The word ‘racist’ is loaded and abused. The term ‘dog whistling’ is headed in the same direction. I would prefer to avoid using either. By the term ‘racist’, I understand a person who believes that he or she is superior to people of a different race and who is content to say so. The feeling of superiority is not in my view enough. Many people deep down feel superior, if only because many people feel a difference between them and people of a different race, and very few escape making a judgment in their favour on the result of that difference. The critical part is the readiness of some people to convey their sense of superiority to others including those whom they regard as inferior. ‘Dog whistling’ is the name given to those who are ready to express that sense of superiority without getting caught. The expression of superiority is disguised or ambivalent. Such an activity is therefore the product of both malice and cowardice. The superior people are, as the saying goes, eager to wound but afraid to strike. Keeping any sense of superiority to yourself is by contrast the product of upbringing and manners.
The grosser part of the id of Donald Trump is Stephen Bannon. Manigault Newman asked Bannon if rumours of his being a racist were true.
He said no. He explained, ‘The same way you are a proud African-American woman, I am a proud white man. What’s the difference between my pride and your pride?’
Bannon is proud to be white. (Let us put to one side the silly ad hominem argument that his protagonist has the same belief and emotion – but for a different colour of skin.) What is ‘pride’?
- A high or overweening opinion of one’s own qualities, attainments, or estate; inordinate self-esteem. 2. The exhibition of this quality in attitude, bearing, conduct; arrogance, haughtiness.
Well, Donald trump is obviously full of it. But, if we put the Oxford English Dictionary to one side, things don’t get better in the Bible. Pride goes before the fall and the meek shall inherit the earth. But it is very hard to think of any meaning of the word ‘pride’ that does not entail that Bannon believes that as a white man, he is superior to people who are not white. Given the context in which he makes that statement, it is also clear that he is content to say so, and to say as much to people who are not white. Bannon therefore comes within my criteria for the word ‘racist’.
Bannon may or may not agree. He would certainly deny ‘dog-whistling’. He probably thinks his sophistry is clever. It may be clever enough for Trump and those who attend his rallies, but it lacks all conviction for people who can see. And by projecting his own arrogance or haughtiness on to others, he imagines a world where all people feel superior to people of a different race. The resulting hatred and conflict might give a fair preview of hell.
You may or may not agree with that, but one thing is clear. Mr Bannon believes that he as a white man is different to people who are black – if there were no difference –if black people were relevantly the same as white people – there would be nothing for either side to be proud of. That then leads to at least three questions. What exactly is the relevant difference between a white person and a black person? What is it about that difference that leads Mr Bannon to be happy or proud that he is white and not black? And why does Mr Bannon feel the need to tell people that he is proud of being white?
Say that I have hazel eyes, short hair, and flat stomach, but you have blue eyes, long hair and a pot. So what? What is the point of any difference? Well, then, let’s get to the real point – why does it matter if my racial ancestry is different to yours?
And what is there about that difference that makes you proud to have your ancestry rather than mine – while you are presumably left to wonder if I could give a hoot?
Why, then, do you feel the need to raise any issue flowing from any difference? If a blackfella walked into a pub at Halls Creek, or if a white governor walked into his governor’s mansion in Alabama, and said that he was proud that he was black or white, how peaceful do you think that the reaction might be? If you remain so far unruffled, how would you be if you were Jewish and your best friend announced that he or she was proud to be Aryan?
Finally, what is there for you to be proud of about the fact that you are white when, to quote Beaumarchais, all that you have relevantly done is to have taken the trouble to be born? Saying that you are proud to be white makes as much sense as saying that you are proud that you won Tatt’s. It’s just the luck of the bloody draw, Mate.
Perhaps, then, Mr Bannon has done us a service by being so tart. His is the dark arena of people like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. They like the dagger, but they also like to muffle it with a cloak; and, like Mr Bannon, they are frankly vicious.
Writing on her social media presence earlier this summer, [Lara Trump] noted that her Instagram feed is ‘an achievement in blandness’ highlighting her ‘commitment to her kid, her dogs and her father-in-law without ever betraying a hint of personality’.
‘Woman to woman, I shared a connection with Omarosa as a friend and a campaign sister, and I am absolutely shocked and saddened by her betrayal and violation on a deeply personal level.’
The Guardian, 18 August 2018.
Once you have adapted to the notion that a member of the Trump family might be bland, you might ask how a connection woman to woman – either as a friend or as a campaign sister – might differ from a connection man to man or man to woman.