A Capacious Bigotry

Warning: this is a continuation of yesterday’s rant.

Pipe bombs were sent to those Trump has labeled his “enemies” and “enemies of the people.” Jews were slaughtered while at prayer. Brown Immigrants and Muslims have constantly been demonized. LGBTQ citizens have been unremittingly targeted. Women are routinely diminished. And racism is constantly, consistently endorsed and promoted.

Welcome to Trumpworld.

Yes, I know it isn’t only here. White Nationalism threatens to consume the globe. But this is my country– the first nation not to condition citizenship on the “right” identity, the first not to limit it to members of the “right” tribes. Mine is the country with civic equality as a mantra and an ideal–even as we often fall very short of that ideal.

Dana Milbank reminded us of George Washington’s famous quote:

George Washington, in his 1790 letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., told Jews they would be safe in the new nation.

“The government of the United States . . . gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” he wrote. “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Milbank followed up with a list of Trump’s anti-semitic remarks, from the “very fine people” among the Nazis marching in Charlottesville, to his retweets of rightwing Jew haters, to his refusal to condemn supporters who threatened anti-Semitic violence against a Jewish journalist (and Melania Trump saying the writer “provoked” the threats), and numerous others.

The ADL reports a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. That isn’t a coincidence.

If lists are your thing, Buzzfeed has a list of the Trump Administration’s numerous homophobic actions: rolling back policies that protected transgender folks from discrimination in the workplace,  arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t protect gay workers from discrimination, filing a brief with the Supreme Court on the side of merchants who don’t want to serve gay customers, trying to kick transgender soldiers out of the military–among many other examples.

An effort to list Trump’s assaults on immigrants or Muslims or African Americans or women would be too long to include in a blog post.

Ironically, there is a germ of truth in his attacks on the media: Fox News, Infowars, Sinclair and other various purveyors of rightwing propaganda all have blood on their metaphorical hands. For years, they have fed the festering hate of “the Other” and the narrative of white Christian victimization that Trump has encouraged and normalized.

Amanda Marcotte addressed that tribal resentment and fear in an article for Salon:

Last year, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) put out a new report on religion in America that measured a truly remarkable shift: For the first time, almost certainly in the country’s history, people who identify as white Christians are a minority of Americans. Four out of every five Americans were self-described white Christians in 1976, but now that group only constitutes 43 percent of the U.S. population.

Much of what we are seeing is the reaction to that reality by the fundamentalist Evangelicals who are supporting Trump.

The white evangelical support for Trump, coupled with the continued denunciation of LGBT people, makes it clear this is not and never was about morality, sexual or otherwise. Instead, “morality” is a fig leaf for the true agenda of the Christian right, which is asserting a strict social hierarchy based on gender.

The same-sex marriage question is a stand-in issue, Jones argued, for “a whole worldview” that is “a kind of patriarchal view of the family, with the father head of the household and the mother staying home.”

Trump may be an unrepentant sinner, but he is a supporter of this patriarchal worldview, where straight men are in charge, women are quiet and submissive and people who fall outside these old-school heterosexual norms are marginalized. Voting for him was an obvious attempt by white evangelicals to impose this worldview on others, including (and perhaps especially) their own children, who are starting to ask hard questions about a moral order based on hierarchy and rigid gender roles instead of one built on empathy and kindness.

Marcotte and Jones are focused on that patriarchal worldview, but social scientists have documented a number of other reactions to the threatened loss of white Christian male hegemony: intense resentment of the Others who have had the nerve to contend in the public and political arenas. The election of Barack Obama–a black man–was experienced by many of these “good Christians” as an existential assault. Jews have long been a target–The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was one of the first “viral” conspiracy theories.

Muslims, immigrants–anyone who isn’t a member of their shrinking tribe–is a threat to their dominance and their worldview. They have a capacious capacity for resentment–and a capacious tolerance for bigotry.

Tuesday, they’ll vote. The question is: will the rest of us?


  1. Yes, Donald Trump, and those who voted for him have sullied America’s righteous foundation. They have besmirched the slogan on the Statue of Liberty. They wallow in the slime of self-righteous indulgence that feeds their most primitive fears, bigotry and instincts. When they can’t exactly identify a culprit, they invent one. Donald Trump invents new ways to hate every day and almost every time he opens his mouth.

    It was a perfect comment yesterday from Barack Obama when he asked why the Trump-ites were still so angry even after winning. Well, the answer is, that’s who and what they are. Trump has peeled the scabs off of the healing wounds of victimhood, abject bigotry and fear of “the other”. He did it to get votes. He did it to get adulation. I have labeled Trump’s acolytes as the 5th Avenue people: “I could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” — Donald Trump.

