Friday, May 18, 2018


Those headlines were everywhere.
They're still everywhere.
I didn't bite, as you might note.
This was "All Mexicans Are Rapists" 2.0, and I'd have bet big money on that even without hearing what he'd actually said. If you wouldn't have...well...
"Our indecent president calls people seeking refuge ‘animals.’ It's hate speech."
"In reference to ‘animals,’ Trump evokes an ugly history of dehumanization"(Note that, in its eagerness to bash Trump, the WaPo can't even write its misleading headlines worth a damn anymore. English, jeez, it's a thing...)
"Trump Refers To Immigrants As Animals. Again." (Huffpo... It's cheating, but there I did it. There are plenty of others to choose from, though.)
   So...I didn't know what he'd said...but I knew that he didn't say that all illegal immigrants are animals. The NYT grudgingly retracts its previous comments with this headline:
"Trump Defends 'Animals' Remark, Saying It Referred To MS-13 Gang Members"
(my emphasis).
   Again, I say: In a little over two years, Trump will be gone. The media (and the rest of our crack-brained cultural superstructure) isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm not urging anybody to compare degrees of awfulness here. I'm saying: ignore Trump just for a few seconds. Spare a thought or two for the shameless bias and irrationality of the mainstream media. (Not to mention the train wreck of the secondary-, tertiary-, and quaternary-stream media like HuffLOLPost.)
   I mean, this is a perfectly clear case, with a determinate answer, in which the anti-Trump claims are absurd on their face, not coherent with the actual evidence, and can be easily falsified. And the media can't even control itself in cases like this.
   Also: y'know...'animals' is a perfectly fair and reasonable characterization of MS-13. Some people are denying even that


Anonymous darius jedburgh said...

We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.

It does sound rather as though he is saying that the 'people trying to come into the country' are 'animals'. And if Trump's base understands his words that way, do you really think he thinks it's a bug, rather than a feature? Don't you think a lot of his base interpret his words in accordance with the principle 'Of course, he can't quite come out and say what he really thinks -- i.e. what we really think -- because he'd be even more vilified by the liberal media'? How hard can it be for a President of the United States to speak in a way that could not reasonably be interpreted as bigoted and xenophobic, with respect to a large minority of the people whose President he is supposed to be? (Would Obama ever have dreamt of using 'Mexicans' and 'rapists' in the same sentence, unless it were something like 'Mexicans are no more likely to be rapists than any other ethnic group'? Was he just ridiculously careful about what he said?) And if Trump's words can easily be so interpreted, and his base just love it -- is that just an unfortunate coincidence?

Final rhetorical questions: how much interpretative charity does Trump deserve in these cases, give what he's said and done in the past? Sure, everyone went apesh*t about the 'Mexican rapists' stuff. But what about the U.S.-born judge who he said couldn't be impartial because he's 'Mexican'? What about the 'good people' on the Charlottesville march? What about pardoning Joe Arpaio? And so on and so on.

You seem to think that a politician, a President even, can't be criticized for racism unless he says something like 'I am a big old racist'. That's not how it works. Ask Jean-Marie Le Pen. Just because the idea of dog-whistling introduces a new kind of interpretative murkiness in borderline cases doesn't mean there's no such thing as dog-whistling. And just because, if you read carefully, you can make a case that he didn't really commit himself to the view that all illegal immigrants are animals doesn't mean the outcry is all SUPERBIASED LIBERAL MEDIA.

To repeat, I don't deny that there has been some egregious bias in e.g. the Times and the Post. Still, it doesn't really compare with the non-stop alternate reality construction from Fox, whose audience share is incomparably greater. And yes, maybe in two years Trump will be gone, but while he is here he can still singlehandedly provoke a conflagration in the Middle East, nuclear confrontation with N Korea, embolden murderous thugs like Duterte with real, murderous consequences, sabotage any co-ordinated action on climate change... I don't think the New York Times is going to be in a position to do that kind of damage any time soon.

11:15 AM  

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