The Apology of Privilege
Words make people and we are what we eat, so when you have an entire subset of the population that has injected the big lie of white supremacy and it’s illegitimate first born of white privilege, you’re seeing people that have become a victim of their own bad diet. And no matter how hard you encourage them to eat healthier (truth, facts and objective reality), their own metabolism will work against them. The demagogue knows exactly what buttons of primordial anger and cynicism to push, because he knows what their diet has been.
So a Donald Trump, and I’m not talking about “The Donald” because he is not unique. There will always be one of him to come along and push those buttons. Any Donald can present this confused mind with lies–He can prove himself to be a liar, and if he pushes those buttons, they will accept anything he says. Look at how long he claimed President Obama was not born in the US and demanded to see his birth certificate. Neither he, nor his followers were concerned about the truth of the President’s birth. The point they were making is that he is not one of us. Even now after the birth certificate has been produced, 53% of Republicans still believe the lie, even in the face of proof and objective reality. As Trump himself said “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
A Washington Post report on a 2007 deposition in connection with a lawsuit against Trump, pointed out 30 lies that he had told in the deposition. “At times, he defended the lies, insisting that they were somehow true, even if the numbers didn’t reflect it.” Similarly, in this presidential campaign, in the face of the most callous and bigoted statements, he has shifted the blame to his staff, the corrupt media, and even the victims themselves.
Now comes, what they describe as the ‘pivot.’ That is his supposed new posture away from those Republican primary “Trumpettes” who are willing to accept him no matter what and toward those more rational, more independent voters that are key in a general election. In order to accept him though, they will have to hold their noses, and rationalize his behavior. They will have to convince themselves that he really didn’t mean all those things he said. They will have to explain away all the lies.
They’re already pointing to his “apology” –I do regret it… where it may have caused personal pain–” as a move in that direction. But as James Hohmann, notes yesterday in the Washington Post, Trump’s ‘apology’ sounds like a non-apology. “Linguists and relationship experts, meanwhile, said Trump’s comments were ineffective and that his words cannot accurately be described as an “apology.” In fact, the GOP nominee did not specify exactly who or what he was talking about.” Its like the recent non-apology of Olympic champion swimmer, Ryan Lochte who “apologized” for “his role in taking the focus away from other Olympic athletes” and for “not being more careful and candid.” He didn’t say he was sorry for falsely accusing Brazilians for a violent or for fabricating a lie when he himself was the criminal. They both make what I call the “apology of privilege.” I point to this same insincerity and unwillingness to acknowledge one’s wrong in my book, “Yes, I Am Your Brother:”
“For me to feel that you are sincere about wanting me to forgive the wrong you’ve done to me; I have to ask you if you acknowledge what you did. It’s like the halfhearted apology we give sometimes. “If I have wronged you, I sorry.” I’m telling you you’ve wronged me. If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But instead of you saying, “I’m sorry for the particular wrong I did to you,” you preface it with “If I did…” You hedged your apology like the No Contest plea in court where you accept the punishment without acknowledging any guilt.”
Why would anyone believe you once you’ve shown the willingness to say anything to get support and the unwillingness to acknowledge ever having wronged anyone? We know when he says Make America Great Again, he means Make America White Again. Statistically and demographically that’s not going to happen, so he can only be saying, seize power now before you come under the influence of these minorities–these ‘other’ ones; these different ones.
We know when he says he’ll bring Law and Order to communities, he means he’ll support and protect the rogue policemen who have preyed on our communities and he will demonize and sic his followers on anyone that disagrees with him. This is what we’ve seen and why would we believe any lies to the contrary as part of a pivot?
We know he supports decades of Republican voter suppression in a democracy which is supposed to encourage voter participation–all of this under the guise of preventing voting fraud. In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the ID laws, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite one case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud. All research and government investigations and courts have proved voter fraud is mostly a myth. Yet Trump calls for “election observers” on his official website to stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.”
It won’t work with African Americans. We remember when white Southerners dreamed up barriers designed to keep blacks from voting. Some required frequent re-registration, or registration at inconvenient times (e.g., planting season). They implemented literacy tests that were impossible to pass or administered arbitrarily. (Guess how many marbles are in a jar). In 2014 a group of Harvard students took the Louisiana Literacy Test that was administered as late as 1964, and required a 100% score in order to vote. All of them failed the test. They established poll taxes that African Americans could not pay. In the rural counties where most African Americans lived, you had to go to the courthouse to register and voting registration office might be open for a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon maybe one day a week. You had to take off work — with or without your employer’s permission — and if a white employer gave such permission, or failed to fire a Black who tried to vote, he might be driven out of business by economic retaliation from the Citizens Council. Sometimes on that registration day, African Americans has to walk pass the county Sheriff and his deputies and intimidation, insults, threats, and sometimes arrest on phony charges, just to get to the Registration Office. Once in the Office they faced hatred, harassment, and humiliation from the county officials. In some states the information entered on your registration was passed on to the Citizens Council and Ku Klux Klan. Is this the “election observers” Trump is calling for? Is this the greatness he is calling America back to again?
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., just ruled that the regime of voter ID laws passed in North Carolina clearly demonstrated that the “disenfranchisement of blacks was the very goal of the legislation.”
The war of this era is that of truth against lies, and the battle in this day, until November, is to punish the liars and vindicate the truth. They need to be shown that this is a new day—that we remember their history and we don’t harbor in rancor in our hearts but we are going to take that one day in November to show them that they must acknowledge what they have done and stop doing it.