We largely agree with Drum: Is Donald J. Trump a racist? A white supremacist? A race-baiter?
Kevin Drum says that he would go with the last of those three terms. In general, we'd agree with where Drum ends up, but we slightly disagree with a few points along the way.
More than anything else, we're inclined to say that Donald J. Trump seems to be mentally ill. We'd also agree that he seems to be a fairly obvious race-baiter—though we'd hasten to add that Trump's 63 million voters may not see his conduct that way.
Drum says he'd choose the "race-baiter" label over the other two terms. Along the way, he offers these definitions:
DRUM (8/12/19): A white supremacist is someone who believes as an ideology that the white race is inherently superior to and should dominate all other races. Adolf Hitler was a white supremacist. Jefferson Davis was a white supremacist. For that matter, pretty much everyone in Europe (or descended from European stock) before about 1900 was a white supremacist.We'd be inclined to disagree with that account of what "a racist" is. In truth, we think the term has been applied so promiscuously in recent years that it has largely ceased to have any meaning at all.
A racist is someone who believes different races have different inherent abilities but doesn’t have any consistent ideology to back it up. They just don’t like folks from other tribes (and they do like being top dog).
A race-baiter is someone who may or may not be personally racist but is perfectly happy to make money or win political office by appealing to racists.
In our view, the term has become a largely meaningless tribal insult. As a general manner, Trump supporters simply roll their eyes at this point when they see us dropping this bomb.
Tucker Carlson gets plenty of segments from our tribe's love of instant invective. We're forced to say that, in many of these dismissive segments, Carlson's dismissive attitude isn't entirely wrong.
(Did you hear the one about AOC's chief of staff saying, among other remarkable things, that moderate House Democrats "seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s?" AOC showed him the door last week, but that's how extreme our dumbness can get when we deploy our bombs.)
In our view, our own tribe's love of instant invective has helped establish Gene Brabender as one of the greatest anthropologists of the post-war era. AS if in an outtake from Being There, the "Brabender doctrine" is this:
"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that we start to hit."
So said Brabender, long ago, as quoted in the iconic book, Ball Four. This has largely become the way our own modern tribe plays.
Drum says he "definitely wouldn't call Trump a white supremacist." Presumably, he doesn't feel he has any evidence that Donald J. Trump actually believes the things a supremacist does.
We'll go one step beyond that. We wouldn't swear that Donald J. Trump has any beliefs at all.
We're inclined to agree with the diagnosis offered by Doctors Brooks and Sullivan last Friday. We'd guess that Trump is something resembling a "sociopath"—that he's a person with no particular beliefs or feelings at all.
"I probably wouldn’t call Trump a racist," Drum says. "I know I’m out of sync with leftist orthodoxy on this, but words and phrases have actual meanings and I think language works better when we respect their differences."
Words and phrases have actual meanings? We should respect their differences? How does someone as bright as Drum retain such old world beliefs?
A final question: What do various Trump voters think about these matters? We'd like to see cable hosts ask.
That said, modern cable news is a propaganda medium. In line with the search for corporate gain, such buzzkill just isn't allowed.