Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Paul Krugman: Racism Comes Out of the Closet
The dog whistle days are apparently over.
In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.”
Well, the dog whistle days are over. Republicans are pretty much back to saying “Nigger, nigger, nigger.
As everyone knows, on Sunday Donald Trump attacked four progressive members of Congress, saying that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” As it happens, three of the four were born in the U.S., and the fourth is a duly naturalized citizen. All are, however, women of color.
Sorry, there’s no way to both sides this, or claim that Trump didn’t say what he said. This is racism, plain and simple — nothing abstract about it. And Trump obviously isn’t worried that it will backfire.
This should be a moment of truth for anyone who describes Trump as a “populist” or asserts that his support is based on “economic anxiety.” He’s not a populist, he’s a white supremacist. His support rests not on economic anxiety, but on racism.
Michelle Goldberg: Please, Pelosi, Fight Trump, Not the Squad
The House speaker is demoralizing people the Democratic Party needs.
For the last couple of weeks, the House Democratic leadership has been locked in an escalating battle with four left-wing freshmen congresswomen known as “the squad”: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
It started with a dispute over funding for detention facilities at the border, with the squad voting against any new allocations for locking up migrants. There were ugly fights on Twitter, with Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff comparing Democrats who voted for one funding bill to segregationist Dixiecrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi belittled the squad to my colleague Maureen Dowd, saying that despite “their public whatever and their Twitter world,” they’re only four people without a following in Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez accused Pelosi of bullying women of color. A senior House Democratic aide gave an anonymous quote to The Hill ripping Ocasio-Cortez as a “puppet” of “elitist white liberals” who is “only a woman of color when it’s convenient.” It’s been a mess.
Donald Trump may have momentarily smoothed over these divisions this weekend, uniting Democrats in condemnation of his racist Twitter rant against the squad. But the fissures remain, and Pelosi needs to heal them, because this fight is alienating and demoralizing people whom the Democratic Party needs.
Charles M. Blow: What Trump Is Teaching Our Children
Part of the president’s job is to inspire young Americans to be better citizens. Trump is doing the opposite.
When our children are young, we work doggedly to foster in them a deep and abiding sense of morality, ethics and character.
We try to teach them to always tell the truth, to be kind and generous, to be brave enough to do the right thing even if others aren’t as brave.
We try to teach them empathy and compassion, that caring about the less fortunate betters society and is also self-edifying.
We teach them to be gracious and thankful and not to brag or bully. Also, don’t lie, cheat or steal.
We teach them to have self-respect and to respect others. We teach them that everyone is equally worthy and valuable, no matter who they are, what they look like, how much or little they have or to which God they pray, if they pray at all.
We do all this as our children are coming to know how honor and integrity are constructed, maintained and defended. We want to raise good people and good citizens, people who respect society and follow the rules, though not blindly. We want them to question the world, and if they identify injustice, work to eliminate it.
We as parents are the first teachers, the most important ones, but there are many tangential teachers as well, at family gatherings, at school, at places of worship, on playgrounds, and also in literature, on television and on social media.
The president of the United States is one of those teachers. I don’t think many children follow a president or the politics around that presidency on a routine basis, but the sense of the president sinks in.
Nicholas Kristof: Racist to the Bone
Trump’s hate is evident from his jawbones down to his thumbs and little toes.
After instructing four women of color in the House of Representatives to “go back” where they came from, President Trump now claims, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”
That appears incorrect. I have identified the following racist bones in Trump’s body:
Phalanges and metacarpals: These are bones of the fingers and hands that Trump has used to tweet tirades against black and brown people and to retweet Nazi sympathizers, including, twice, an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party.
Femurs, fibulas, tibias, metatarsals: These foot and leg bones carried Trump into his casinos, where black staff members would be rushed off the floor so he couldn’t see them, according to a former employee, Kip Brown.
Virtually every remaining bone was implicated in Trump’s early refusal to rent apartments in his buildings to blacks, leading the Nixon administration Justice Department (not exactly a pillar of liberalism) to sue him for housing discrimination in the 1970s. A former building superintendent working for Trump explained that any rent application from a black person was coded “C,” for “colored,” apparently so that the office would know to reject it.
“Racist” is an explosive term that should never be lightly flung as an epithet, and it is more likely to end a conversation than clarify it. For a single tweet or action there is a possibility of misunderstanding or ambiguity.
Yet for more than 45 years, since that housing discrimination, Trump has engaged in a consistent pattern of racist behavior and speech. His latest controversial tweets are not an aberration but a culmination. This isn’t a matter of a single tweet; it’s a lifetime with a narrative arc of bigotry.
Robert Kagan: We are all ‘the Squad’ now
President Trump has forced us all to take a position on what kind of America this is going to be — in essence, to define again what American “nationalism” means. Is it a white Christian nationalism (or if you’re Jewish and think you can wriggle yourself inside the Trumpian nationalist tent, you can call it Judeo-Christian), in which immigrants of color or other religions are not really Americans and can be told by the president to “go back” to their ancestral lands? Or is it the universalist nationalism of the Declaration of Independence, based on the liberal Enlightenment principles of equality before the law, the inviolable rights of the individual against the state and the conviction that all citizens — regardless of religion, ethnicity or ancestral roots and the timing of their arrival — are equally American?
This is hardly the first time that Americans have been presented with this question, needless to say, and they have often answered equivocally. The popular willingness to denounce and even persecute the “hyphenated” Americans of German and Irish descent during and after World War I, a frenzy spurred by leaders of both political parties; the imprisonment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, upheld by the Supreme Court; and of course the unending horrific treatment of African Americans — these are more than sad episodes in our history. They are as much a part of who we are as the civil rights movement and other triumphs of individual liberties. White nationalism was never just a fringe phenomenon, and it isn’t today. The South was a bastion of the white-nationalist idea for almost two centuries and with support in the last half of the 20th century from conservative thinkers such as Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley Jr. Today, the American conservative movement proudly nurtures a new nationalism, whose intellectual authors openly call on Americans to reject the universal liberal principles of the Declaration of Independence in favor of a nationhood grounded in religion and culture. It is a growth industry.
This nationalism is antithetical to the American experiment. The Founding Fathers, though white, Christian men, explicitly rejected establishing the new republic on a religious and ethnic foundation. They did not share a Burkean belief that the rights they enshrined in the Declaration derived from their Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage, accreted over the centuries. As Alexander Hamilton put it, the “sacred rights of mankind” were not to be found among “parchments or musty records” but were “written, as with a sunbeam . . . by the hand of the divinity itself.” In the Declaration of Independence, which Abraham Lincoln recognized as the quintessential statement of American nationalism, there is not a word about culture, color or Christianity.