TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2020
The war of the all against all: In her column in today's New York Times, Margaret Renkl is thinking about the others.
The number of others is very large. Renkl offers this:
RENKL (11/10/20): People have had four years now to find out just how truly terrible Mr. Trump is. How indifferent he is to the norms of civil discourse and to the responsibilities of democracy itself. How transparently racist he is, how divisive, how selfish. We know he’s a chronic liar who, when caught out, simply doubles down on the lie. We know that he is using the levers of government to enrich himself. We know he delights in and urges on the most violent impulses of his most dangerous followers. We know he has let 237,000 Americans die on his watch and still has no plan for saving the rest of us.
The numbers as of Sunday revealed that more than 71 million people voted for him anyway—eight million more than voted for him in 2016.
[T]he 71 million people who voted for Donald Trump despite his incompetence, despite his lying, his bullying, his cheating, his racism, despite all the moral failings he proudly flaunts as virtues? Those people aren’t going anywhere, the poison-spewing right-wing media that created them isn’t going anywhere, and Donald Trump himself isn’t going anywhere. And it’s not remotely clear what the rest of us can do about any of that.
We agree with Renkl on one basic point. We think the current commander-in-chief is "truly terrible" too.
Indeed, we would assume he's diagnosable as a "sociopath," and that he remains very dangerous. Renkl is perhaps too dainty, even perhaps too obedient, to traffic in such forbidden language, in such verboten ideas.
Like Renkl, we're somewhat puzzled by the fact that so many people voted to re-elect Trump. That said, we disagree with the unfortunate tone one finds in the last paragraph we have posted, where Renkl says there isn't much people like us "can do about" all the others who voted for Donald J. Trump.
Like Renkl, we assume that our gruesome right-wing media has played a major role in the creation of our current state of affairs, Unlike Renkl, we wouldn't adopt the simplistic notion that those right-wing media "created" those 71 million Trump votes, full and complete total stop.
We're more disturbed by those right-wing media than by the 71 million others. And no—we don't think our exalted, vastly self-impressed tribe is likely to lead our failing nation out of this mess, in part because of the otherization to which we're so strongly inclined.
Renkl throws all 71 million others into one large burlap bag. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton condemned only half of Donald Trump's voters in the unfortunate remark about the "deplorables" which lives in lore to this day.
Those people were "irredeemable," Clinton actually said. To her credit, she said that half of Trump's voters had a shot at being saved, possibly by greater contact with the wisdom of us.
Margaret Renkl is a good, decent person. The fact that she has written this column helps us see the potency of the ancient, pre-human desire to traffic in otherization, thereby creating tribe versus tribe, the prelude to endless war.
By temperament, Professor Johnson is a bit more stern than Renkl. Earlier this year, he got suspended by MSNBC, and fired by The Root, for his insulting remarks about the "island of misfit black girls" who were working on behalf of Candidate Sanders who he, in his brilliance, opposed.
We hadn't seen that many women described as "girls" since the fall of 1999, when every liberal pundit in America insulted Naomi Wolf in the same pitiful way.
(At the time, Wolf was 37 years old. She had written three books, two of which had been selected as New York Times Books of the Year. Unfortunately, she was advising Candidate Gore, and so she had to be taken down in the manner described. You saw exactly zero liberal, progressive or feminist groups step us to complain about this upper-end conduct. Our astonishingly hapless though self-impressed team began its resistance in November 2016, on the day after Trump was elected. We're told that the gods on Olympus are still laughing hard about that, right to this very day.)
Professor Johnson is perhaps a bit less delicate than Renkl in these matters. And so, when he indicted the others last week, he otherized them in the manner shown:
JOHNSON (11/4/20): America, by the slightest of disturbing margins, decided they wanted to pick [Biden].
I am disturbed by the fact that not enough Americans made that decision.
I am disturbed by the fact that you have large numbers of people who are like, "Yeah, a guy who leaves people out in the cold, and a quarter of a million people die of Covid, and harasses women and everything else like that, I want a little bit more of that, and I don't really know if I wanted the other guy."
So this election really shows me a lot of really disturbing things about this country racially, very disturbing things about this country from a gender standpoint, and I have to say this:
Because if Joe Biden becomes president of the United States—and I hope that he does, because he is not a dictator in the making; he seems to be a decent guy—I will immediately turn around my hat and be excruciatingly critical of him. Because you cannot come into this White House with the idea that these people aren't the enemy. They are.
The people chasing the Biden-Harris truck out of Texas, they are the enemies of democracy.
The people right now attacking vote counters in Detroit, they are the enemy.
Kyle Rittenhouse is the enemy. Mitch McConnell is the enemy. And if there's one thing that Democrats should have finally figured out in this campaign, you can't treat the Republican Party with kid gloves, because they won't treat you that way.
I hope Joe Biden just gave this speech to sound nice because everything isn't locked down yet. Maybe Senator Harris will have this idea should she become vice president.
But they have to go into this realizing they're in a war. The war for the soul of America will not end once he's inaugurated and I hope he remembers that.
To the professor, the others are "disturbing." Also, the others are the enemy. He made this point quite clear.
A 17-year-old is the enemy; so is Mitch McConnell. From the context of his full oration, it's fairly clear that the professor was saying that all 71 million (and counting) Trump voters are the enemy too.
He sees himself at war with these others. He said he hopes that Biden is lying when he says he feels different.
Here at this site, we can imagine that some of those 71 million voters aren't just like all the rest. We can imagine that a few of those voters may be redeemable, just as Clinton said.
In his remarks, the professor seemed to leave no such wiggle room. But in his angry oration, in which the others became the enemy, the professor provided a public service of the following sort:
He helped us see the ancient ways the worst can be made to stand for the all. According to major experts, this is one of the basic ways otherization works.
We'll explore those techniques on the morrow. According to leading anthropologists, these ancient, hard-wired tribal techniques were always extremely important.
Tomorrow: The war of the all against all