Just Because Trump is Wrong, Doesn’t Mean You’re Right.

It’s true that Trump is an idiot who lacks all understanding of nuance, but it’s also true that in confronting him, many people also forego any understanding of nuance…

Trump’s last press conference about Charlottesville was indeed disastrous, however, cliched as it may be, even a broken clock is right once in a while (twice a day to be precise…)

Now…Trump is probably not wrong when he claims that some of the protesters at Charlottesville weren’t ‘bad’ or ‘violent’ people. I can understand that. It’s easy for me to imagine that some of the protesters were not, in fact, Neo-Nazis or White Supremacists. It’s easy to imagine that some (a few?) of them really were there because to them, the statue of Robert Lee matters, and they think there’s something there to be proud of, and they’re against removing it because it’s part of their history, and they think that their history, for better or worse, is something to be proud of. All of this is conceivable to me. I have yet to see ANY liberal or democratic media admit that this basic premise might be true.

Now, what is ALSO true is that Trump’s understanding of this basic possibility lacks nuance because, clearly, when something like this is stated, it needs to be qualified. What Trump needs to have said is that ALTHOUGH some non-violent protesters might have been there to simply protest the removal of a statue, those Confederate protesters need to understand that although they themselves might not be racist or condone racism or violent crime against non-whites, they are supporting a historical mindset that implicitly empowers and condones those who are, in fact, racist and who preach violence against non-whites.

Naturally, of course, Trump did no such thing. It’s possible that he’s simply blind to nuance. It’s also possible, given his retweets and his alliances with people like Steve Bannon, that he consciously (or not) harbors some of these views and therefore sees nothing inherently wrong with them. It’s also possible that, as others have surmised, he simply knows that these kinds of people constitute a sizable portion of his base and he doesn’t want to risk losing their support, even if in doing so he might have a chance at getting some support from a much wider swath of the audience.

The point is that no matter how badly Trump behaves, no matter how blind he is to nuance, none of it excuses the blindness some on the left have exhibited when reacting to him. It’s not right to automatically assume that every single person in that protest was a Nazi (even though, clearly, many were), and it’s not right to assume that they were all White Supremacists (even though, again, clearly many were), and it’s not right to assume that all of them (including the Neo-Nazi’s and the White Supremacists) were there with an explicit intent to be violent.

Just because Trump is an idiot, doesn’t mean we have to be idiots when we’re talking to him, or about him. In doing so, we get farther and farther away from reaching anybody who we might otherwise have been able to reach. Idiocy is polarizing.

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  1. Avatar

    Naela Elmore

    Strongly agree with your thesis. The Media is known to twist the truth to fit its propoganda platform, be it Liberal or Conservative. I do question though, what do you say to the video statement that has been aired where the organizer of the protest clearly stated that all participants in the protest have joined the march with the express intent to protect General Lee’s statue through whatever means necessary, be it harm or murder? The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that freedom of speech is a protected constitutional right entitled to all. The exception to this is when speech presents a clear and present Danger. So when you have individuals coming together with the express intent to create and incite violence through their words and actions, are they still entitled to the benefit of the doubt?

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      My point is that it’s quite easy for some misguided (but non-violent) protesters to get caught up in such events. I have no doubt that the organizer of the protest would like to present a united front, and would like the media to believe that everybody that showed up subscribes to the organizers’ views and is willing to condone their methodologies, but that doesn’t make it true. I am generally of the view that speech, in general, very rarely presents a clear and present danger, and have argued in the past, for example, that Charles Manson (whether or not we approve of him) should not be held accountable for crimes committed by his followers since they were not in his employ, and, to my knowledge, were not coerced into committing the crimes they chose to commit. Manson should have been held guilty for anything he does, not for the actions of those he might have influenced. I can say that I hate Trump and wish him dead, should that make me accountable if somebody decides to kill him as a favor to me? That strikes me as absurd. We might as well hold Jodie Foster accountable for that guy who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan.

      During the early days of the revolution (or the attempt at revolution in Egypt) and around the time after Mubarak’s second speech, I was stuck on the Kasr El Nil bridge in Cairo in the middle of a crowd of around a thousand people who were attacking Tahrir. I was part of Tahrir, but had been out earlier that day, and was trying to make my way back in. I didn’t declare my allegiance as I tried to make my way back into the square, because, within the hostile crowd on the bridge, doing so would have been suicidal. However, while those around me threw stones into Tahrir, I helped calm things down, and eventually, the violence subsided. When that happened, many of the most hostile aggressors (in this case, we can rightly refer to them as counter-protesters) quite simply left the area. Left behind, were about 50-100 people, with whom I was able to engage in sincere conversations, and these people, the ones left over after the more ‘thuggish’ elements departed, were not there to kill anybody, were not inherently violent and were simply against the Tahrir protests because they were worried about their daily livelihoods and, although they disliked him, were willing to give Mubarak a chance after they’d heard him talk.

  2. Avatar

    Naela Elmore

    So when you say that speech rarely presents a clear and present danger, does that mean you do not believe that words can provoke imminent lawless action? In other words, do you not agree that speech can be deemed a protected right unless it advocates violence and illegal acts? I am of the belief that when it comes to freedom of speech, it is a protected human right unless the speaker intends for his words to incite imminent violence and lawless actions.

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      We can’t criminalize intent, we criminalize actions.

      You lost me the second you spoke about speaker ‘intent’.

      • Avatar

        Naela Elmore

        Intent, as in someone saying something with the resolved determination to garner a reaction from his words. Using hate speech as an example, an individual can incite prejudicial acts against or violence towards specific minorities through his words. Such speech would be deemed unprotected and harmful speech for the individual in question knowingly conducts in hate speech with the express “intent” to attack someone on the basis of their race, religion, gender, etc. When it comes to the US legal system, intent; also referred to as malice aforethought in criminal law, is necessary when it comes to establishing someone’s liability to a crime. I’m not saying that words themselves are criminalized, but words lead to actions. No one intends to partake in hate speech without the expectation of garnering a specific reaction, be it violent or not.

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