“Everyday Americans”

It’s the little things that sometimes reveal far more about ourselves than we realize.

Or, as Bob Chipman put it on Twitter, “Most revealing quote EVER.”


To be clear, this is not about picking on one person quoted in Time. It’s about the casual assumption behind a key portion of the quote. See if you can spot it.

Shannon Goodin, 24, Owosso, Mich. A first-time voter who doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or a Republican, Goodin says Trump earned her support by being "a big poster child for change," adding, "Politicians don’t appeal to us. Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities, immigrants, but she didn’t really for everyday Americans."

Shannon Goodin, 24, Owosso, Mich. A first-time voter who doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or a Republican, Goodin says Trump earned her support by being “a big poster child for change,” adding, “Politicians don’t appeal to us. Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities, immigrants, but she didn’t really for everyday Americans.”

“Minorities.”

“Immigrants.”

“EVERYDAY AMERICANS.”

See the problem here?

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Some Thoughts on “Tolerance,” Post-Election 2016

I’ve been called “intolerant” multiple times today*, all because when Trump voters have felt the need to tell us they are not personally racist misogynist bigots—they just voted for one—I have refused to take their word for it.

If that’s what “tolerance” is, then tolerance is useless.

I am tolerant of all Trump voters.

I tolerate them. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to unproven reparative therapies. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to warrantless stop-and-frisk searches. I think Trump voters should be able to marry whomever they want, provided it’s a consenting adult. I think we should trust Trump voters to make their own reproductive decisions for themselves and their families. I don’t think an unarmed Trump voter should be viewed by police as any more of a threat than anyone else. I don’t believe Trump voters should be subjected to heightened scrutiny at airports just because of how they look or what they’re wearing. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to catcalling, harassment, or assault just for walking down the street.

“Intolerance” is when you believe the opposite of any of the things I just said (except substitute a different group for “Trump voters.”)

What tolerance does not mean is that I cannot criticize your beliefs or actions. It does not mean that I have to accept your actions when they hurt others.

If you are asking me not to criticize you, and not to call you out on your bullshit when I see it, all in the name of “tolerance,” you’re not actually asking for my tolerance.

You’re asking for my obedience.

I’m telling you right now, you can’t have it.

Trump hasn’t been shy about speaking his mind about the people in this society that he doesn’t like. I will never treat you the way Trump has treated or threatens to treat women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and others.

I will always tolerate you.

I will not, however, be quiet, nor will I be obedient.

You sure as hell wouldn’t be if your candidate had lost.


* I posted the foregoing to Facebook the day after the election. It got more likes and shares than just about anything else I’ve ever posted, so I figured I’d re-publish it here.

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The Limits of Free Speech

Police Consider Charging Trump With Inciting a Riot Over Violence at North Carolina Rally, Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story, March 14, 2016:

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s office is considering filing charges of inciting a riot against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for the Fayetteville, North Carolina rally according to anNBC reporter and local media sources. The rally was the site where Trump supporter John Franklin McGraw was arrested for sucker-punching a black protester and threatening to kill him.

“We are looking at the totality of these circumstances, including any additional charges against Mr. McGraw, including the potential of whether there was conduct on the part of Mr. Trump or the Trump campaign which rose to the level of inciting a riot,” Sheriff’s Office lawyer Ronnie Mitchell told The Fayetteville Observer.

At the rally, Trump asked the audience “Can’t we have a little more action than this?” when protesters were causing a disturbance. “See, in the good old days this didn’t use to happen, because they used to treat them very rough,” he said. “We’ve become very weak.”

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969): Continue reading

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Existential Threats

[The following is slightly adapted from a comment written for a Facebook post, based on this article about President Obama’s December 6, 2015 speech, which for some reason Facebook would not allow me to post. Possibly because, at nearly 3,500 words, it’s too long. What can I say? I felt inspired. The comment that inspired me basically expressed doubt that Obama has put as much thought into “ISIS and the implications of radical Islam” as the article’s author thinks. I have adjusted some formatting and added some links.]

You may be right about Obama not thinking through the full implications of radical Islam, but the exact same can be said for people on the right who posit radical Islam as a threat to “Western civilization” (a fluid and undefined term if ever there was one) on a par with German fascism or Soviet communism. Lest this seem like a tu quoque argument, I’ll even concede that Obama might underestimate the short-term threat posed by radical Islamism, but only because I believe the proponents of the radical-Islamism-as-mortal-threat viewpoint drastically overstate its dangers—furthermore, by arguing for such an aggressive stance against it, they paradoxically serve its aims. Continue reading

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An Idea for Tonight’s GOP Debate

Apparently the Republican debate tonight, in which ten candidates will be participating, will be limited to a total of two hours, including commercials. If we assume 18 minutes of commercials per hour (it seems like most hour-long TV shows are around 42 minutes long without commercials), that means that, if we ignore the time needed for the moderators to ask questions, each candidate will get 8 minutes and 24 seconds total—assuming they divvy up the time evenly.

The ten participants, according to Politico, are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.

A summary of recent polls at Real Clear Politics shows Christie in last place out of this set of ten candidates, with 2.4 percent.

I have a suggestion for Gov. Christie. Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, September 28, 2015

What it’s like to live on $2 a day in the United States, Chico Harlan, Washington Post, September 11, 2015

It’s worth pondering for a moment just how difficult it is to survive on $2 per day. That’s a single gallon of gasoline. Or half a gallon of milk. If you took a D.C. bus this morning, you have 25 cents left for dinner. Among this group in extreme poverty, some get a boost from housing subsidies. Many collect food stamps — an essential part of survival. But so complete is their destitution, they have little means to climb out. (The book described one woman who scored a job interview, couldn’t afford transportation, walked 20 blocks to get there, and showed up looking haggard and drenched in sweat. She didn’t get hired.)

