Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trump, Escalation, and a Taoist View of Political Extremism

So I've been sitting here listening to Donald Trump say more vile things about Hispanic people. His latest truthy newsflash is that there've recently been a couple of high-profile rapes allegedly perpetrated by our 12 million Mexican immigrants. See? He told you they were mostly rapists! Meanwhile, I wonder what atrocities were committed by our 536 billionaires over the same period, and what their deportation threshold ought to be.

My compulsion is to groan "what an asshole." I know a very large number of Hispanic immigrants, and never met one who didn't exemplify the hard-working, honest, family-oriented values America always proudly claims for itself but (like much else in American life) has long outsourced to its immigrants.

The Africans, the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Jews, the Puerto Ricans, the Asians, and now the Hispanics represent an unbroken chain demonstrating the best American values (while also serving as the perennial backbone of the nation's commerce). And as the baton's been passed from group to group, the majority's never failed to shit upon every one of them*. When we "crown thy good with brotherhood", it inevitably involves a hard-swung baseball bat to the skull.

* - Africans to an entirely distinct degree, no doubt.

People who say nasty things about immigrants always seem to be those who are out of touch with real live immigrants; they traffic in cartoon caricatures (much as Libertarians tend to be sheltered types who don't know actual poor people). There's undoubtedly a lot of plain old ugly prejudice here, plus metric tons of pandering demagoguery on Trump's end (he's also been going on about how awesome the bible is). But I once observed that "just because people keep proposing really bad solutions doesn't mean there isn't a problem." I feel less inclined these days to dismiss assholes out of hand as aberrations from Planet Asshole. I suppose I'm getting more Taoist; one extreme always leads to another. It's helpful to cultivate a reflex to cast one's focus on what preceded; immoderate reciprocal pendulum swings are the way of human society, and they never come from nowhere.

I am as pro-immigrant and pro-Hispanic as I imagine it's possible to be. And yet the Left's way of framing immigration often infuriates me. But, alas, I can't discuss it. Now that Trump's spewed his filth, it would feel wrong for me to say "Yes, he's an asshole, but..." That's a trope that's never tolerated by the left. He's a Bad Man saying Bad Things, period. Full stop. One may proceed no further.

The Right does the same. Remember after the 9/11 attacks, how people were trying to fathom the mindset, and some even dared speculate about political causes? They were shouted down and vilified. No. The terrorists were Bad, period. Full stop. One may proceed no further.

Yet we live in a cause/effect world; everything comes from something. Stupid angry people always have a kernel of a point, even when that kernel is almost totally obscured and corrupted. Our national divide is stoked by policing on both sides against soul-searching. Bad People Saying Bad Things are beyond the pale. We must bombastically and utterly shout them down. Never pause to consider!

And I understand this! What, after all, would be my reaction to someone who'd start a discussion with "Y'know, Hitler actually had a few decent ideas..."? There's an undeniable visceral sense that we must summarily reject that which is beyond the pale, not engage with it. No amount of careful repudiation can excuse whatever's about to be spoken. The person is marked as someone not worth listening to.

I wish I knew the answer to this conundrum. If I did, I'd tell you how I think the Left's immoderate stance preceded the Right's escalation to Crazyville. But there's just way too much ugliness, prejudice and general cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs tied up in it for me to repudiate all that before spelunking out anything thoughtful. I don't want to get any of that on me! So I'll take the lazy route and join the chorus yelling at Trump and the nativist belligerent meatheads he's so skillfully pandering to. What an asshole...

1 comment:

Muscle_Burst said...

You write well, I don't understand every sentence like "Bad people saying bad things are beyond the pale." Yet, I'm pretty sure I get the meaning. The below sentence particularly speaks to me.

"The person is marked as someone not worth listening to." I'm afraid when I mention some of my ideas, I'll get marked as such, so I don't speak out too often. I'm afraid to lose my friends.

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