No bait left behind: In this morning New York Times, Charles Blow takes a brave, lonely stand.
His headline says, "Trump Is a Racist. Period." Within the column, his declaration to that effect goes like this:
BLOW: Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.In his next sentence, Blow says "racism" is a word with a "simple definition." At the very start of his column, he defines the term as shown below, hard-copy headline included:
“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.
BLOW (1/15/18): Trump Is a Racist. Period.In that highlighted statement, Blow defines the term "racism." We're inclined to disagree with his "simple definition," and with his basic instincts regarding such matters as this.
I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.
The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.
So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
Is racism really a simple concept? It all depends on what the meaning of "simple concept" is!
That said, we think the definition requires two parts, and that Blow has fudged the first. After consulting with experts and Hollywood stars, we would expand Blow's definition as shown below:
Racism is the mistaken belief that people belong to different "races" and that membership in some "race" is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior.Having defined the term that way, we'll perform an additional service. We'll advise you to be careful in applying the term to various people you loathe.
In the current instance, is Donald J. Trump a racist? We'd recommend a more constructive term, a term Bob Dylan coined. Beyond that, we'll recommend pity over loathing, even as a political strategy:
I pity the poor immigrantWe'd recommend pity over loathing. We'd further suggest that you try viewing Trump as a "poor immigrant," in Dylan's sense.
Who wishes he would’ve stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
Who lies with every breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise fears his death
I pity the poor immigrant
Whose strength is spent in vain
Whose heaven is like Ironsides
Whose tears are like rain
Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me.
Even here, we'd recommend that you be careful in the accusations you make involving terms like "evil" and "lies," unless you secretly long for war and all the destruction it brings.
Is Donald J. Trump best seen as a "racist?" Is he possibly better seen as a "poor immigrant," in Dylan's sense of the term, in which he "eats but is not satisfied" and turns his back on thee?
We recommend pity over loathing as the sounder moral stance. But also, as the stance which is more likely to change the world.
Dr. King wrote and spoke, again and again, about "the love ethic of Jesus." Dylan offered a deeper insight into people who speak and behave in the manner of Donald J. Trump.
In his Second Inaugural, Abraham Lincoln basically said, Our side did this too. These are the people the world admires. By way of contrast, fiery people who "leave no bait behind" tend to produce more war.
Last Thursday night, cable was full of brave people who dared stoke the call for endless cultural war. In this morning's Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan hails their wisdom and courage:
SULLIVAN (1/15/18): Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times provided meaningful context in her immediate news story: “While cruder and blunter than his past public statements, the president’s comments were in keeping with his long-standing position that the United States should shift its immigration policy away from poorer, developing countries, and instead focus on carefully selecting educated immigrants, especially from Europe.”Everyone was bravely willing to say it! We would have been inclined to say something different. Of course, we also wouldn't have played the role of Trump's pool boy all through Campaign 2016, as the newly brave and forthright Cooper horrifically did.
By evening, some cable newscasters had become far more blunt. Don Lemon of CNN flatly declared: “The president of the United States is racist.” His colleague Anderson Cooper went there, too: Trump’s words were not just “racially charged” but simply racist.
David Leonhardt of the New York Times quickly wrote a well-argued opinion piece, “Just Say It: Trump Is a Racist.”
That said, our flailing species is heavily wired for war. We're heavily wired to see the world as Us and Them. Perhaps because of that elemental wiring, Blow accompanies his column today with a graphic headlined like this:
'Deplorable' Sounds About RightSo cool! Our species is wired to spot The Others and to call them names. In such ways, we strongly tend to "study war much more."
In closing, let's return to our clarified, two-part definition of "racism." We'll close by asking a question:
Do you believe that our floundering species is divided into "races?" We modern progressives have purchased that concept in much the way the townfolk of River City rushed to purchase all those phony trombones.
Do you believe that so-called blacks and so-called whites really belong to different "races?" That destructive belief is a major part of "the world the slaveholders made." No one pushes that destructive idea more than our tribe currently does.
Our tribe is deeply invested in that idea, and is strongly inclined to feel no pity for people like Donald J. Trump. Does that latter fact mean that we secretly long to be like him? Anthropologists have told us it does!
Blow says the R-word has a simple definition. We'd call that a simple-minded idea, but our species is wired for that!