Edin is a professor specializing in poverty at Johns Hopkins University. Shaefer is an associate professor of social work and public policy at the University of Michigan. In several years of research that led to this book, they set up field offices both urban and rural — in Chicago, in Cleveland, in Johnson City, Tenn., in the Mississippi Delta — and tried to document this jarring form of American poverty.

Batman: Arkham Knight Has a Serious Problem With Women, Denny Connolly, Game Rant, June 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, September 25, 2015

The terrifying cost of the Planned Parenthood hoax: “I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech”, Bob Cesca, Salon, September 12, 2015

What’s also perfectly clear is that a series of horrendously edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of ghoulish criminal activity has effectively amplified the anti-choice outrage machine, which has to include the well-known terrorist fringe of the movement. As with the connection between the protest and the attack, there’s no way to know at this point whether the terrorist or terrorists responsible were specifically incited by the videos, but it’s reasonable to conclude that the videos, while being fraudulently produced, have touched off a new chapter of unmitigated sanctimony and bug-eyed fury over Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer reproductive services for women.

Of course, the fakery of the videos, as well as the reality that Planned Parenthood saves considerably more lives than abortion services performed is irrelevant in the face of single-minded automatons who are feverishly motivated by the very thought of an aborted fetus. Nothing, in their minds, morally outweighs the photographic images of fetuses. Nothing. Yes, it’s all very graphic to laypeople, but the procedure shouldn’t in any universe morally justify threats or acts of terrorism. The same can be said about too many congressional and state level Republicans who are wasting untold millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue to investigate Planned Parenthood based on completely false charges. No wonder Florida Governor Rick Scott scrubbed the results of his investigation when they ended up showing zero wrongdoing on behalf of the clinics.

Bernie Sanders’s speech at Liberty University wasn’t a stunt. It’s core to his campaign. Andrew Prokop, Vox, September 14, 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, September 24, 2015

The new racism embodied in total contempt for Obama, Wendell Berry, Lexington Herald-Leader, September 13, 2015

Nobody can doubt that virtually all of the president’s political enemies would vehemently defend themselves against a charge of racism. Virtually all of them observe the forms and taboos of political correctness. If any very visible one of their own should insult the president by a recognized racial slur, they would all join in the predictable outrage. But the paramount fact of this moment in the history of racism is that you don’t have to denominate the president by a recognized racial slur when his very name can be used as a synonym.

This subtilized racism is not only a perhaps unignorable lure to Republican politicians; it can also be noticeably corrupting to Democrats.

In Kentucky, for example, where Obama is acknowledged carefully to be “unpopular,” candidates of both parties have been, and still are, running “against Obama.” If the president comes into the state to visit, some Democratic candidates, like Republican candidates, become conspicuously busy elsewhere.

Scaring Up the Vote, Jamelle Bouie, Slate, September 8, 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, September 23, 2015

5 Surprising Things I Learned Infiltrating An Armed Militia, Harmon Leon, Cracked, August 03, 2015

The sound of gunfire rang off in the distance. Tense and paranoid, the backroom of the Westside Pistol Range felt like an Alex Jones discussion board come to life. Amalia arrived late with a lot on her mind. She shuffled through a handful of notes from her independent research on a nightmare anti-Utopian vision of America in which citizens are rounded up by their own government and placed in giant concentration camps. “They could just take us — because they kind of own us!” she stated with certainty.

The group listened intently. A large man behind me chimed in, his words accented by gunshots: “When the banks fail, they can confiscate our assets and not pay us back,” he said. Then he added that what Amalia mentioned could be found in a secret military manual called Civilian Management.

The 15 members present were frustrated, and wanted to take control of their lives in an America which they see as spinning out of control. Most importantly, these patriots wanted to hold on to their guns, so as to be armed against “unconstitutional” orders from an increasingly tyrannical government.

These are the Oath Keepers, a nonpartisan (but libertarian-leaning) organization whose members call themselves “Guardians of the Republic.” Founded in 2009 by Yale-educated attorney, former army paratrooper, and Ron Paul staffer Stewart Rhodes, their mission is to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. The Oath Keepers’ core membership is largely comprised of active duty and retired police officers, firefighters, and military. Since Hurricane Katrina, they’ve feared that martial law will be instigated during future disasters and land every American in a 24/7 FEMA camp. Their motto: “Not on our watch!”

America’s Fragile Constitution, Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic, October 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, September 22, 2015

Nativism: Everywhere the Enemy of Human Rights, Jack Healey, Huffington Post, September 17, 2015

Though we are a nation of immigrants, a segment of the American people has always wanted to walk through the door and then close it behind them, keeping everyone else out. This segment dates back most clearly to the nativist movement that took place in the years leading up to the Civil War. When the nativists have their way, the US stops being a nation united by principles of freedom and justice. We are unfortunately witnessing a resurgence of these politics. An understanding of their history, and the history of their defeat, could help to embolden the contemporary generation.

Only a few decades after the American Revolution, the “bad’ folk were the Irish escaping from the famine and British oppression. Many of the nativists of that time were Protestant, mostly Presbyterian and Lutheran, living in Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. One of the strangest parts of their story was their flag, which carried the banner “Native Americans Beware of Foreign Influence.” Of course, none of the nativists were American Indians. In fact, Indians were branded as “bad’ folks as well.

“Lean the f*** away from me”: Jessica Williams, “impostor syndrome” and the many ways we serially doubt women, Katie McDonough, Salon, February 18, 2015 Continue reading

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