Friday, July 26, 2019

57% Of Americans Say Trump Is Racist

I don't think that the top-line number matters much--it's not a big enough majority to b epistemically very significant. The 85% of Dems may not matter much because of the trendiness/prevalence of everything-is-racist progressivism + partisanship. The 21% of Pubs may matter, again because of partisanship + some tendency to dismiss racism. The number that stands out to me is: 8/10 blacks. Though, come to think of it, I guess we'd have to control for how many are Democrats. Anyway. Obviously people tend to be oversensitive when they're the direct alleged targets of such alleged prejudice. But they also tend to pay more attention, have more finely-developed judgment, and be more serious about the question. It's not dispositive--but it makes me sit up and take notice. Rather like I take it more seriously when Jews think something is anti-Semitic. 
   Of course my view is: there's a good chance he isn't--or at least that he isn't afflicted much more than whatever nominal degree is normal for (white) Americans. But he treads too damn close, he's got a big mouth and speaks injudiciously. The rather more technical question Is he actually racist? is, well, to a large extent academic to me. The president cannot tread anywhere close to that boundary. It's too horrible, it's afflicted too much of the (white) American soul for too long--just stay the hell away from the line. I often walk near the boundary--but I speak much more precisely, commonly aim to make a point against progressive racism hysteria...and am not president. And nobody gives a shit what I think--which is best for everyone concerned. People like me can make such points--I don't think the president should. When we look at famous particular cases--e.g. of "All Mexicans are rapists"--progressive racism hysteria (a well-documented phenomenon) is the more likely explanation for the charge. But walk near the boundary too many times, and the hypothesis will start impressing itself more and more forcefully on even skeptical people. And that needs to not happen if you're president.
   Take the Obama case. A hard-core racist would dislike Obama even if he were on their side politically. We know Trump isn't that kind of racist. And Trump would almost certainly have disliked Obama even had he been (100%) white. But would he have disliked him less had he been white (and a Democrat)? And would he have been less likely to have been a Birther if Obama had been (100%) white? Hard to say, obviously. People tend to answer such questions on the basis of their overall judgement of the person in question. If you already dislike Trump, you're likely to answer in the negative. And vice-versa. I don't like Trump, but don't think I have sufficiently good grounds for a negative answer. 
   "All Mexicans are rapists" is an important and illustrative case. First, he didn't say anything even in the vicinity of that. Second, he actually did say something that unequivocally ruled that interpretation out--specifically, he said that the group he was actually talking about (illegal immigrants from Mexico) are not Mexico's best. Thus he contrasted the allegedly rape-prone group in question with Mexico's best--meaning, of course: better. Actually: non-worst. There are other things about the claim one might complain about--but the pretense that he had said that all Mexicans are rapists is overtly and inexcusably dishonest. It's not great to suggest that you're lumping together criminals and ordinary people seeking a better life--but it isn't racist (and, of course: one can't spend all day in explanation). But that bit of anti-Trump lore goes in the list, and constitutes part of the background against which new hypotheses about his racism are made. 
   So, is he racist? He certainly could be, though I might well bet against it if forced to bet. But he's too loud and stupid and full of shit to walk anywhere near the line and expect to be given the benefit of the doubt.
   Or something like that.


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