Sunday, July 03, 2016

Trump's "Anti-Semitic" Tweet

Even CNN can't bring itself to say that this is actually anti-Semitic. I thought the star looked like a sheriff's badge or something.
God Twitter is dumbifying.


Blogger The Mystic said...

Oh THAT'S what they're talking about! I looked at that tweet for like 2 solid minutes trying to figure out what I was missing that made it anti-semitic.

I see.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Darius Jedburgh said...

'10 days earlier, the same graphic appeared on an Internet message board loaded with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and neo-Nazi ideology.'

So the six-pointed star thing is just a coincidence? I know there's such a thing as being oversensitive, and there's a lot of it about; but there's also such a thing as being undersensitive, and unattuned to a standard tactic of applying a thin veneer of plausible deniability (in case you're wondering why it wouldn't be more blatant if it were really antisemitic). I would bet a lot of money that this six-pointed star was originally intended to evoke Israel/Jewish people. This is not to say that it was retweeted by Trump with antisemitic intent. That borders on the preposterous. But to deny that whoever originally composed the graphic had antisemitic intent strikes me as almost as preposterous -- as well as unnecessary for exculpating Trump from anything worse than negligence.

I'm starting to get really baffled by your special pleading on Trump's behalf, Winst.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are a lot of Jews who didn't have to look at that image long to see what it was about, but I noticed that Lewondowski said on CNN today that outrage about the Star of David tweet is just "political correctness". Since this blog has become so focused on attacking political correctness, I think a fair question is when calling critics of statement X "PC" is merely a shield for racists and bigots to defend themselves against legitimate criticism that statement X is in fact racist/bigoted. Another way to put this concern is: how do opponents of PC distinguish racist/bigoted statements from statements that are only politically incorrect? Before the Star of David tweet it was Trump calling a judge from Indiana the "Mexican" judge and saying he's biased because of his heritage. Before that it was Trump saying that all Muslims should be banned from the United States. And I could go on and on. How do you suggest minorities who feel attacked by Trump based on their religion or ethnicity should respond to his statements? Should we just give him a pass, give him the benefit of the doubt because we can't read his mind and he hasn't actually come out and explicitly spoken about his hatred of certain minority groups? I'm serious. How would opponents of PC advise minorities to respond to these kind of statements when they feel that they are under attack? My hunch is that the anti-PC movement has gone too far in opposing PC and that they've empowered and legitimized racist and bigoted rhetoric. When you can't even call this crap out without being dismissively labeled PC, almost in a knee-jerk fashion, there's a serious problem with the rhetoric around PC. It's become way too easy to shut people down with this label and it's a reflection of very sloppy thinking. So whatever usefulness critiques of PC may have had, it seems to me that anti-PC has created its own serious problems. Or am I missing something?

3:11 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

So wait, what's the critique of Trump here? That he employed an anti-Hillary graphic which is, itself, only in the vaguest possible way related to anti-Semitism, but which appears to have been extracted from a site (at some point in the chain of events leading to Trump's possession of it) wherein one can find a lot of content which is clearly anti-Semitic?

I agree with you that we should be wary of granting an absurdly charitable benefit of the doubt, but that seems to be pretty oversensitive to me.

And really, though WS is wary of making practical arguments, and I respect this, I am less so, so have at thee:

I think we have copious evidence to indicate that Trump is absolutely not above evoking racist imagery to attract racist voters. In fact, I think it's pretty clearly established that his bullshitting efforts are not limited in any way by considerations of racism (or any other rational flaw) by virtue of his sustained contention that a judge with some Mexican ancestry can't be trusted to render an objective opinion about his business ventures given his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border.

So given that, it is a very poor rhetorical choice to attempt to hold his feet to the fire in situations where it grants him not only the opportunity to reasonably deny any racist intent, but also to attack a known flaw (that of an over-eagerness to sling accusations of racism) prevalent among his opponents.

You could hardly do anything more conducive to his attraction of racists, in my estimation, than to assert that something only vaguely and possibly racist is obviously and overtly racist. If there were a dog whistle for racists, it would be that, for it strikes them as indication that everyone knows what's really up (e.g. Jews are evil money grubbers secretly controlling our political system) and their liberal thought police defenders have to shout down even a merely plausible representation of this alleged fact in order to keep people from talking about it and realizing it's true.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Ha ha! [rips off shirt to reveal Make America Great Again shirt underneath] finally I can reveal my evil plan!

9:15 AM  
Blogger Darius Jedburgh said...

I knew it!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

There's nothing you can do to stop it now, Jedburgh.

[produces white cat; pets it evilly.]
I have dozens of readers! DOZENS!

And with my plans for that laser base on the moon... Victory for Trump is assured!

