I’d planned to write, right now, about a couple of Rhode Island journalists whose postings their peers should read and take to heart. Here’s former Providence Phoenix news editor and current RISD professor* Phil Eil sounding a note of calm correction for the activists with their “not my president” chants:
When you shout “Not My President,” it sounds to me like you’re drifting toward one of Trump’s most loathsome characteristics: his disregard for this country’s basic, bedrock institutions — our elections (“rigged”), our courts (his criticism of Judge Curiel), our Bill of Rights (including protection of the free press). It sounds like you’re stooping to his level.
Just so. I’d argue (and have, with him) that Phil’s tolerance of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is at cross-purposes to this ringing support for bedrock institutions and rule of law. One can’t stoop much lower than using the IRS to undermine political opposition, a non-profit front company to process pay-to-play corruption, and the Dept. of Justice to cover up that scheme. But let’s take Phil’s statement as sincerely meant and hope for it to be a teachable moment.
Unfortunately, as I sat down to the keyboard, I saw Phil tweet approvingly (and with a call for donations) to Bob Plain’s article featuring more coverage of Providence’s version of the national initiation of a new phase of progressive disruption and division. In fairness, Bob plays the reporting straight, although his language (and the fact that it’s, well, him) makes clear he’s supportive. That would certainly be worthy of donations, but less so to the extent that he’s shaping the content to appear positive.
In one quotation, Bob expands on the racist commentary of professional activist Mike Araujo. Araujo links Democrat House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo to Donald Trump, saying that the president elect is just the current face of “white supremacy,” defined as not rejecting one’s own “whiteness,” defined (it seems) as building a life for one’s family. Pointing to the State House behind him, Araujo shouted:
“Comrades, are we going to shut this mother f***** down?” To which the crowd, hundreds strong, responded with a resounding, “Yes!”
Plain then quotes Moira Walsh, who was just elected to a seat in the state General Assembly, as saying, “This is our time to prove that we can be better than our racist grandparents.”
Next up is Rodrigo Pimental, with whom I’ve had some positive interactions in the past but have never met in person. Clicking the video to put a moving face and voice to the name, the first really comprehensible thing I heard, from somebody in the crowd, was:
Shut up, white boy. Shut up, white boy.
One can’t tell whom or what the shouter is addressing, but the repeated phrase puts a fine point on the racism percolating in the crowd, putting the lie to Araujo’s insistence that progressives are the forces of tolerance and color-blindness. The Araujos pretend they’re making some distinction between specific white people and the bad things that white people, as a racial group, do, but the crowd understands that they have special license to push back against people who are white. Even in Araujo’s telling, the only way to prove that one isn’t “white” in the bad way is to be submissive to those who are not white (and, naturally, to advance the political goals of his financial backers).
So, I’d encourage Phil Eil to expand upon his wariness of the “not my president” rhetoric, although I’m skeptical he’d do so. Even Eil goes on to write:
There may, indeed, be a time for going down that road — for abandoning the written rule of law, for abandoning our own national DNA — out of a last-ditch effort to survive or prevent catastrophe.
As I wrote this morning, activists are (and have long been) sowing seeds of racial division and hatred. We can expect them to keep this temper merely simmering, awaiting word from their political leaders that it is time to rise up and “shut this mother f***** down,” to do things like this.
Instead of accommodating this movement, with some mild encouragement toward moderation (for the time being), liberals should heed the questions that Mark Patinkin asks in his column, today:
Now that it’s over, with 60 million Americans electing Donald Trump president, it’s time for the elites to face a truth.
We’re guilty of bigotry, too. The bigotry of stereotyping Trump supporters. The bias of college elites caricaturing non-college whites as clueless rednecks.
Is that any less narrow-minded than our claims about Trump? Any less divisive? Even less stupid?
Part of such an honest reassessment would be looking again at progressive allies and seeing their rhetoric for what it is. Proclamations of “not my president” raise the suspicion that people who disagree can’t resolve their differences through a peaceful political process. Sympathy for people and organizations whose rhetoric would be completely unacceptable if the names and races were to be changed only serves to prove that suspicion correct.
Progressives are preparing their supporters for war and, like true fascists, have identified the enemy as a particular racial group. The time to address that escalation of racism and violence is now, while polite people are still want to pretend that they don’t see the percolating violence or hear the racist shouts of “shut up, white boy.”
* I use “professor” in the generic sense of “one who teaches at a college or university. Phil is more of a part-time lecturer.