    Donald Trump is desperately ill. His pathology is visible to all. But those who feel victimized, mostly by their own laziness or bad decisions, ignore his pathology; they do so at their own peril and the peril of the nation.

    I keep experiencing a terrifying scenario where the Mueller investigation and the House intelligence committee finds and documents the smoking guns that expose the Trump White House as the criminal enterprise it seems to be. Impeachment begins. Trump freaks out and starts a war with, presumably Iran. After all that’s why he hired John Bolton, isn’t it? Please let me be wrong.

  2. As I watched the many reruns of speeches from the Georgia and Florida gubernatorial races I wondered how many Americans will look past the color barrier to vote for the obvious choice regarding our Constitution, democracy and humanitarian reasons for their choice. This, knowing the level of inbred racism in too many Americans, raised my fears regarding the escalated numbers of early and Absentee voters in this mid-term election. It reminded me of the reports of voter repression and possible lost or missing early ballots. It reminded me of the millions and millions and millions of dollars White Nationalist, anti-Hispanic, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-women Republicans are pouring into these campaigns. It also reminded me of my elation in 2016 at the voter turnout and that result; fortunately the Electoral College will NOT be making the decisions in this election.

    The president should be in the Oval Office dealing with our many internal and international problems rather than traveling the country – at tax payer’s expense – still applauding himself and ranting more lies to his adoring public; blaming the victims of those pipe bombs, the two Kroger shoppers shot in the head and the dead and wounded in the Pittsburgh Synagogue for attention being distracted from himself.

    During 2016, my small neighborhood sprouted ELEVEN Trump yard signs, in yards never before posting political choices. At this time, my “Andre Carson for Congress” yard sign is the only political sign in this area. Are those Trump supporters embarrassed and ashamed of their 2016 choice or are they secure in their belief in the outcome from this mid-term? Then my thoughts return to my original statements in these comments and my fears return, stronger than before.


  3. Vernon;; IF…IF…IF…we should have that Blue Wave we so hope for, would, could, should the House UnAmerican Activities be reinstated and aimed at the current Trump administration? They have sullied the meaning of being Americans to levels which may be beyond redemption.


  4. If Vernon’s scenario happens, and we are led into another Middle East war, will “we” accept it? If the Senate remains in the hands of McConnell, will Mitch lead a refusal of a declaration of war, if Trump deigns to follow the Constitution? If Trump dispatches the troops will “we” block their way? Will black and brown troops acquiesce, follow orders, kill and be killed in another senseless war?

  5. With the election of Donald Trump and his continued support by the rank and file of the Republican Party what had been seen as cracks in the foundation of our country have opened into large fissures. Certain segments of the population have discarded democratic principles and fully displayed their true beliefs, namely hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.

    After Tuesday, regardless of who wins, there will be no papering over those defects, no letting go of the truth of what we are as a people, no kiss kiss and making up with the haters, and no uniting under one banner. Our country is battered and literally bleeding. We each know some of those who brought this about. It will be a long time before I forgive…. a very long time.

  6. Abraham of Ur is the chief architect of male dominance in Judeo-Christian thought, but ours is not the only society that evolved in that direction. We find male dominance all over history in other societies as well. I am now reading up on Roman history and find that women, for instance, were forbidden to drink wine (other than among the rich), were expected to be constantly pregnant (in view of the poor rate of survival of babies to adulthood) etc. The difference in then and now is that we the post-Enlightened have had a taste of Greek democracy and the relative freedom it has brought to gender, race, creed, color, religious views since then, and we like it and want to expand such freedoms both here and abroad unless, of course, one is a Trump or a Franklin Graham or a Pat Robertson who are not only opposed to such expansion but want to take it back to the good old days of poorly disguised plantation politics and the horrors described by the novelist Margaret Atwood.
    Unfortunately, patriarchy is not going to go away without a fight, whether gussied up under the cover of religion, economic choice, or whatever. Sheila is right to call our attention to the brawl by citing how women and minorities in general are treated by the patriarchy, but the good news is that white patriarchs and their mindless followers (Trump’s “base,” for instance) are shortly (2044) going to be outnumbered by current minorities who, when added to women (51 percent of the overall population) will dominate American politics (if America is still around). Truth be told, women plus minorities are already in the majority and could dominate American politics today if some organizing messiah were to come to the fore, like my current favorite, Elizabeth Warren. Till then, though, the rest of us must resist these racial and gender and economic opportunists who want to take us back to Ur, starting with a straight Democratic vote Tuesday. It’s a start in accommodating rather than resisting change while we wait for demographics or further enlightenment to finish off the job down the road. Tuesday represents our time and place to accommodate change as seamlessly as possible, so let’s take our friends and relatives to the polls with us and both save and expand our democracy – our most precious asset held in common.