12:23 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Here's what I think:

1. Since when is HRC Jewish?

2. I could have looked at that thing all day and not thought it was anti-Semitic...largely because of 1.

3. also appears at an antisemitic site, where, I take it, the anti-Semitic angle is intentional. In fact it's the point.

4. There's no denying that the intention of the thing itself is antisemitic.

(But it doesn't entail that Trump's intention was antisemitic.)

And, as A points out:
5. Jewish folk would probably discern the intent pretty easily.

To my mind, the most important thing this shows is that:
6. I'm not very good at this.

But other people might be more interested in 4 (above).

Though also:
7. This says almost nothing about Trump, I think.

Some jackass in charge of his Twittering found some anti-Hillary thing...and they'll post any anti-Hillary thing they can get their hands on.

Trump just spews word, including insults. Even to the extent that he controls his campaign's tweets, he probably doesn't mean anything antisemitic. He's probably like me (if he's involved in twittering at all) and didn't see the antisemitic angle. If he was involved at all, he just saw some anti-Hillary copypasta and spewed it out.

He's said a bunch of other racist and quasi-racist shit, so I don't see that he's above this stuff. I just doubt that he's some kind of committed racist. He's just an angry jackass who gets mad and grabs at whatever's handy. And that often includes stuff with a racial angle. Now, since I grew up around people who were pretty dedicated racists...they didn't just say it because they were mad...they hated e.g. black people. I was a matter of principle.

I put Trump in a different category. Not, y'know, a *completely* different category... But a *somewhat* different category.

He's just a dick who doesn't censor his dickishness when it goes in the direction of race or sex. Personally, I think of that just in terms of being a dick. A dick who is a dick in a racial or sexual way is just a dick in my book. I don't think that race and sex are special categories. Taking those angles does not, IMO, make you a worse dick.

Now, if he really were a committed racist whose world-view rested in part on principles about the inferiority of certain races (or of women), that'd be different. But I don't see that in the guy.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mystic, you didn't make much sense to me with that comment. The critique of Trump is that he's now sending anti-semitic messages as part of his campaign. You mentioned a "dog whistle". Bingo! So what's the problem? If this critique attracts more racists and white supremacists to Trump, then I guess I can live with that. I can't exactly blame them. He's their man. But I don't understand the argument you're trying to make.

WS -- the point that HRC is not Jewish doesn't matter right? The tweet is sending the message, at a minimum, that she is controlled by Jewish money. Even without knowing the source of the image, and even if Trump had never said the dozens of other racist/bigoted things he's said, I think we can conclude that this message on its face is anti-semitic. I get your point that this was a campaign staff level decision. Trump himself didn't send this tweet unless he's really got too much time on his hands and running an even worse campaign than we imagined. The issue though is that his campaign continues to send racist and bigoted signals to its base, Trump never condemns or apologizes for any "mistake" by his campaign when it retweets white supremacists or recycles their images, and Trump often sends racist/bigoted messages himself. I don't know. I always thought that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck...

Thought police signing off. Over and out.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Sure, that's the concern obviously...I just don't buy it. I think that Trump's inclination--and it's reflected in his campaign--is to just spew out attacks on his opponents. He is, first and foremost, a loudmouth and an asshole. Well..those are two things...but anyway... He will say absolutely any bad thing he can think of about his opponents. And he's got a much less fine-grained filter than most of us when it comes to race / sex / etc.

I just don't buy the explanation beloved of the left that everything is a "dog whistle." IMO the dog whistle explanation is just too easy.

The left is obsessed with race, sex, etc., so they think that everybody else is, too. I think that it's more plausible that Trump is *insufficiently* concerned about that stuff. He and his campaign *didn't* see the antisemitic angle because they don't obsess about that stuff like the left does.

That, too, may be an error--it was in this case. But it's a different error than he's being accused of.

I'm not sure about this, of course.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Also, he has a well-established pattern of linking HRC to corruption, whereas he seems to have no history of antisemitism.

Which means the Hilary/corruption angle of the thing is a better explanation of why he "tweeted" (egad) it than the antisemitic angle.

7:10 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

My point was that the mere use of a geometric figure resembling a Jewish icon along with absolutely no additional context even suggesting anti-Semitism whatsoever, is not obviously and overtly anti-Semitic.

To allege that it is so, seems to me, to be at worst unwarranted and hypersensitive and at best a rhetorical mistake.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I sort of switched sides on this a bit but now I'm back to something like: you'd need more than the image itself to justify a charge of antisemitism.

We got that something else when we were informed that the Trump folks got it form a white supremacist website.

But then I read that that's incorrect. Rather, it *appeared* early on a site that had lots of antisemitic content...

So that's very different.

