The Wrong Side of History

With all of his faults, Trump is not on the side that defaces Cervantes statues and makes people terrified to put a like on a tweet. It’s not Trump supporters running around, looting, assaulting, destroying, and terrorizing. It’s not Trump voters that get people fired for Facebook posts.

I hope nobody, nobody ever mentions how Trump is an authoritarian in my presence ever again. Because there’s a limit to how much stupidity I can listen to.

24 thoughts on “The Wrong Side of History”

    1. // He’s an authoritarian, but his real authority is very limited.

      Or an amateur actor with some talent playing the role of an authoritarian… Lately, the mask has been slipping too much to ignore.

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      1. The other day I was just thinking about how astounding it is that Donal Trump is our president. What you say is absolutely right; when you really take a step back and think about his qualifications and leadership experience, you realize how completely out of his depth he really is. He was never a mayor, governor, senator, judge, military leader, nothing. Just a businessman who used his family fortune to make himself slightly richer while being a charismatic reality TV celebrity. Simply amazing all things considered.
        It will be very interesting to see what academics of the future make of this.

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        1. “He was never a mayor, governor, senator, judge, military leader, nothing. Just a businessman …”

          I can appreciate that this is an anti-Trump partisan talking point but it doesn’t actually mean anything. Of course, professional politicians believe that elected office should be restricted to their caste. Most politicians are narcissistic sociopaths whose entire lives have been devoted to living large off the state and who don’t have any regard whatsoever for the public interest. Many/most successful “businessmen,” on the other hand, have been responsible for meeting employee payrolls and serving the public. And what about doctors, teachers, managers etc. – are they all to be disqualified too just because they are not professional politicians?

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          1. “Serving the public” thanks for the laugh. A businessman’s work is to make money, nothing more, nothing less. Politicians aren’t noble either but we don’t have to push this myth of the noble billionaire. Anyone who’s made that much money is a scumbag, because you have to be to have that kind of business success.

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            1. “serving the public – thanks for the laugh”

              The vast majority of businesses that don’t serve the public what they want typically go belly up in rapid fashion. (It’s true that monopolies and near-monopolies, protected by their symbiotic relations with the political class – Google, for example – don’t face the same market pressures.)

              “Anyone who’s made that much money is a scumbag”

              I respectfully suggest that you re-read your Das Kapital – profit is not theft – pro hint, pay particular attention to “expanded reproduction.” Now, I concede that some proportion of billionaires are personal scumbags but I’m on pretty safe ground to hypothesize that there’s an even larger percentage of career politicians who have made scumbaggery into an art form.

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              1. I think Obama is a very good human being. I think he’s a sincere, intelligent person. I also think he’s a great husband and father. I think he doesn’t associate with porn stars and cheat on his wife. He’s polite. He gives beautiful speeches. He never hurts anybody’s feelings and he rarely tweets.

                But so what? What did all of it do for me? He still bombed out a bunch of countries. He was terrible on Ukraine. He was behind the horrible “Dear Colleague” initiative in higher ed. He mismanaged the recession (unlike Canadians who showed how responding to a recession should really be done).

                I’m really over who’s a nice person. For 8 years, we (the supporters) kept saying “yes, but what a great family! Did you see the Father’s Day pictures? So sweet?” I’m over all that.

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              2. It’s hard work producing a product which anyone would be willing to pay money for. Marxists seem to believe that all goods consist of interchangeable widgets. It is certainly much easier to be a socialist because you get to define the level of service which you inflict on your victims.

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        2. And yet he got the economy in under a year where Obama couldn’t get it in 8. Obviously, it’s not because he’s some sort of a genius but because he knows how to pick brilliant people and make himself scarce.

          Plus, he never got us into a single military conflict. Does anybody remember, who was the last president to achieve that?

          The guy has a million faults. Yet he’s clearly much better at this than Obama. Whom I passionately supported twice, by the way.

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          1. “And yet he got the economy in under a year where Obama couldn’t get it in 8. Obviously, it’s not because he’s some sort of a genius but because he knows how to pick brilliant people and make himself scarce.”

