The Normalization of American Bigotry
Nearly three weeks since Election Day, the push is already on to normalize Donald Trump. From anxious Republicans eager to claim and fulfill a perceived electoral mandate, to the mainstream media hopeful for full press access to the forming Cabinet, the narrative has now shifted to “let’s give him a chance and see if he can deliver.”
Take Lesley Stahl, correspondent for CBS’s 60 Minutes. In a November 13th interview with the President Elect, Stahl opened the segment by suggesting that Trump’s campaign rhetoric was “not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation.” She then proceeded to propose leading questions aimed to shift the demagogic narrative to a semblance of familiarity. For example, she asked, “Are people going to be surprised about how you conduct yourself as president?” (Translation: was the campaign a showman’s act and will you morph into something we understand?)
Other examples of media spinelessness abound. Nick Kristof of The New York Times suggested that we should “grit our teeth and give Trump a chance.” Simon Jenkins of The Guardian asked us to “calm down” presumably because Trump wasn’t the “worst thing.” Even Oprah – yes, Oprah! – stated that Trump’s visit to the White House gave her “hope.”
Beyond the media, your average Joes are just as guilty. A close Republican friend of mine offered this, “You’re going to be surprised how moderately he governs.” Surprised? Surprised? Heck, I was surprised when we elected an ignoramus. I was stunned when he appointed a racist as his chief strategist, a bigot as his Attorney General, and an Islamophobe as his National Security Advisor.
Guys – this is the point. Your feckless behavior can only be explained by the fact that you DO NOT UNDERSTAND how to deal with the man we just elected, and you need to force him into an idealistic narrative of how you think a United States President should behave. The rest is just a rough ashlar waiting to be polished smooth once he’s in office.
Shh. Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of my hand about to smack you behind your mainstream media heads. For there is an inherent danger in your misguided ignorance.
What “hope” does it give Oprah to have a President whose judgment convinces him to appoint an Attorney General that was blocked from becoming a federal judge – by a Republican-controlled Congress – for calling a black attorney “boy?” For saying the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use? For suggesting that civil rights groups were trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them?” What cruel irony in the universe guided Jeff Sessions’ career to become the man now tasked with protecting those very same civil liberties?
And why should we “calm down” when the new National Security Advisor has been known to tweet regularly with fringe elements of the right wing? For tweeting that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL”? For going on the record and stating that Islam is like a cancer that has metastasized and must be excised? Should I expect some level of normalcy in our future security posture toward Arab allies?
And how grotesque of a pick is Steve Bannon to the position of chief strategist? The man who created a Goebbels-like propaganda machine within the pages of Breitbart, promoting racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia? Who hired editors that promoted white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness?
Why is this not front page news? Obama’s SCOTUS pick, Judge Merrick Garland, received non-stop coverage for months. And yet the creation of a homegrown Fourth Reich gets page 12 coverage in the New York Times?
While you all in the mainstream media have been nodding approvingly at the less-than-bizarre behavior from the President Elect (because you set the bar so low to begin with), while you have been congratulating yourselves that his campaign promise walk-backs are proof to your normalization hypotheses, he’s busy filling the swamp with all sorts of dangerous creatures that threaten our civil liberties. All the while smiling at you as he does it in full view.
So pardon me if I don’t participate in the normalization of the Trump Administration. Someone has to remain vigilant when our liberties are trampled. And you can bet the good Senators and Congressional representatives of Connecticut will be getting a call as soon as that happens.