because I read things from both sides and even the extremes, I keep reading that we are ‘normalizing extremely evil behavior’ by electing Trump and by millions supporting him. But I can’t help but feel in some sense to some level that it’s the other way around. Trump is more normal than his enemies paint him and they are making him seem extreme.
To be clear, I didn’t vote for him or Hillary. Due to character issues primarily. But I don’t get the meltdowns the some are having. I’ve read his 100 day plan. I’ve listened to a lot of his interviews, including the one with 60 minutes last week. I don’t agree with much of what he wants to do but I don’t see it as extreme.
This may be what happens when you are accustomed to one thing under the current administration and you have spent literally 18 months making fun of his opposite (in many ways) and then–surprise!–he actually wins. People totally weren’t ready for it.
Also, I am positive I have heard people on social media, even Christians, claim for years that Obama was coming after their guns. I wonder if this is comparable from the other side.
Dave, I’ve been thinking about your article for a few days now, and I want to make some observations from my perspective and maybe ask you a couple of questions.
Click-baiting occurs on nearly every website. It’s part of a good marketing strategy, as you know.
Your central premise is that we can’t determine the “truth” about our current political state because there is too much hatred, too many lies being told, to be able to decide what is fact and what is fiction. I agree that there are no doubt many people telling lies and being hateful during this time. It is difficult to navigate the current media coverage of the presidential election and transition. However, there are also many people with thoughtful, reasonable,and honest evaluations of Trump and his supporters/allies that deserve our attention. We can’t throw up our hands in despair because the task of discovering the truth is difficult.
I am surprised that you seem to have lumped all anti-Trump protesters into one category. Yes there have been disrespectful and unlawful actions at some protests. There have also been protests that are peaceful and embody the spirit of our amazing privilege of free speech. Many immigrants and minorities have protested because of their justifiable fear of what may happen to them and their communities under the new administration. Should we not only denounce the violent protests, but also applaud and support those who have for so long been marginalized and are now facing an even more uncertain future?
What was most surprising about the article was the length to which you went attempting to determine the “truth” about Steve Bannon. I have no doubts about your research skills, but in my opinion you are asking the wrong questions. Trump and Bannon are public figures with enormous amounts of power to influence public opinion and, very soon, public policy. I don’t need to get to know them apart from their public personas, since that is where their power lies. Bannon may be a wonderful human being who loves and respects all people…(?). But his public persona and his professional enterprises promote hatred, oppression, and division. I spent some time reading articles (and comments!) on the Breitbart website, which only served to confirm this impression. The fact that Breitbart employs gays, Jews, or minorities in no way mitigates the damage done by the website. Members of oppressed or marginalized groups can certainly contribute to their own oppression, sometimes in very active ways. The fact that a man who has spent his professional career publishing and promoting such trash is going to be a special advisor to the POTUS (who himself promotes similar views) is lamentable and frightening. I lay awake after watching the results of the election not worried about myself since I’m a member of the group that has been and will be most protected and privileged. But I did think about my wife, my black friends, my Hispanic friends, my gay friends, many of whom felt real fear as a result of the election of Trump.
We (especially those of us who are most privileged) ought to commit ourselves to acknowledging the truth about these men (the only truth they have shown us) and to standing up against the hatred that they propagate. Yes, we certainly live in a postmodern world. Truth is not nearly as easily discernible as what some of us would prefer. But I think the more important question than “let’s get to the TRUTH about Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, etc” is “let’s listen to the people around us who are the most vulnerable, most oppressed, most hurt, most scared and see how we can love them in the name of Christ.” I don’t expect Trump or Bannon to do this. In fact I believe their ascension to power will only create more oppression. I do hope I am wrong, but until their public actions prove me wrong I’m going to believe the narratives that they have created for themselves.
I also disagree with your statement that the left is the group that is mostly responsible for the hated and lies in our society. Certainly there are many on the left that are hateful, but conservatives (and yes even conservative Christians) are contributing their fair share as well. Let’s not set up straw men if we can avoid it.
