Last month, in the wake of the presidential election, a reporter for CNN.com asked me to comment on the argument that explanations of Donald J. Trump’s victory that tended to emphasize the role of racism, sexism, and other expressions of prejudice in accounting for the Republican success in the Electoral College might soon give way to another narrative that closely resembled what the writer terms the Lost Cause explanation of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
That piece, with my small contribution, appears here.
To be sure, I think an explanation of Trump’s triumph that rests primarily on charges of racism, sexism, and so on in the American electorate is incomplete and flawed. There were plenty of reasons why Trump defeated first his Republican primary challengers and then Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. The list is too long to discuss in exhaustive fashion, but one can focus on Trump’s successful appeal to a sense of grievance, Clinton’s campaign management, the ways in which Vermont senator Bernie Sanders exposed weaknesses in the Clinton appeal that proved useful to Trump, and so on. In critical states Trump’s emphasis on jobs and attack on globalization, open borders, and free trade struck a chord with voters, much to the surprise of Democratic strategists and more than a few pundits who never quite saw what was coming. When asked to predict the outcome, I thought that Clinton’s win would be far narrower than some people were predicting, and events in the last week of the campaign suggested to me that there was cause for worry in key states. Trump ran the table in critical battleground states, and the (perceived) upset was complete.
Nor do I think that all of Trump’s supporters are racists, sexists, homophobes, white supremacists, or whatever. That’s nonsense and a poor way for Democrats to try to explain away defeat. That said, to deny that people who are open (and not so open) about being racist, sexist, homophobic, white supremacist, and so on flocked to Trump in large numbers is hard to deny (we’ve covered several of them in this blog). Nor is it easy to deny that many Trump supporters who proclaim that they do not share such attitudes and who resent being cast into a basket of deplorables (a turn of phrase that rightly came back to haunt Clinton as an example of stupid and mindless elitism) have remained rather quiet about signs that some people who have expressed what many find to be bigoted views have risen to places of power and influence in the incoming administration. One does not have to be a bigot to be complicit in bigotry, and those folks will find themselves in increasingly uncomfortable situations if they are sincere about what they believe … or maybe they haven’t been so sincere in the first place. We’ll see.
But, in this season of greetings and giving, I share with you a note I received less than an hour after I was notified that CNN.com had posted the piece:
You must not have a whole lot of niggers living out there in Arizona near you because back east these devils rob, shoot, kill, rape and destroy just about most of our communities in our portion of the country. They make life hell for not only the majority here in America but also themselves. They have no idea why they do the things they do, let me fill you in mr. social scientist, it’s millions of years of instinct with this race! No one anywhere in the world over pays them any mind in the civilized world and nor do they allow them to have any say in government or rule of law in any other country than the USA and with good reason. Their own people sold them into slavery to begin with. I don’t hate them nor anybody for that matter, I just really pity them but myself unlike people like you living in only the bubble of the USA think that we as a nation need to sell our future down the drain to temporarily appease them. You need to take in reality and look long term, not what is going on right now, the latest fad or the next few years. CNN is shit hole and can’t be trusted with anything real to begin with, it’s a propaganda channel that drives an agenda for the elite, the elite’s kids star on their show.
Stop hating yourself and start standing up for the majority in this nation. You leave anything to the africans and civilization ceases to exist! So, when you apply a label to ME, please remember to label me as a “REALIST” They don’t want to hear the truth but the truth is they are subversive and slowly but surely destroy America. I have no problem with Latino people nor any other race of people on the planet, they are an asset to our nation! They work and they take care of their families, two things niggers don’t do at all and their instinctual, primitive behaviors are the driving factors to the plethora of their problems. One would think they own NO mirrors as they could then look into them to see where their problems come from? I use the word “nigger” as this is what these people call each other.
MY FREE SPEECH!
Rarely has someone so effectively made the point about the beliefs of some Trump supporters as in this note.
I do resent being called a social scientist, although I have used the social sciences in my work. And, please, it’s Dr. Social Scientist, if you must call me such.
I’ve always thought that such rants are evidence that proponents of white supremacy are actually insecure folks who fear that they are examples of inferiority, as indeed they are. So be it. I guess they acknowledge that they need white supremacy to survive.