Monday, July 2, 2018

Only We Can Stop Hating, Part 2

"On Thursday, after five people were brutally gunned down in a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, President Donald Trump was repeatedly pressed to comment on the bloodshed and to offer condolences to grieving family members. As he strode across the White House lawn, he said nothing.

This sets up a test going forward for Trump. Will he now refrain from heaping abuse and vitriol on reporters, and from whipping up his supporters into frenzies of rage at them? If the answer is what I expect to be, this will also implicate one of our biggest debates right now - the one over 'civility' and the appropriate ways of expressing political anger at a time when there is a great deal of it. . .

[W]e cannot seriously debate the 'civility' question without placing the role of Trump's deliberate provocations in causing all the anger front and center.

Trump's own advisers have explicitly said they see stirring up anger around immigration and race as a political strategy. Stephen Miller called this 'constructive controversy - with the purpose of enlightenment.' Steve Bannon enthused that 'our thing is to throw gasoline on the resistance.'

To Edsall's credit, he notes this, observing that Trump's race-baiting is designed to energize his base and lure liberals into using the 'racist' slur, but urges liberals not to fall into that 'trap.' But this understates the case. Out of a desire to solidify his hold on his base - that is, a shriveled white minority - Trump's racist provocations are also doing great civic damage to the country and hurting untold numbers of real people. . .

Trump is actively trying to divide the country in all kinds of ways. This is getting a lot of people angry. But that is Trump's goal. Even if the emotion at times strays out of control in counter-productive ways, let's get real: This is not the kind of public anger that can easily be managed or channeled, given the scale of the deliberate provocations that are producing it. The 'civility' conversation is way out of balance: Its focus needs to be squarely not on the perpetrators of the anger, or the victims of the provocations, but on the real cause-and-effect chain here - and on the terrible toll it is inflicting, one that could grow more horrifying."

Read the Washington Post, After shooting, will Trump stop abusing journalists? Let's revisit that conversation about 'civility.'

Don't Vote Hate (©