I appreciate and respect your opinions Dave. I’ve known you for half my life now, and it’s been true since we were college roommates. You are a truly thoughtful and caring person, and I’ve always greatly appreciated that you speak your mind, and that it is always worth listening to. I’d love to hear your thoughts in response to my comments. Hope to see you and your lovely family next time you’re in Memphis.
I stayed up way too late writing this.
I would like to address the comment about protesters because I didn’t have time this morning. I don’t want to imply that all people protesting Trump are violent or hateful or lying. I’m sorry if I seemed to have done that.
I know that many protesters have genuine concerns, but what do they expect to accomplish? Do they think he is going to NOT take office? I am in no way denouncing protesters, but I’m also not applauding them. What am I to applaud? The fact that they don’t want Trump to be president.
As much as we may dislike this man, we have to accept him as our president. The only alternative to that is Civil War.
Hey Dave, I don’t intend to lose the same amount of sleep tonight as I did last night on this, but in answer to your question, I don’t think denouncing OR applauding protesters is a great response to them. I think that the motivation for protest is usually that a person believes so strongly in something that he/she is willing to sacrifice time, energy, sometimes reputation, and sometimes his/her safety to make it publicly known. If observers feel that their only options are to essentially like or dislike the action, I think they are missing the point. Protest is born out of a need to make your voice heard in the most public and undeniable way. A more appropriate response to true protest in my opinion is to at least listen and attempt to understand, perhaps to engage in the public discourse, and perhaps to join or oppose the movement. To an extent applause and denouncement are some form of engagement, but they seem to require little and only really seem to widen the gap. I hope people continue to feel free to protest against this or any president, and I think protesters deserve to have their voices heard. I don’t think the result of continued protest or challenges to Trump will be Civil War. I hope not anyway. What a sight it would be to pit the left against the right in a true war. I think the left would do better going the diplomatic route there.
Not excepting the results of the election of 1860 (Lincoln as their president) started the civil War. That is what I was referring to. I’m not predicting that, but the radically different stories coming from different types of press and the intense hatred of the winning candidate strike me as similar. I don’t deny their right to protest nor do I really mind that they are doing it. I just find it ironic that the hatred for Trump is based on their belief that he is hateful to minorities.
I understand the argument that Brietbart (and therefore Bannon) can be linked to racist ideology. I don’t discount this argument entirely. But when I ask for evidence I am given accusations of anti-semitism and comments made on the website. When I look for facts I see a man who employed several Jewish reports and published articles in support of Israel over Palestine. The same goes for the hatred for homosexuals. Evidence of bigotry needs to look MUCH stronger than that.
I was trained as a historian at a secular college. I was taught to analyze everything in terms of the oppression of race, class, and gender. This is the dominant narrative in American Universities and much of the news media. Its a narrative that the Trump revolution has rejected in favor of a nationalistic approach. He claims that America is being oppressed by bad trade deals. He claims that Americans are being oppressed by illegal immigration and Muslim terrorism. The Left instantly sees the ascension of Trump an act of oppression against people of a different race, class, or gender/sexual identity. The Right (of that’s what we call them now) sees Trump as a hope for the end of the oppression of America.
Both of these narratives are to a certain extent based on Marxism, both of them are wrong. I don’t want to reject one, just to run to the other. I don’t see Americans as victims of oppression from Muslims or immigrants (although there are examples of violence and oppression.) I also don’t see minorities as perpetual victims.
We are all broken by our own sin. We are all scared by the sin of others.
Joel, I’m glad to hear your response.
I’m sure we disagree on this, but probably less than you think. I wrote the article mostly because a friend of mine of Mexican heritage was very upset that Trump appointed Bannon whom he believed to be a white-supremesist and anti-Semite. When asked for evidence, I was told to look him up. I did. What I found was did not match what I initially read.
I understand why people are afraid, but lies don’t help. They only make things worse. It doesn’t show love to those who are vulnerable around me if I tell them something that is not true.
Trump has inspired a lot of radicalism and even hatred on the right, but his popularity is overstated. He was less popular (according to votes) than the the last 2 Republican candidates for president. I think he should have done much better than Steve Bannon, but I can’t denounce that appointment based on half-truths and all out lies. I would have to do it based on real evidence.
If we are ever going to impeach Trump and remove him from office it is going to have to be based on real evidence.