  7. We have an opportunity on Tuesday to show that we are better than bigotry and fear. I pray we take it.


  8. True enough but don’t tar all Christians with this brush nor forget the paternalism inherent and misogyny in the other Abramic faiths. In most respects Christianity has come the farthest in inclusivity with gays and females serving as ministers and leaders. Stoning of heretics pretty much a thing of the past not so in the extremes of the Muslim world. Also I would not want to be a Hasidic women. Christ was in rebellion against the traditions of oppression in both faith bureaucracies and civil authorities. Atheists Stalin Lenin and Hitler slaughtered millions. Love your God and your neighbors as yourself.

  9. If you think our country is in good hands with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, get ready to very disappointed and start practicing your apologies now. I do believe a large voter turnout will sweep the country toward the Democratic Party but the differences between Progressives and the Democratic Party are immense.

    How will the DNC use their power?

    If the cause of Fascism is the fundamental collapse of predatory capitalism as Vernon says, then any exercise toward prosecuting Trump and pointing out racism is futile and a complete waste of energy and resources.

    Sadly, Nancy Pelosi has already been dropping subtle clues and they don’t sound anything like what the people want. Populism is alive and well because the political parties have failed the people. The GOP was taken over by the Koch brothers and they will use whatever means possible to rid our country of government intervention of any kind.

    And Wall Street still wants to control the DNC but as progressive activists across the country are pointing out, the level of donations coming from the PEOPLE make Wall Street’s hedge look minuscule. The mandate coming this week is not in favor of the DNC, but it’s a mandate from the left or people power.

    From the victory, watch the key actors and their media reps try to shape the victory to avoid any changes in the fundamental make-up of our economy and only address social changes which applies makeup to the pig.

    As for the right, I’d strongly recommend reading the latest article from The Intercept titled, “FOX NEWS HAS DONE MORE TO INCITE DOMESTIC POLITICAL VIOLENCE THAN DONALD TRUMP”:

    “The problem with Fox isn’t just what it puts on its airwaves, but the impact it has on others. It pressures the corporate media to give credibility to its lurid fairy tales. It provides oxygen to the even more paranoid fantasists to its right, turning individuals into stars and other outlets into sustainable projects. And amazingly, Fox has nonetheless managed to present itself as a normal news outlet, like a cuckoo’s egg in a dunnock nest, mimicking the form with radically different content.

    The fact that Fox has pulled this off is especially remarkable because we know how it was created, and why.”

    Here’s the link: https://theintercept.com/2018/10/30/fox-news-has-done-more-to-incite-domestic-political-violence-than-donald-trump/

  10. Pardon my cheekiness – but it has been 2 years of his ‘reign’. And all I see are people proving just how stupid they are: where in the hell were you when they taught the lessons of WWI and WWII and the Civil War, Stalinism and Moaism and Adolf Hitler’s crimes and the McCarthy Era – no one paid attention? Well as someone who wasn’t looked at as WHITE by the people around him I can tell you this: I have known about his kind since I was a young child. And as for his royalness, he has always come off as a bigot, a womanizer and a fascist wannabe. We ‘Liberals’ were telling people about this all along (since the ’60’s!!!) – and NOW they ask the questions – 2 years into what could be the most disastrous presidency in our Nation’s and world’s history ? Wow, if people are just awakening to this realization; this country is soooooo screwed. omg. And NO I do not believe that the former guard of the Democratic Party are up to the task! We need people who are clear thinking not aligned to agendas – with good management skills and a firm understanding of the Law and that it is FOR THE PEOPLE not a tool to become dictators. And don’t forget when they warn you about Democrats ‘becoming a one party government’ – what do you think we have NOW? And they blame the Democrats for taking Peoples Rights? This country is sooooo screwed. Even the ‘smart’ people have become STUPID.

  11. Racism and ethnocentrism have been recorded as a part of humanity since we first started writing. Military conquest in ancient times and even modern times often involved ethnic purging.

    The Civil Rights legislation was a bitter pill for the Neo-Confederates. Ever since this legislation change has been resisted every step of way: Gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. The Neo-Confederates found common ground with the Authoritarian Evangelicals, civil rights that brought about social change had to be opposed such as same sex marriage.

