Note: I wrote this a while ago—before the recent moral panic about Presidents Putin and Trump. But I thought I would post it because we should think about this phenomenon of trying to lay guilt trips (as it was termed in the 1960s) on anyone associated with Trump. It’s all part of the Civil War II scenario—polarization out of control; hatred and inability to communicate across the political divide. Turbulent times ahead.
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Recently there’s been an upsurge in the left engaging in public displays of shaming and shunning public figures associated with the President Trump. Maxine “Impeach 45” Waters famously wants Trump allies to be shamed wherever they go—gas stations, department stores, and even their homes.
And the trend is catching on. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Scott Pruitt were unceremoniously asked to leave restaurants. Kirstjen Nielsen (at her home) and Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao got similar treatment. Jared and Ivanka have resorted to working out in a darkened gym to avoid the harassment. And then there’s the woman who confronted Steve Bannon in a bookstore, calling him a “piece of trash.” Right now it’s everyone from Kellyanne Conway to Stephen Miller facing hecklers wherever they go.
Sometimes it edges into violence. Breitbart tabulated 304 incidents of harassment or violence against Trump supporters since the election, all basically ignored by the media. Most of the victims are non-celebrities, like the teenager who was attacked by a Latino adult throwing soda at him and stealing his MAGA hat. Most pathetically, a woman who thanked Eric Trump for raising $16 million for St. Jude Hospital was subjected to “unreal hate” on social media. The trend is clear.
Put all that together, and it’s a powerful array against Trump. We’ll see what the polls say, but there’s no doubt that many pro-Trump voters will be troubled by accusations of treason and appeasing Russia in a way they wouldn’t about hostility toward Trump’s policies on immigration. As usual, this media furor is couched as a moral imperative. And although the public (especially Whites) are getting less and less susceptible to moralistic rhetoric, I suspect that this is not so much the case with accusations of disgraceful, treasonous behavior by the president.
But let’s get beyond the “low-IQ” rabble-rousing Maxine and her minions. The most interesting case of shunning has been the treatment that Alan Dershowitz got from his now-former friends on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s more interesting for at least two reasons—Dershowitz’s card-carrying liberalism and the fact that the shunning is occurring within a very elite, very Jewish and therefore very intellectual American sub-culture. Definitely not the hoi polloi.
One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited. He and others have demanded “trigger warnings” so that they can be assured of having “safe spaces” in which they will not encounter me or my ideas. Others have said they will discontinue contributions to organizations that sponsor my talks. (Dershowitz in The Hill)
Obviously, the professor fits right in to the contemporary academic culture of the left where it’s incumbent on everyone to do all they can to prevent hurt feelings. Recently a high-end girls high school in London abolished teacher comments to prevent students from feeling bad about themselves. This is the culture of the left.
Dershowitz denounces Rep. Waters, but his main point is that the shunners were unprincipled—that they were fine with any procedure that would nail Trump, whether it passed legal muster or not. “It is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump.”
This is a revealing comment on today’s political scene. Liberals are forever screaming about Trump doing away with the rule of law and embracing authoritarianism. One is tempted to find a bit of projection in these exclamations. Liberals never seem to feel the need to provide examples of Trump’s authoritarianism, but they never seem to notice their own authoritarianism and how quick they are to resort to harassment and violence when elections fail to give them what they want. Would Obama’s executive order on DACA—after his many declarations that such a move would be unconstitutional—be a good example of what they have in mind? Needless to say, Obama’s DACA executive order has now been enshrined as a moral touchstone, revered by all liberals and many conservatives as well. Process be damned if it meets the moral standards of the New York Times. If it reflects “who we are” according to the post-1965 liberal consensus.
Trump was actually thinking about rewriting the entire immigration system by executive order but was discouraged from doing so by staffers concerned about process issues. I think he should try it and let the courts deal with the uproar, just as Obama did. The fact is that Trump’s immigration agenda has been largely stymied by a Congress that remains in thrall to the activist anti-White left and big businesses wanting cheap labor. Doing an end-run around Congress may be the only possible way out. And the upside for the left would be that they would at last have an example of Trump legislating without Congressional input.
One obvious take on this is that it reflects the continuing polarization of U.S. politics. As Enoch Powell noted long ago, there will be blood. Civil War even.
We can’t talk to each other anymore. Trump haters don’t think of the people they hate as misinformed (although they love to think they are intellectually inferior). Mainly, they think of Trumpsters as morally depraved. After all, if a person is morally culpable, there is the implication that that person is blameworthy. Excuses like having different, sincerely held beliefs, no matter how well-founded, don’t have to be considered. Immorality implies malicious intentions.
