Identity politics didn’t start with Trump

This morning I came across this on Twitter:

I suspect, like many, he thinks Trump brought about the situation in America rather than the other way around. Let’s see:

I am white. I am Jewish. I am an immigrant. I am a Russian American. But until recently I haven’t focused so much on those parts of my identity. I’ve always thought of myself simply as a normal, unhyphenated American.

Okay, with you so far.

Last year I experienced the first sustained anti-Semitism I have ever encountered in the United States. Like many other anti-Trump commentators, I was deluged with neo-Nazi propaganda on social media, including a picture of me in a gas chamber, with Herr Trump in a Nazi uniform pulling the lever to kill me. This was accompanied by predictable demands that I leave this country to “real” Americans and go back to where I came from — or, alternatively, to Israel.

So something’s changed, I think we can all agree on that.

That’s harder to do now that the president of the United States has embraced the far-right agenda. Trump came to office vilifying Mexicans and Muslims. As president, he has praised the protesters who marched with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and come out against taking down Confederate monuments, symbols of white supremacy.

Well, how about that? I don’t suppose it’s occurred to Boot that his being subject to anti-semitic abuse for the first time and ordinary Americans concerned about immigration being branded as “far right” are two sides of the same coin. Sure, Boot wasn’t being told to “leave this country” a few years ago, but then Confederate monuments weren’t symbols of white supremacy then either, and it was a lot more difficult to be branded a Nazi.

He has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who became a symbol of racism and lawlessness for locking up Latinos, in defiance of a court order, simply on the suspicion that they might be undocumented immigrants.

A symbol of racism for whom? Those who want to apply a racial angle to anything and everything. Yet when people get into the spirit of things and start bringing up Boot’s race, he doesn’t like it. Well, that’s what happens when you make everything about race, like Boot is doing, and that didn’t start with Trump.

The announced end of DACA hit me particularly hard, because almost half of those affected arrived in the United States before their sixth birthday. In other words, they were about the same age I was when I came here.

My family’s case was somewhat different in that we received legal status as refugees after arriving here, and in time we became citizens.

Similarly, the execution of the Bali Nine leaders hit me particularly hard, because I too had been to Bali. My case was somewhat different because I was not smuggling heroin, and I was allowed to enjoy my holiday in peace.

Not even Trump and his nativist attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have yet figured out a way to strip naturalized American citizens of their legal status — although they’ve explicitly stated that they want to reduce legal immigration by 50 percent.

So this makes them Nazis, does it? Boot complains that times have changed and everything is so unpleasant, but he wants to make it politically unacceptable to discuss issues such as immigration – topics which were very much debated freely during this supposed golden age in which he grew up in America.

What would I do now, at age 48, if I were deported to a country that I have not seen in more than 40 years and whose language I no longer speak?

You might as well ask what you’d do if plonked in the seat of a 747 mid-flight: this is never going to happen, and you know it.

How would I work? How would I survive? In my case it would be a particularly pressing problem, given how critical I have been of Russia’s current president. The risk of political persecution would be all too real for me — as it is for “dreamers” who might be deported to repressive countries.

Hint for those who emigrate: don’t criticise the authoritarian president of your country of origin if you are in your host country illegally. But hey, feel free to slag off the president of your host country in the national press, they’ll love that.

The result of all this hate-mongering is that for the first time, I no longer feel like a “real” American. I now feel like an outcast, a minority.

No, you don’t, this is pathetic posturing. If you had outcast, minority views you’d not get to express them in the Washington Post, you’d be running an obscure blog with 500 readers per day. Like, erm, this one.

That may be precisely what Trump and his most fervent supporters intend. They are redefining what it means to be an American. The old idea that anyone who embraces America’s ideals can become an American is out.

Funny, that’s exactly what a lot of Americans think your side has done: redefined what it means to be American, uprooted conventions, opened old wounds, trashed institutions, and left millions of people feeling isolated and unrepresented. That’s why they voted for Trump.

I find myself increasingly forced to think of my ethnic identity instead of the national identity I adopted as a boy in 1976. That is discomfiting for me, and a tragedy for America.

Well, yes. But it wasn’t Trump who foisted identity politics and race onto people who for years had been content to just be Americans. That was someone else, and the establishment Republicans who Boot supports went along with it. Boot complains that Trump’s policies have made him feel like an outcast in his adopted country, but fails to understand it was ordinary Americans being made to feel like outcasts in their own country which got Trump elected in the first place. Like so many others, he’s put the cart before the horse.


24 thoughts on “Identity politics didn’t start with Trump

  1. My wife, who is an intelligent woman and my stepdaughter, who has a good level of intelligence too, both think that Trump is both evil and a lunatic. But then, they only access left-wing media so all their news is from opinionated marxists and echoed by ‘friends’ who believe the same guff.

    I usually try to point out that he isn’t what they are used to: most pols just trot out lame platitudes and do nothing. Trump — coming from a business (that is, working) background may not be doing as much as many who voted for him might wish, but he doesn’t mess about with a traditionally ineffective politician’s view.

    I cannot win the argument with the distaff side of my house (and I have at least one relative who is still an avid Obama supporter despite his blunders and fumbles, so I wouldn’t get any traction there, either). I do not know if Trump will turn out to be a good president or not, but he will give it a good go and if he fails to change America it wasn’t for the want of trying.

    If he cannot go some way to arresting the libtard slide towards whites becoming a minority along in the States with traditional values being rejected by many of those who nurse a weird cocktail of marxism, islam and the denial of history, then it is game over for the west.

    But I admit I was a US citizen I’d have voted for Trump. As I am not, I didn’t (though I believe tens of thousands crossing into California from the south got to vote for Shrillary. If I pretended I was Mexican could I have slipped in a vote for Trump?)

