Friday, September 02, 2016

Donald Trump and Lies and Identity Politics Run Amok

If there is anything positive about the rise of Donald Trump it is perhaps the fact that it has caused same, non-racist, and non-religious extremist conservatives to perhaps recognize the poison that the Republican Party has been sowing for years albeit without the open hatred and vileness of Trump and his base of support.  Whether this realization will last beyond Trump's hopeful defeat will have to be seen.  Will these same conservatives who rail against Trump's GOP positions on steroids conveniently forget the dangers of and damage done by racism, religious extremism and identity politics after the demise of Trump?  A conservative columnist in the New York Times laments Trump and his policies of racial division.  Sadly, he was an apologist for the GOP for years.  Here are excerpts from his column which hopefully he and others will remember in the years to come: 
Once, I seem to recall, we had philosophical and ideological differences. Once, politics was a debate between liberals and conservatives, between different views of government, different views on values and America’s role in the world.
But this year, it seems, everything has been stripped down to the bone. Politics is dividing along crude identity lines — along race and class. Are you a native-born white or are you an outsider? Are you one of the people or one of the elites?
Politics is no longer about argument or discussion; it’s about trying to put your opponents into the box of the untouchables.
Donald Trump didn’t invent this game, but he embodies it. His advisers tried to dress him up on Wednesday afternoon as some sort of mature summiteer. But he just can’t be phony.
By his evening immigration speech he’d returned to the class and race tropes that have defined his campaign: that the American government is in the grips of a rich oligarchy that distorts everything for its benefit; that the American people are besieged by foreigners, who take their jobs and threaten their lives.
Trump argues that immigration has sown chaos across middle-class neighborhoods. This is false. Research suggests that the recent surge in immigration has made America’s streets safer. That’s because foreign-born men are very unlikely to commit violent crime.
According to one study, only 2 or 3 percent of Mexican-, Guatemalan- or Salvadoran-born men without a high school degree end up incarcerated, compared with 11 percent of their American-born counterparts.
Trump argues that the flood of immigrants is taking jobs away from unskilled native workers. But this is mainly false, too. . . . . That’s because immigrants flow into different types of unskilled jobs. Unskilled immigrants tend to become maids, cooks and farm workers — jobs that require less English. Unskilled natives tend to become cashiers and drivers. If immigrants are driving down wages, it is mostly those of other immigrants.
Trump claims the rich benefit from immigration while everyone else suffers. Doctors get cheap nannies, everyone else gets the shaft.  This is false, too. The fact is, a vast majority of Americans benefit. A study by John McLaren of U.Va. and Gihoon Hong of Indiana University found that each new immigrant produced about 1.2 new jobs, because immigrants are producers and consumers and increase overall economic activity. . . . The cities that are doing best economically work hard to attract new immigrants because the benefits are widely shared.
Identity politics distorts politics in two ways. First, it is Manichaean. It cleanly divides the world into opposing forces of light and darkness. You are a worker or an elite. You are American or foreigner. . . . Seeing this way is understandable if you are scared, but it is also a sign of intellectual laziness. The reality is that people can’t be reduced to a single story. An issue as complex as immigration can’t be reduced to a cartoon.
Second and most important, identity politics is inherently the politics of division. But on most issues — whether it is immigration or the economy or national security — we rise and fall together.  
Identity politics, as practiced by Trump . . . . corrodes the sense of solidarity. It breeds suspicion, cynicism and distrust.  Human beings are too complicated to be defined by skin color, income or citizenship status. Those who try to reduce politics to these identities do real violence to national life.
Intellectual laziness.  The term personifies the Christofascists and even most white supremacists who cling to myths and an imaginary time that in reality never existed.  But they prefer to cling to such beliefs because it dispenses with the need to think for one's self and to have to analyze facts and circumstances.  Indeed, ignorance is bliss to these people. 

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