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“crying wolf” on racism: potentially bad idea? [slate star codex]

November 17, 2016

http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wolf/   [via NC]

Re: Democrats crying wolf on Racism. Long form. I agree very much in part, and disagree very much in part. Personal thoughts below.

Just to be completely clear: I categorically oppose all forms of racism, bigotry, and prejudice based on race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

I think the author of the above makes a convincing case that Trump isn’t an overt white supremacist. I agree that, for the Democrat-leaning media to wildly overstate their accusations is enormously counterproductive, because it effectively immunizes Trump, in the public eye, against some more ambiguous but also nasty things that he did actually say.

And Trump did repeatedly get a massive rise out of the media with some intentionally provocative racist bigoted innuendo. To emphasize “rapists and murderers” in a discussion of illegal immigrants from Mexico (when in fact the overwhelming majority are here simply to work). To insult his political opponents on national TV by mocking the nationality of his wife? (With Trump himself married to an immigrant?!). Openly white supremacist, he is not. And the average 70 year old male in the US may well have similar thoughts in their head from time to time. But to bring that out on national TV, in a debate which he knew would have the highest ratings ever? Moreover, to make a point of the debate getting max ratings specifically because people would turn out to see the outrageous stuff Trump was to say? Sorry, that’s over the line.

And yes, putting in caricature-like stereotypes of Mexicans and Muslims in your televised speeches counts. Sure bigotry is technically appropriate here, as neither Mexican or Muslim is a “race”. But in actual day-to-day use, “racist” includes that too. Slate star codex guy should be ashamed of avoiding the issue with that distinction.

Slate star codex guy simply drew the line in the wrong place, then proceeded to write 8000 words to defend it.

At that same time, Slate Star Codex guy is absolutely right that the media went way too far.

Anyone living in NY can tell you Trump has had 30 years to learn how to make lemonade out of lemons, when it comes to negative publicity. And this election is further proof that there’s no such thing as bad publicity if you know how to play the game. “Suck the oxygen out of the room” was how his effect on media coverage was described – destroying not just lesser Republican rivals, but Sanders as well (with no help from a media obsessed with Trump), and eventually even beating Clinton. Given the circumstances, and that her campaign strategized that having Trump as her opponent would be to her advantage, little sympathy for her.

I return to the observation in the SlateStarCodex piece above, that the number of web pages connecting Trump to the KKK was orders of magnitude greater than the actual membership of the KKK. Talk about shooting your cause in the foot. And recall that in the weekend leading up to the election we saw a bunch of online articles on Trump with a picture of KKK guys, fire, etc., including from sources who should have known better (example).

Just to be completely clear: I’ll repeat this again. I categorically oppose all forms of racism, bigotry, and prejudice based on race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

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