            This is not a fair metric to judge a president since context is so different. Obama inherited a broken economy in one of the worst financial crisis. Trump inherited a good economy from Obama. I guess the jury is still out with COVID19 on the real long term economic impact of Trump’s economy will be.

            “The guy has a million faults. Yet he’s clearly much better at this than Obama. Whom I passionately supported twice, by the way.”

            I guess the main point where our views differ is the metrics by which we judge a good president. I firmly believe a good leader and president is one that unites people. And that is an area where I believe Obama at least tried to make a genuine attempt. To me it seems Trump does the exact opposite and uses fear of the “other” to incite anger, resentment, and fears that stir up his base.

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            1. “I firmly believe a good leader and president is one that unites people. And that is an area where I believe Obama at least tried to make a genuine attempt.”

              Yes, by the end of his 8 years in office Americans were heartily sick of his employing the bully pulpit of the Presidency to continuously hector against the evils of identity politics with a particular focus on abuses by his own partisans.

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              1. I saw on Twitter this morning, a woman who is saying, completely seriously, that “in order to earn their diversity cookies” white people shouldn’t hang out with black people who aren’t SJW and BLM. Did Trump make her do that? Her tweets have a lot of likes.

                Somebody argued in the NYTimes last week that people should drop the relatives who aren’t giving money to BLM. Did Trump cause that?

                The calls to break all relations with people who vote differently aren’t coming from Trump. Or Trump’s side. It’s not Sean Hannity (took me 5 minutes to find a single pro-Trump news outlet) who’s been publishing gleeful stories about wives leaving their husbands for not voting the right way?

                So honestly, how is it about Trump?

                Academics are afraid to notice the defacement of a Cervantes statue. Is it Trumpist hordes that scare them?

                People are fired and unpersonned. Is it crowds of MAGA folks chasing them out of jobs?

                Who’s doing all of this? Who is really creating these divisions?

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              2. “Who’s doing all of this? Who is really creating these divisions?”

                I am old enough to remember when it was a mark of a good education to be seen to be above partisan politics because we all knew that politics was a dirty game played by weak narcissists obsessed with gaining power over others.

                Now the mark of a good education seems to be a public commitment to hyper-partisanship, identity politics, and all-around wokeness.

                Progress.

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              3. Two seconds ago I had somebody on Twitter tell me that people who vote differently from him are irredeemably evil and don’t deserve to be treated with humanity. I don’t think Trump made him say it.

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              4. “people who vote differently from him are irredeemably evil and don’t deserve to be treated with humanity”

                Many observers blame the academy for being captured by the “left” and turning out hordes of wannabe Red Guards. But I think it’s much deeper than that. Looking back a couple of decades, I would stress the emergence of highly partisan late night TV comedy in normalizing the view that a) politics was the central feature of everyone’s life, and b) those individuals who held incorrect political opinions were legitimate targets for scornful mocking and social isolation.

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              5. As in immigrant, I’m an interesting case study in this respect. I came fresh to all of this from another continent. And the message that anybody who doesn’t vote D is completely irredeemable, subhuman and horrid is the only message I received from every possible source.

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              6. In Canada it’s a lot more complicated because of provincial / language issues. But as an immigrant, in Quebec you are heavily pushed to identify with the Anglo liberal side. NDP is snooty to immigrants. The French-speakers think you are the cause of their linguistic ills. It makes for a limited field.

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              7. “the only message I received from every possible source…”

                I believe a lot has changed in the last quarter-century. During the Cold War period, there was a high value placed on maintaining a degree of professional distance and neutrality towards partisan politics among most of the intelligentsia charged with the production of the cultural means of reproduction – journalists, academics, artists, clergy etc. After all, we told ourselves, hyper-politicization and glorification of the role of the state was an attribute of our totalitarian enemies – we were different!