But without that collateral information, I don't think I'd have been convinced of the antisemitism hypothesis.

I know about the Jews/money stereotype...but I did *not* know about any Jews/corruption stereotype.

People seem to be saying that the link there is Jews/conspiracies // conspiracies/corruption... Or something.

That seems like a stretch to me...but, then, honestly, it'd help to hear the opinions of people who are both Jewish and level-headed. I do think that we tend to become attuned to slurs against ourselves that we've heard over and over. (Of course that can lead us into false positives too...)

I do think this is kind of a theoretical question because I just don't buy that Trump's a committed bigot. But my thinking's getting less and less clear on all this.

12:05 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

It seems pretty simple to me: this evidence is far too flimsy to conclude racist intent. It's a geometric shape which resembles the Star of David.

That's it. There's no explicit reference to Jewish people. Hillary is not a Jewish person. There is no critique of anything other than Hillary's purported money-based corruption.

You might argue, and you might even be right, that the creator of this image intentionally used a geometric figure resembling the Star of David as a referential hint regarding Jewish people, and you might even be right that the person believes that it is somehow principally Jewish money that is the corrupting influence over HRC, but that does not mean this is an obviously, overtly, or even explicitly racist image.

At best, it is a covertly racist image whose subtle reference to racism can be reasonably suspected to have evaded the detection of many, if not most, of those who have observed it. Even educated folks who are reasonably up to speed on common racist themes regarding the Jewish people could be expected to observe this image and think nothing of whatever covert racist intent it may represent.

The message itself, free from any additional context, is simply not in any way obviously racist. It's just not. If you were shown this image in a series of racist and non-racist images, you would not be in any way at fault to conclude that this is not a racist image.

If the challenge were "Figure out how this image conveys a racist motif," then one so challenged could be expected to come up with the link between a Star of David, money, and corruption. On the other hand, if the challenge were "Determine whether or not one ought to believe this image was created to convey a racist motif," then the question should probably be answered in the negative; there is not enough evidence to conclude such a thing.

And that's why it's a rhetorical mistake to accuse the creator, and much less, the disseminator, of any intent to convey a racist message with the image. This is especially true with the case of someone like trump, who is willing to sling overt racism when it suits him, and who reaps the benefits of even the most negligibly plausible deniability.

This one's too plausible.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mystic, you're just wrong. You're just clearly, obviously, irrefutably, undeniably, unambiguously wrong. Ok, ok, I'll stop being a jerk. But you do protest too strongly. A better argument would be something along the lines of: tweeting the image may have been a mistake since Trump's social media staff didn't notice how this image could be interpreted as being anti-semitic. It sure appears anti-semitic to a lot of people, so it would have been better not to post it. Honest mistake. Try to do better next time, boys.

A better test of whether this is anti-semiitic on its face than how the average person would react to this message is how Jews reacted when they see it. It's not how gentiles like myself reacted since we are unlikely to be familiar with anti-semitic imagery and stereotypes, even though this is a pretty well-worn, old one. I'm not Jewish, I don't know if you or WS are Jewish, but I'm guessing neither of you are. A lot of Jews who saw this knew right away what a star shaped like the star of David over a pile of money accusing Hillary of being corrupt meant. See, for example, the open letter to Jared Kushner by one of the NY Observer's journalists. But even many gentiles saw this as anti-semitic right away. I did. I guess I'm just over-sensitive, right Mystic?

Look, do I think this in itself is the worst thing in the world? No, I don't. But in light of so much other vile crap Trump and his campaign have vomited up to the world in their attempt to work in the West Wing and take rides on Air Force One, I think it's reasonable to conclude that this is another outrageous example of Trump using racial and ethnic and religious rhetoric in ways that are stirring up hatred. What are their intentions? I can't prove it, but I suspect Trump is one of those guys who probably says things like, "The Jews own the media, they've rigged our political system, they totally own Hillary." WS, you don't see Trump that way, which I respect, but neither of us really know Trump's intent. All I have to go on is the way he acts and things he says, and I can see him holding nasty stereotypes of Jews, just as I think he probably holds bigoted views of Muslims and Mexicans. Maybe he's not the worst or most committed racist/bigot, but it's not terribly implausible to me that this guy has a lot of hate for a lot of people. And again, this is based on hearing things the man has said, watching how he's acted. He sure often sounds like a racist and a bigot to me. But we can agree to disagree on this one.

This isn't just the left screaming racism and bigotry every time they get the chance. I don't like PC, as far as I understand what people mean by "PC", but this has nothing to do with PC. Many Republicans, even Speaker Ryan, have condemned Trump's use of race and religion. Seems to me that sometimes hateful rhetoric is hateful rhetoric and not some leftist conspiracy or irrational oversensitivity.

10:43 PM  

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