As I wrote earlier this week, President Trump’s Sunday morning tweet-storm about “The Squad” was absolutely bigoted. And if not for the political implications of the situation, few people would be arguing otherwise.
Also bigoted (for the same reason) were the prominent chants of “Send her back!” at Wednesday’s Trump rally in North Carolina, as the president tore into American Muslim congresswoman, Ilhan Omar. People will argue that Trump shouldn’t be blamed for the words of some of his supporters, but in this case he very much deserves at least partial blame.
After all, the chants were directly instigated by Trump’s comments and his continued defense of those comments. The president started this message at the beginning of the week, and has been bolstering it ever since. The narrative didn’t previously exist, at least not publicly. So the notion that it came from some fringe elements, who sporadically got carried away, doesn’t stand up. Their sentiment was the culmination of Trump’s rhetoric over a period of days.
But today’s abbreviated column won’t focus on the ugliness of such bigotry, because the ugliness is painfully obvious to any decent person who read or heard it. Today’s column is about those who are defending the rhetoric with political arguments.
Some are suggesting that when someone like Rep. Ilhan Omar makes anti-American statements or even spreads bigotry herself (which she absolutely has), she is setting the tone for how her critics should respond to her.
Bigotry does not justify more bigotry. The appropriate response is to challenge her rhetoric, and explain why she’s wildly wrong. And while you’re doing it, it’s perfectly acceptable to point out the hypocrisy of those in her party who’ve been dancing around or dismissing the vile things she has said.
A problem with Trump is that he’s terrible at making principled and persuasive arguments. His inclination is to attack, and when he attacks, few things are off limits. People who cheer him on mistakenly conflate his aggressive and vindictive rhetoric with strength and success (no matter how disgraceful it is), because he won the 2016 election while spewing it.
“Let Trump be Trump,” his loyalists say. It’s that “winner” perception that grants him a get-out-of-jail-free card at times like these. For some, that card even erases the violation entirely.
Case in point, you can find this defense all over the Internet right now from Trump supporters :
Please! If Jeb Bush had somehow won the election, the Liberals would be desperately trying to paint him as a racist, misogynist, homophobe. It’s just what they do and who they are now. Remember Romney’s “Binders full of Women”?
— They call me Beto (@Conard_The_Best) July 18, 2019
On its own, this statement is correct. The American Left has habitually framed Republicans, conservatives, and GOP leaders as bigots for many years, over everything from policy disagreements to out-of-context remarks. It’s a political weapon, and its use has been justified by many liberals out of a general disdain for people on the right.
But in the case of Trump’s Sunday tweets (and the people at the North Carolina rally who joined in), this doesn’t apply. Evoking this malicious practice by lefties is not a valid defense of genuine bigotry from within the Republican party (or from anyone, for that matter). Bigotry is still bigotry, even when other people are falsely accused of it.
This does, however, illustrate a concern that conservatives and others have been warning about for quite some time. I’ve written a few columns on this topic, and National Review’s Jay Nordlinger brought it up yesterday:
I’m gonna write a tweet that’s gonna tick a lot of people off. Reagan conservatives like me have been called racists — falsely and maliciously — all of our lives. So, to many Americans, every charge of racism, no matter how legitimate, rings hollow. Good job, wolf-criers.
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) July 18, 2019
Habitual race-baiting, and the cultural acceptance of it by many liberals as a political and ideological means to an end, has always run the risk of trivializing and marginalizing very real bigotry like what we saw in Trump’s tweets. And I suspect it was at least a contributing factor to the partisan crowd in North Carolina managing to dismiss the moral and societal connotations (as voiced by those criticizing the president) of what Trump had written and doubled-down on.
Either way, this isn’t a defense of those involved. They deserve every ounce of the criticism they’re receiving today.
But there are others with dirt on their hands in the world of identity politics — those (including many in the media) who’ve normalized the labeling of anything they don’t like as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. While we’re having this conversation, we should also talk about ending the free pass they’ve been given.
Did you miss John Daly’s recent trip to the White House? Watch exclusively video of the special event below. Then learn more about his upcoming novel, Safeguard, here.