                “In Canada it’s a lot more complicated because of provincial / language issues…”

                Yes, the political history is quite different, it really is. But English-speaking Canada is a regional culture within the wider US culture that follows most American cultural trends (they hate that to be said out loud, but it’s true) so its intelligentsia has likewise experienced a post-Cold War rejection of professionalism in favour of SJW wokeness. I can’t speak confidently about recent cultural changes in French-speaking Quebec except to observe that in some sense Quebec politics has been all about identity since 1760.

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  1. Interesting paragraph:

    // Pulling statues down or calling for the removal of “problematic” portraits isn’t motivated by a desire to forget the past, Michel Foucault argued. It is a way of returning to it and reigniting its conflicts. Blake Smith in The Washington Examiner: “What we are in the habit of calling ‘identity politics,’ and particularly political movements based on (somewhat contradictory) appeals to racial solidarity and anti-racism, depend on a ‘certain way of making historical knowledge work within political struggle.’ So argued Foucault in Society Must Be Defended, a 1976 book based on a lecture series about ‘political historicism.’ Many on the American Right hold Foucault, along with his French postmodernist contemporaries, partly responsible for the emergence of identity politics. It would be more accurate to say that Foucault was one of the first, and sharpest, analysts of the way identity-based political movements appeal to history and ignite what he called ‘race war.’ . . . Hiding their crimes with myths, the oppressors have made the oppressed forget who they are and what they have suffered. But the signs of that historical violence are all around us — in statues, place names, and everyday language. Purging the culture of these signs is not so much an ethical demand that the past conform to present values as it is a way of plunging the present back into past conflicts, which the oppressed now stand a chance of winning.”

    From here (the rest of the post talks of other, unconnected things):
    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/prufrock/iconoclasm-and-race-wars/

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    1. I wonder what past conflict Cervantes is supposed to represent.

      I think people are intellectualizing this too much.

      Here’s a much better explanation by a fellow Soviet person:

      “At a protest, a young person surrenders his individuality to the crowd. He is engulfed by the ecstasy of belonging to the mob, and many find the feeling simply too thrilling to return to normal life.

      There are teenagers in this country who had the last three months of school waived, and after being cooped up and deprived of social interaction, are now roaming the streets, at best clenching their fists and chanting something about “racist cops,” and at worst looting and destroying art. After imagining themselves as revolutionaries, are they going to go back to algebra in August?”

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      1. \ Here’s a much better explanation by a fellow Soviet person

        Her post is interesting and well-written, except this bit which really jumped out at me:

        “Growing up Jewish in the Soviet Union, I have been on the receiving end of multiple racist incidents. While I had many feelings about that, I don’t think anger was one of them, at least not at the time. Soul Shoppe, on the other hand, affirmed something the kids already learned from parents and the media: Anger is the natural reaction to racism.”

        I still remember a woman at a Ukrainian market calling my grandmother a slur because of us not buying her sausage. I was a child but think I’ll remember that as long as I am alive, even though it was a small incident, all including. My grandmother surely became angry all right.

        Now, as an Israeli Jew, I wouldn’t become angry in such ‘small’ cases (if I travel abroad and experience it again) since I feel sure in my country and am proud of it. Those people deserve contempt alone, like insects.

        However, when one is a quite powerless minority in FSU with state antisemitism joining one of the masses, saying “I am not angry” is a bit like “spit him in the eyes, he’ll tell it’s dew from the skies” (a Russian proverb).

        I am angry at antisemitism, when I read of ‘activists’ going after Zionist professors, and have a right to be.

        Link here, if somebody is interested:
        https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/22/my-kids-public-school-held-a-workshop-teaching-the-police-are-racists/

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        1. When my sister was 6, she broke her toe. My father was bringing her home from the hospital by bus. She had a cast on her foot.

          The nice Soviet people on the bus saw a clearly Jewish guy with a Jewish kid and thought it would be funny to throw him off the bus. They thought it was even more funny to watch a helpless kid who couldn’t walk stay on the bus terrified and crying.

          It’s been 30 years and I’m still angry about it. So yes, I’m very understanding of anger.

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