Politics & Policy

Donald Trump Confirms Progressives’ Worst Anti-Conservative Prejudices

Trump speaks at Trump Tower, May 3, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
You can’t fight a damaging stereotype by embodying it.

In the aftermath of both the Orlando and Dallas massacres, millions of Americans have been absolutely dumbfounded at the response of the Obama administration. In one instance, a Muslim man openly and repeatedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. In the other, a black radical openly and repeatedly declared his intention to kill police officers as retribution for alleged police abuse. In both cases, the administration stated that it may be difficult to discern the attacker’s true motives. Yet when Dylann Roof murdered nine black Americans in Charleston, there was no reluctance to ascribe motive. Why?

The obvious answer is “political correctness,” the short-hand term not just for silly progressive rules of speech but also for the persistent progressive habit of viewing all world events through the prism of identity politics, with the white western (Christian) world the grand villain of contemporary history.

The gut-instinct response to jihadist violence or, say, violence at a Black Lives Matter event is to ask, “What did we do to trigger this?” The gut-instinct response to violence or oppression perpetrated by white authority figures such as police officers is to take it as confirmation of the evils inherent in the system. This is why the truly politically correct are never persuaded by those who complain of the double standard described above: If you view the world as a conflict between villains and victims – between oppressors and the oppressed – holding everyone to the same standards of judgment and behavior merely perpetuates the oppression. To a certain kind of progressive, white westerners have already proven that they can’t be trusted with power, consumed as they are with racism, sexism, and homophobia.

While conservatives demand that progressives evaluate similar situations using similar principles, many progressives believe that the situations aren’t similar – that immediately granting the motives of men such as Omar Mateen and Micah Johnson will feed the racist beast, while immediately exposing the motives of men such as Roof will shame a racist culture. In either case, the true villain remains the same.

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It is difficult to overstate the extent to which this world view depends not just on selective and false readings of history – readings that ignore the power and true nature of non-western cultures and empires – but also on large-scale stereotyping of the America (or Britain or Europe) that exists outside progressives’ urban and academic strongholds. For all too many progressives, “flyover country” is the home of the unthinking conservative reactionary – the person who hates and fears “the other” and is primed to explode in rage and violence when exposed to cultural or political change. We are the seething mass.

#share#The most effective response to the unreason and ignorance of political correctness has always been reason and truth. The politically correct reading of history is so staggeringly wrong, its assessment of man so grotesquely off, that true debate feels almost unfair. For the politically correct progressive, true debate is unfair – so they do their best to shut it up and shout it down. When I was in law school I once heard free speech derided as one of the “master’s tools” used to build the “master’s house.” Can’t win a debate? End it.

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The worst response to political correctness – one that is tempting to the intemperate and seductive to the actual racist – is trolling, by which you become the stereotype you claim to fight against. This is the ethos of Donald Trump and his most loyal supporters: Infuriate your foe, never back down from a fight, and never, ever apologize.

The result is a movement built on spite, in which the desire to enrage progressives creates a continuous font of speech and conduct that works mainly to confirm the progressive world view. In the name of defying political correctness, Trump and his fans do absolutely nothing to temper the worst progressive impulses and do much to appall and repulse everyone else. They leave the American people without a morally defensible choice. It’s the scold versus the asshole. The scold feels vindicated, the asshole feels gleeful, and everyone else feels despair.

#related#Make no mistake, Trump is not beating political correctness; he’s feeding it. Every single time he insults women, attacks a judge for his Mexican heritage, passes on anti-Semitic images created by white supremacists, or indulges any of the other truly offensive reflexes that his fans celebrate as proof of his “fearlessness,” he is doing nothing more than providing the fuel for yet another decade’s politically correct fire. And by tying the GOP to his own unreason and disregard for the truth, he’s yanking from the Party of Lincoln its best tools for combating progressive narratives.

I can’t count the number of people who’ve told me they’re for Trump because they’re “sick and tired of political correctness.” But fighting back with vicious, aggressive stupidity won’t make America great again. Why not answer progressives with our best arguments? Why not be persistent and fearless in telling the truth? By trolling with Trump, instead, we’re letting them win.

— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.


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