Monday, November 14, 2016

Election 2016 Fallout Part 1: On Bullying

Part 1 in a series of 9.

(1) On bullying.

I've seen a lot of white Trump voters on social media who are shocked, angered, and saddened that "intolerant liberals" are "bullying" them by calling them, or suggesting they are, bigots.

But, it's not limited to the right. Over the course of the election season, we saw various levels of even liberal hand-wringing about how Clinton supporters need to have more "empathy" for Trump supporters, largely coded as the (white, male, aggrieved) working class. The white working class, we are told, has "economic anxiety" and we mustn't judge them with our "elite liberal" sensibilities by calling them bigots.

Well, I'll talk more about that economic anxiety claim later this week. But, on the empathy/bullying front, I still contend, as I've contended for years, that the empathy must work both ways. For, we also have to remember that Trump is a bully-in-chief who ran a campaign premised upon name-calling, taunting, and aggression, which he has neither atoned nor apologized for. Indeed, he's already back on Twitter sounding off his grievances about the anti-Trump protests and media. People are so mean to him. So unfair.

So, while it is nice, I guess, that Trump supporters are taking a stand against bullying now that they feel they are being bullied, where were they for the past 18 months when their top guy was impulsively pecking out insults on his Twitter? Oh, right. They were celebrating his "tell it like it is" persona because they purportedly believe telling the "truth" is more important than coddling people's feelings.


What a concept. Imagine if more people understood that a critical distinction exists between saying what one thinks the truth is versus what the truth actually is. Trump, for instance, might be "honest" in the sense that he says whatever is on his mind at the moment; but what's on his mind is not necessarily truth in any objective sense of the word.

Which leads to the hypocrisy of it all, via garbage fire Joe Walsh:

The "joke" within the first post is that liberals have overly-delicate feelings and can't handle the truth.

The argument within the second post is the threat: you damn well better not call us names, or we'll never vote for you again! That this also might be construed as a request to coddle the delicate feelings of bigots, who literally argue for safe spaces within the public discourse, does not seem to cross the bigot mind.

All of this is to say I'm suspicious of any demands to re-center the feelings of white people who have unexamined, defensive bigotry, whether these demands come from the left, right, center, media, or purportedly neutral parties. The Tolerance Trap of "you must tolerate my intolerance of you" is a real, fucked-up thing.  But, listen, we actually don't have to be tolerant of all things all the time, particularly of opinions and people that degrade our dignity, just because people call us "intolerant" or mock our safe spaces or think we're mean when we express fear, hurt, or anger at injustice against us.

Drawing boundaries is, actually, a key point to being a feminist progressive.

I humbly offer this post as a resource, particularly for those who navigate conversations in which people request that you not call out bigotry when you see it.  You might have noticed the Gaslight Extravaganza that's going on everywhere lately.

Name what is happening, if only to yourself, and know when you need to walk away for your own well-being. Note the hypocrisy. Note the double-standard. If Trump supporters and their liberal enablers are imploring to you that bigotry wasn't a factor in Trump's election, know that this claim can only be made with a straight face in communities with toxic, fucked-up power dynamics.

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