    President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence have managed to stir up the toxic poisons that lurk in the sediment.

    Another example of the poison: A gunman who killed two people and wounded five others at a yoga studio in Florida appears to have made videos voicing hatred of women and black people, likening himself in one clip to Elliot Rodger, the self-identified “incel” student who killed six people near the University of California.

    Friday’s attack by Scott Paul Beierle, a former teacher and military veteran, at a busy upscale shopping plaza in Tallahassee was stopped only when members of the yoga class tackled him.
    Those he shot dead, Nancy Van Vessem and Maura Binkley, had ties to Florida state university (FSU).

    It later emerged the 40-year-old had once been banned from the university’s campus and had been arrested twice for grabbing women, though the charges were ultimately dropped. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/02/tallahassee-florida-yoga-shooting

    President Agent Orange in his past had bragged about grabbing woman.

    If there is a Blue Wave Revolution or revulsion against the GOP vote, the messy part will come when the Democrats try to translate the Blue Wave Revolution into governing. Todd, I agree with you Pelosi and Schumer are not going to lead us to the Progressive Promised Land. The Corporate Democrats and the DNC will do everything they can to defend Wall Street’s turf. I hope a Blue Wave Revolution will sweep out Pelosi and Schumer from their leadership roles and replace them with Progressives.

  12. While there is no questions that the human species is as subject to culture as to independent thought the power of entertainment media to create culture is also part of our problems and that is related to our times as well as to our proclivities. Consider the terms “liberal”.

    In English “liberal” means (according to Merriam Webster):

    “Liberal can be traced back to the Latin word liber (meaning “free”), which is also the root of liberty (“the quality or state of being free”) and libertine (“one leading a dissolute life”). However, we did not simply take the word liber and make it into liberal; our modern term for the inhabitants of the leftish side of the political spectrum comes more recently from the Latin liberalis, which means “of or constituting liberal arts, of freedom, of a freedman.”

    I can’t repeat some of the things that I have been called by those supposedly supporting freedom on social media because I am unabashedly liberal. How did that happen? Where did the culture come from that claims to be supporting freedom but actually is virtually 100% opposed to it?

    Edward Bernays is called the “father of advertising”. One of his early victories in the country was an advertising campaign to get more women to smoke. He accomplished that with great success in a short time by labeling cigarettes “torches of freedom” thus enslaving millions of women to a nasty habit by identifying that slavery as freedom.

    Fast forward 50 years – Rush Limbaugh in an entertainment role empowered by nearly ubiquitous media presence in modern lives. He labeled libertarianism as the only source of freedom and those who had any seed of racism, or misogyny or nationalism or entitlement of any kind in their soul responded to his call. Yes, I want to be free to be what I feel, entitled because of what I was born with and into even though I had absolutely nothing to do with either. Why? It’s so much easier than earning respect. It’s automatic for people like me.

    That’s what sprouted the anomaly that American history will always regard Donald Trump as.

    Enough history. Let’s problem solve. Vote exclusively blue on Tuesday.

  13. Sheila, thank you for the following

    “Yes, I know it isn’t only here. White Nationalism threatens to consume the globe. But this is my country– the first nation not to condition citizenship on the “right” identity, the first not to limit it to members of the “right” tribes. Mine is the country with civic equality as a mantra and an ideal–even as we often fall very short of that ideal.”

    This encapsulates my feelings perfectly. This IS my country, and while we have often failed in many ways, our ideals, however imperfectly applied, are at the very least intended to produce equality. This hasn’t come easily–and still isn’t finished–but MLK was correct when he said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

    This country has been following that bend for the length of our history, imperfectly and sometimes at a snail’s pace, but seeking toward doggedly.

    Unfortunately and predictably our path has been hi-jacked by capitalist cronyism and cretins in the lead-up to Donald Trump.

    I want my country back and I will not stop fighting to see it so.

  14. Once again, Todd’s slamming of Democratic leadership throws water on the positive direction the party is headed. He may be right, and I agree that it is time for a leadership change among Congressional Democrats. HOWEVER, now is not the time to go around peeing in corners. FIRST we have to win the elections.

    We all must keep our eyes on the ball and not distract ourselves with mistimed complaints.