  2. I do agree with this claim of his though.

    “They are redefining what it means to be an American.”

    Yes, you must now be tolerant of out of control immigration from different cultures or you are a xenophobe.

    Yes, you must now be tolerant of gay marriage and gay men and ladies adopting children or you are homophobic.

    Yes, you must now be tolerant of people including young children butchering their genitals, dressing like the opposite sex and sharing public bathrooms with any sex including young children or you are transphobic.

    Yes, you should now be tolerant of workplace opportunity and promotion based on race and not merit or you are a Nazi.

  3. Oi, Newman. Your closing para is spot on. Except that you should have used a “whom”.

    True, true. Thanks!

  4. Wonderful post, I enjoyed.
    Congratulations on having Woody Allen reading your blog –
    “My wife, who is an intelligent woman and my stepdaughter, who has a good level of intelligence too, both think that Trump is both evil and a lunatic”

  5. @John Square: She is brighter than me (though in fairness most people are). Also, you need to see a doctor with that Splutter of yours.

    @Anon: Good trolling, or being lucky enough to have parents who gave you a great name. I hope Woody Allen isn’t involved as my wife despises the man and will not watch any of his films. Your mileage may vary.

  6. I don’t wish the anti-Semitism garbage on him, but he does need to confront some realities he apparently has never thought about before.

    1) He fled an unaccountable elite that oppressed him and joined another elite that actually has (some) accountability. The proletariat don’t like the establishment wherever they are. He could leave last time. The proles here, can’t.
    2) Perhaps if he talked to people besides those in think tanks and conferences, he would not be so shocked that people think other thoughts. I get a morbid satisfaction at seeing establishment-types looking aghast when they get exposed to the outside world.

    As ugly as anti-Semitism is, it is only a symptom of the bigger disease of elitism that many people are fighting against. Unfortunately, most only focus on the symptoms which can be conveniently blamed on others.

  7. Mr. Trump did not propose any new immigration laws. All of his promises amount to a promise to enforce the existing ones (which most Americans, we must presume, support, or else they’d have changed them). This, apparently, makes him a fascist. Back in the day, it took a bit more than that to qualify.

  8. He could leave last time. The proles here, can’t.

    Ah yes, the plight of the proletariat struggling under the Soviet heel and plight of the proletariat struggling under smug Beltway elites, equates to the same thing exactly. Prior to 1989, people who said things like that were properly labelled as commies…

  9. Your posts aew getting longr and longer Tim.
    Booby has been a US ciizen for how many decades? He swore allegiance to the flag.
    The US does not deport its citizens. In fact it’s almost impossible to get a US citizen extradited no matter the evidence.

  10. “I feel like an outcast, a minority.” This means being ostracized or oppressed by a majority. There’s no indication the majority of Americans support ending DACA. Those who voted for Trump make up less than half of about 60% of the eligible voters. From the polls, it doesn’t look like the number of radical anti-immigrationists is anywhere close to 50%. More like 25-30% at most. There’s no doubt the pro-amnesty movement can get at least as much support. Boot’s side is not numerically overwhelmed – it might be if the undecided and uninterested flock to the opposite side, but for now the numbers don’t look bad for immigration enthusiasts, and the media are on their side. Boot’s desperation is un-American.

  11. From the polls, it doesn’t look like the number of radical anti-immigrationists is anywhere close to 50%.

    I doubt he can even claim to be in a local minority, say if he lived in a small redneck town somewhere. I’m pretty sure he lives in either New York city or Washington DC, hardly hotbeds of anti-immigrant pro-Trump voters.

  12. It all depends upon how you define “radical anti-immigrationist”. They probably consider me a radical anti-immigrationist and I’m a (naturalized) immigrant.

    But I believe that the melting pot (AKA fit in or fuck off) was superior to multi-culti, so I’m literally Hitler. Of course, when everybody is literally Hitler, nobody is literally Hitler.

  13. @William,

    That is a bit of a private question to ask and I kind of like to keep folk guessing and not know where I am coming from on that score.

    I will say though that as a young man in Greenwich Village in the eighties, doing the nightclub scene, going to Fire Island, being a regular at Danceteria meeting with Haoui Montaug and the likes, the gay lifestyle and many other aspects of NYC when it was rotten to the core that I seen for the first time was a complete eye opener for me and I got to say that I didn’t meet any proper cunts either. Even the smelly Quentin Crisp had an air of respectability as he went to the bottle shop. I also dont think that any of those queer folk back then would have expected to ever get married, why would they, they knew that they were different they enjoyed that and they also had no intentions on reproducing.

  14. That is a bit of a private question to ask and I kind of like to keep folk guessing and not know where I am coming from on that score.

    No Bardon, he asked how you’re voting.

  15. Okay so its time for me to come out as I have always known that I would vote No and if there are any other Australians that visit this blog that are undecided on their intentions, the one and only thing I request that you do is read this very short article prior to forming your position.

    What’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage?

    Four years ago, amid much uncertainty, 400 British members of parliament voted to redefine marriage in the United Kingdom. Then prime minister David Cameron announced that, despite having made no mention of the issue in his party’s pre-election manifesto, it would be MP’s who decided the fate of marriage.

    Now, it’s Australia’s turn to choose. There’s one key difference. Unlike in Britain, it will be the people who decide. Everyone agrees, whether they admit it or not. This is a decision of enormous significance. Therefore, it seems sensible to analyse the consequences of the potential change, within nations in which redefinition has previously been carried out.

    In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes, have proved that they are entirely intertwined.

Comments are closed.