A good example is the main spokesman for the Dershowitz shunners, Walter Teller, a prominent Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and longtime Vineyard resident. Teller emailed Dershowitz thusly:
“You defended and gave cover to this president who relentlessly disrupts and destroys all that we value and causes massive and lasting damage to our political system, our courts, our standing in the world, the environment and more. In all of that you are complicit.”
“All that we value.” Legal principles like due process for the president be damned. He demands particular outcomes based on his moral sentiments—no regard to how they are brought about. It’s the same with Roe v. Wade—a classic case pitting liberals who could care less about what is actually in the Constitution and only care about getting the right outcome (which they could try to achieve legislatively at state or federal level) vs. conservatives who think the Constitution ought to mean something.
Actually, as noted in the previously linked article, even liberal legal scholars agree: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the ruling ‘heavy-handed judicial activism.’ Laurence Tribe wrote ‘behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.’ Former Harry Blackmun clerk Edward Lazarus wrote ‘[A]s a matter of constitutional interpretation, even most liberal jurisprudes — if you administer truth serum — will tell you it is basically indefensible.’” Outcome based reasoning based on moral sentiments at its finest.
The West is saturated with the rhetoric of the moral imperatives of the left. Apart from sociopaths, we care that other people like us. This is likely especially true of white people because in Western, individualist societies, people are less prone to ingroups based on extended kinship but far more prone to forming ingroups based on reputation or moral standing. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, exclusion from the group because of a reputation as immoral or untrustworthy was the ultimate kiss of death. So we want to be “good people” by fitting into the current moral zeitgeist and of course that zeitgeist is now completely dominated by the left. And if we develop a reputation as immoral, we feel not just shame, but guilt—the feeling that even if no one is watching, we feel bad about ourselves. Our internal censor is activated.
It’s been a very effective strategy. Our political rhetoric—whether it’s going to war in Iraq (or WWI or WWII or the Civil War) or demanding civil rights for Blacks—is saturated with moral rationales. And, overwhelmingly, it works. Absent moral indignation, one wonders if the left has any arguments at all for complete transformation of the West that they are trying to impose.
The problem is that far too many White people think they are in a competition to be the most virtuous person around — to the point that pointing out “virtue signaling” has become a standard tactic on the Alt Right. When I was still teaching at a university, the competition for sainthood among White academics was a sight to behold. I vividly recall a middle-aged White professor at a faculty meeting intoning on the need to hire more non-White faculty—while not volunteering to vacate his position to speed up this process. After all, if a person is morally culpable, there is the implication that that person is blameworthy. Excuses like having different, sincerely held beliefs, no matter how well-founded, don’t have to be considered. Immorality implies malicious intentions.
Cost-free virtue signaling is a sickness of White people who are already plugged into the system—particularly baby boomers who have benefited from the golden age of the American economy since the 1950s. Younger Whites, especially White men, who aspire to such positions are realizing that the system is stacked against them: Party identification among Millennials shows a steep upward trend Around half of white men (and white women) in this age group believe that discrimination against Whites is as significant as discrimination against other groups.
Moralistic arguments have been very effective. As someone with considerable experience in the academic world, I can attest to feeling like a wayward heretic back in seventeenth-century Massachusetts when I was confronted by academic thought police, egged on to a fever pitch by a visit from the $PLC’s Heidi Beirich. It’s the moral fervor of these people that stands out. The academic world has become a Puritan congregation of stifling thought control, enforced by moralistic condemnations that a seventeenth-century Puritan minister could scarcely surpass. In my experience, this thought control is far worse in the East coast colleges and universities founded by the Puritans than elsewhere in academia—a fitting reminder of the continuing presence of Puritan moralism in American life. Unfortunately, academia is a top-down institution, so this utopian moralism filters down from elite East Coast universities to the rest of academia.
However, this shaming technique only works when there is a moral consensus. In the academic world, the consensus is stifling, so that a professor who professes race realism and White interests would find himself completely isolated. What has terrified the entire political spectrum from the loony left to the neoconservative right is that Trump has managed to defy that moral consensus. He got elected despite repeated MSM caricatures as a Nazi
The moral condemnations continue to rain down on him from the mainstream media and in the continual well-funded anti-Trump protests and marches—especially over immigration which is portrayed as the moral imperative of our age (“No Human Is Illegal,” “Abolish ICE!”).
But the moral consensus on immigration isn’t there and likely never existed in the first place. One of Trump’s great contributions is that he has made the issue front and center and trampled on the moral sensibilities of the left.
Trump would be well advised to highlight the “Abolish ICE” statements that are increasingly common among Democrats and the lack of concern Democrats have had about the many victims of crime by illegals. Only around 25% of Americans support abolishing ICE, with 54% opposed, the rest undecided. And 43% of Democrats want to abolish ICE, while only 34 percent say it should keep it. Given these numbers, one could easily imagine Abolish-ICE becoming a majority viewpoint among Democrats. Trump would definitely run on that.