Sunday, November 20, 2016

Taking Responsibility

The other day I came across the following stinging but very accurate indictment of those who voted for Donald Trump:
Not all Trump supporters are racist, misogynist, xenophobes. All Trump supporters saw a racist, misogynist, xenophobe and said “this is an acceptable person to lead our country.”

You may not have racist, misogynist, xenophobic intent, but you have had racist, misogynist, xenophobic impact.
Impact > intent.

So when you get called racist, misogynist, and xenophobic – understand that your actions have enabled racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in the highest halls of our federal government, regardless of why you voted for him.

You have to own this. You don’t get to escape it because your feelings are hurt that people are calling you names. You may have felt like you had no other choice; you may have felt like he was genuinely the best choice for reasons that had nothing to do with hate.

But you have to own what you have done: you have enabled racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Impact > intent. Always.
—  Phillip Howell

The above seems particularly germane given the spate of appointments the president-elect is making, appointments that confirm the worst fears of a large number of people.
The US president-elect on Friday picked Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Representative Mike Pompeo as director of the CIA and retired lieutenant-general Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

The hawkish trio have made inflammatory statements about race relations, immigration, Islam and the use of torture, and signal a provocative shift of the national security apparatus to the right.
And what is one to make of the fact that the supremacist Steve Bannon has been named Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor?

You are as capable as I am of reading in depth about these appointments, so I won't go on about them here, since my real point is that while many commentators have offered an array of reasons that people supported Trump, such as their feelings of alienation, the fact that they don't feel their voices are being heard by their politicians, etc., etc. ad nauseam, the fact is that none of them can be excused for their choice. It is not as if they did not know the twisted 'values' of Trump, but either because of or despite those 'values', selected him anyway. For that, they must be harshly rebuked, even condemned.

And what about the approximately 50% of Americans who didn't bother to vote, some out of the usual indifference and apathy, some because they couldn't bring themselves to support either candidate? As Thomas Moore said in A Man For All Seasons, "Silence gives consent." By their non-participation in the election, they have significantly contributed to the darkness that is sure to envelop America and, unfortunately, much of the world.

The failure of the American electorate imposes upon the rest of us a special obligation. As I indicated in an earlier post, none of us can sit on the sidelines or turn away when we witness acts of hatred, racism, misogyny or other behaviour that represent the distemper of our times; sadly, in the minds of many, the election of a moral misfit has sanctified such vile acts.

Silence gives consent.

I will leave you with this peerless commentary that, from the progressive side, is the equivalent of shouting, "I'm mad as hell, and I won't take it anymore!


  1. Precisely, Lorne. Choices have consequences.

    1. We do no one any service by making excuses for them, Owen.

  2. It's a foundational principle of common law that we are all deemed to intend the logical and foreseeable consequences of our acts. Should I fire a gun into a crowd of strangers, killing a person I never knew or chose to die, I am still deemed to have intended to kill that person as it was both the logical and foreseeable consequence of firing into random strangers. This applies quite directly to those who voted for Trump aware of his proclivities.

    1. Thanks, Mound.That legal principle aptly illustrates the Trump voters' culpability.