  15. Bravo Vernon,

    Thank you for a fine piece and words that hit the proverbial nail smack dab on its head. Through both foolishness and our inability to pay attention we have allowed what could end up being the seeds of our destruction to be sown liberally. We are, unfortunately, witnessing the complete unraveling of the underpinnings of what has traditionally been America. We are on the verge of plunging into a totally unknown and previously not experienced realm of political and social turmoil in this country that threatens to render it and us impudent where we will no longer be able to play a very essential role we have traditionally played on the world stage. We’ve rendered ourselves to the status of being an also ran in a world that is on its own becoming increasingly dangerous and unpredictable with the levers that we once had to prevent that, in concert with likeminded powers throughout the world, quickly fading away. The levers that we once had that kept things that stemmed from the dark recesses of thinking that are not related in any way to our better angels and coming to the forefront no longer work.
    Even if we have a Democratic sweep that changes the leadership in the House of Representatives and in statehouses across the country we will still, most unfortunately and perhaps tragically, have Donald Trump still in the position where he can keep this downward slide well on its way to what could be oblivion for this country and with that perhaps the rest of the world. We used to have what were referred to as “wise men” who guided those in power in this country and kept them from making the mistakes that the current occupant of the White House is making every day. They’re either gone or retired and in this current environment might only be able to render a snippet of advice that would not be heeded in the first place by those that are in power in this country right now.

    Once again, as a lot of things that are happening today always seemed to do, I am reminded of Germany 86 years ago where non-fascist Germans were left contemplating the fate of their country after Adolf Hitler and those that followed him who made up the National Socialist Party in that country came to power and we’re beginning to flex their muscles in terms of implementing their own social agenda upon that country. If Trump and his ilk are not stopped we may find ourselves on the wrong side of history just as all those “good” Germans did where, regardless of what bestial things were to come, they were there along for the ride no matter how much they disagreed with the course of action that had been taken. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that this country would come to where it is right now and where, if things are not changed, we will witness its destruction and along with it ourselves.

    Unfortunately, most unfortunately, this very alternative future may end up being the only one we have unless this “thing” is stopped. America running the risk of ending up being a full blown pariah among nations because of what is happening now, right now. And like all those “good” German, bearing the responsibility of what happened to them and the impact that it had directly on world events as they played out. It would end up meaning that everything we have done to make the World a better place is wiped away in one fell swoop since we didn’t fully grasp the full and horrific import of what was happening as it happened.

  16. Tom,

    “It would end up meaning that everything we have done to make the World a better place is wiped away in one fell swoop since we DIDN’T FULLY GRASP the full and horrific import of what was happening as it happened.”

    I’ll wait until Wednesday, to offer my comment on your above statement.

  17. Bravo, Tom – excellent insights. Two thoughts in re your piece > (1) We may not have to put up with Trump for two more years after the Mueller report hits the fan, and (2) We were headed for big time change and a socioeconomic mess even without Trump as we transition from an Industrial to an Information economy, though his influence is necessarily complicating what was already a huge problem.

  18. Of course, white nationalism is a growing concern, and although I do not see total darkness by a long shot, the night is definitely coming on…You have to admit that a white population that is dropping dead of pain medication–and suicide–in record numbers, probably fears the great brown tsunami not because of any inherent tendencies of Latinos to mass shooting or raising marginal tax rates on high incomes, but for the simple reason that white males are now their own assassins, and they want to turn the mirrors of their doom into windows of condemning that specter haunting America, that specter of the other.

    However: Not sure how friendly Hindu Nationalists are toward their Islamic breathren; don’t think the Buddhists committing genocide in Myanmar would win any Rainbow Coalition awards; Should we even mention Coptic Christians in Egypt, or how lovely the Indonesian military was to the Timorese activists?

    White nationalism is no more dangerous than any other xenophobic crap, if those who espouse it have the power to do major harm to those dreaded minorities who may be cute in brochures to save the world, but must accept their fate that the fist is always mightier than the unselfish heart, and realize geopolitical realities and power plays always obstruct our better natures.

  19. As usual, many great and informative comments, however, what I see is a genie that has come completely out of the bottle and will not be shoved back in for a long time to come. The genie is hate and as dion stated: “However: Not sure how friendly Hindu Nationalists are toward their Islamic breathren; don’t think the Buddhists committing genocide in Myanmar would win any Rainbow Coalition awards; Should we even mention Coptic Christians in Egypt, or how lovely the Indonesian military was to the Timorese activists?”
    Successful voting of the blue may cause some control of the Nationalistic tsunami swirling around us in the country but there is still the ugly face of hate threading its way through our daily lives and causing disruption that will not be easily controlled especially with the remaining time left of the current administration. A united country is a long way away. Wish i could go away for awhile but adequate finances don’t exist.

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