Dave I think we might disagree more than you think. My point was exactly that we can know the truth about Bannon and Trump. It is not the truth that you are seeking perhaps, i.e. the kind that might stand up in a court of law, but it is truth. These men have used their public personas and power to promote radicalism and hatred. This has real consequences in the lives of those they are inspiring their followers to hate, and thus I think it qualifies as “real evidence” against them. They may not personally hate those same people, but they are personally responsible for how they use their public platforms. They should both be held accountable for that. I stand by my opinion that Trump and Bannon were both terribly frightening choices for the positions they are going to fill and am perfectly comfortable opposing them until they prove me wrong. And I am sincere when I say I hope my fears aren’t realized. I will be glad to acknowledge my mistake if Trump turns out to be a president who inspires unity, respect, and love among people who are radically different. Hell, I’ll be glad to admit my mistake if Trump simply ends up not literally empowering those who are speaking in hateful and threatening ways to act on their beliefs.
For the sake of clarity (I’m sincerely asking. It’s not that I know the answer and just want to hear you say it), what would the real evidence you are referring to look like in general terms? And please, if you find some evidence that could warrant impeachment, please share it with everyone!
Thanks for the response Dave. Always good to hear from you.
No evidence to warrant impeachment yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens.
This reminds me of college. Its like having Gowdy in our dorm room back when we had to live on the 3rd floor.
I really like what both of you guys have to say on this. It shows that we CAN respond in truth and love. That is what I’m trying to do as best as I can.
In other news, Pence was lectured at the Hamilton musical. I really love the musical and it seems like the cast handled that fairly well. (I don’t see a problem getting political at a political musical). Pence also handled it well because he has some class. He, at least, listened to the voice of those minorities that feel afraid of the Trump administration. And then Trump tweeted like an idiot about it. Rise up to the challenge, Mr. President-elect. Don’t throw away your shot to have class.
Was that the best time to lecture the Vice President-elect? He went to enjoy a musical with his family and got lectured by the cast from the stage in front of everyone. I’m not sure I agree that they handled it well.
It may not have been the best time, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. Its not like he was seeing the a production for families and children. Its a musical about Presidents, vice-presidents, and cabinet members. The cast of Hamilton were much more temperate than Alexander Hamilton himself. History has its eyes on Trump and Pence, not on the cast of Hamilton. Trump should have made it a non-story.
I think you, Dave, may have been Joel’s roommate on the 3rd floor when I lived next door and Joel would pound on the wall because my room was making too much noise while he was studying. Good times.
I see the Hamilton thing about the way Dave does. I don’t think it should be a big story. The booing (by the crowd, NOT the actors if I understand) was tactless, but the actors at least spoke respectfully. I suppose people could argue if it was in good taste or not, but I honestly think it was well within free speech and there was no reason to be offended by it. Pence handled it well. Trump was a hypocrite. He may need to do with his Twitter what Obama did: have people run it under his name but if it’s Obama who is tweeting it he puts “BO” at the end of it, to claim the actual words. That may help. Of course, I think we all believe the worst tweets are Trump’s words.
I was. And just for the record, I was not the one banging on the door or trying to study.
I have no doubt about that! Joel would come over eventually. I was always a little scared.
Yes those were good days. I try to pound on walls less frequently these days.
Trump never seems to miss an opportunity to broadcast his lack of civility.
Gowdy, I’d like to jump in an offer a suggested rationale for black fear after Trump’s election, and that is that much of his “law and order” rhetoric echoes that of Nixon, whose “law and order” politics were the advent of a 40-year “war on drugs” that decimated the black community. In her book “The New Jim Crow,” which I’m sure would be esteemed or abhored by many as a bastion of liberal ideology, Michelle Alexander presents the thesis that each historical time period in our country has contained a form/forms of oppression of black people, followed by brief moments of progress and freedom from oppression, followed by certain white people freaking out and creating a new system of racial oppresion. She asserts, in fact, that the very idea of race was initially contructed in order to make one such oppressive system (slavery) more acceptable. She doesn’t, but we could, go back even farther and suggest the same thing about land/resource control and the treatment of Native Americans in our country’s formative years. The historical summary looks something like this to me (with new or evolving oppressive systems denoted by an asterisk):
*worker bond system
*Southern “Redemption” (black codes and convict leasing)
*Jim Crow culture and some restrictive laws
Brown v. Board of education
*explosion of KKK terriorism, lynchings, the “Southern Manifesto,” and approx. 50 new Jim Crow laws
grassroots Civil Rights Movement
Voting Rights Act
Economic Opportunity Bill
[No longer acceptable to use race to discriminate legally]
*Tough on crime legislation, hypercriminalizing drug possession/use, mass incarceration (with drug laws being applied disproportionately to minorities)
This is certainly an over-simplification of historical cycles, and Alexander wrote her book long before our current political cycle, but it isn’t hard for me to see another turn of the crank.
Election of the first black president
*Election of openly racially inflammatory President (the most generous description I’m willing to give) who promises to restore law and order to inner cities (which if history is any indicator, means lock up more black folks).
Many of my black friends see this historical trend in our country, but even more have felt its effects and have an intuitive sense that bad times are ahead for them.
I would add, based on some people and policies Trump is considering for the education department, we might see black oppression in more ways than the criminal justice system. Not that that would be anything new in this country.
I would also like to say that since we are not the groups feeling the fear, I think the best we can do is attempt to understand where it comes from and be willing to oppose any legitimate discrimination or oppression of these groups. I understand that simply accepting or promoting the spread of lies isn’t helpful (though I agree with Joel that these leaders must be interpreted by the self-promoting narratives they have created for themselves until they show us otherwise. Until someone shows me otherwise, those narratives aren’t lies and they are oppressive). I likewise do not think dismissing the fear of others, simply because it isn’t our fear or even because we don’t see a justification for it, is helpful. Rather, walking with people through the fear and always erring on the side of love and grace seems most helpful, as I’m sure each of you is doing in your circle of friends.
Just my two cents, and not worth nearly as much as you paid for them, I’m sure! And since I never set foot in Goen Hall, I’m not certain my comments will even be allowed!
Gowdy, I’ll let Bridget’s reply stand regarding you question about fear among black people. I truly believe she has about as good of an understanding of that issue as any white person can have. I didn’t specifically mention Muslims in my original post because I couldn’t think of any Muslim friends that I currently have, unfortunately. Muslims definitely have much to fear from this administration. How insane is that, really? That an entire religion is under potential threat because of the ideology promoted by a head of state with significant popular support…
I don’t like speaking for a group of people in general, especially not a group that I’m not a part of, but I think you are correct that some gay people are afraid because of Pence. But maybe not just Pence. It might also be a Republican majority in both houses of congress, and the socially conservative far right in general who may feel that they now have a mandate to legislate on gay rights issues. I think that we (and I mean you and I literally Gowdy) should probably engage in actual conversations with gay people who are expressing fear to get the answer rather than assuming.
With regard to the election results, I do agree that we need to act with grace and understanding for people who felt that they had no other choice, while also challenging the assumption that they had no other choice.
I appreciate both your comments on this issue. I know you guys know me and give me the benefit of the doubt and that I’m not asking with an overtly skeptical tone. To be very honest, while I love this site, it is more covert than Facebook so I can assure you I would not speak so freely in a more public venue. I know it can do damage when people like me come across as the ignorant white guy (using “ignorant” as a precise adjective and not as a pejorative). I feel safer hear asking what you have learned. I try to get to the bottom and the truth of any situation and I often fail. I read several sides and sometimes the extremes speak so loudly it drowns out the reasonable objections.
As I said, I feel similarly to you guys on the issue of refugees and immigration from Mexico and Central and South America. 1st generation immigration is so easy to abuse that even the Bible speaks directly to it. I”m close to that so I know more. I have had conversations with some of the other groups (albiet very few, hence my ignorance) and my experience is that a lot of it is based on the most extreme way to interpret what Trump says. I do not argue back. I am wise enough to only listen. I don’t formulate arguments in my mind until later. I thought this was good place to vocalize them and ask for a more nuanced and researched answer. I respect you guys as much as anyone i know. And I will take your words to heart.
Blessings to you.