Susan Slotnick: Both sides now

Dragging myself along, weighted down by a fear of nausea, on June 5th I forced myself to listen to Trump’s dissent into madness comeback spiel. It was when he said the words, “my values” that I felt sea sick. What values? Every word we associate with virtue he lacks. Acceptance, compassion, authenticity, courage, dignity, justice, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, honesty, humility, integrity, empathy and loyalty are all absent. Present are: greed, pettiness, malice, impatience, rudeness, cruelty, conceit, scornfulness, vengeance and narcissism. People, (not as many as in 2016,) still cheered him on, bestowing the “narcissistic supply” psychologists have determined is an addiction as consuming as heroin and alcohol. 

Why does almost half the U.S. populace still support a person with such heinous character traits? Why did more black people vote for him in 2020 than in 2016 in spite of the rallying cry on the left about police conduct and racism? 

According to a Michigan voter, a black man, when asked why he voted for Trump in 2020, he said, “Trump will make neighborhoods in poor urban areas safe. He will end drive-by shootings of children.”

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Truthful discussions about why Trump got more of the black votes this time will rarely be heard on CNN or MSNBC. Trump will ring out every molecule of distortion because he got more black votes. He will insult, brag, exaggerate and pat himself on the back, and rant about law and order with callous disregard to the well-being of the working poor who support him.

Trump is the Judge Judy of politics, saying all the brash insulting things we secretly want to say to those who oppose our point of view.

Educated progressives living in predominantly safe suburbs have the prerogative (privilege) to masochistically question their racism ad infinitum, mine their behavior for every possible micro aggression, compete with each other for who is less racist in online workshops and take on a massive amount of guilt for slavery and colonialism. It’s not only individuals who are saturated with remorse filled self-scrutiny, but some of our greatest institutions of higher learning as well. The president of Princeton University said in a letter to students, staff and alumni that “racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the university itself.” 

The Trump administration then responded announcing that it was investigating whether Princeton had violated federal civil rights laws, suggesting that a public expression of contrition for a history of “systemic racism” at the university was an acknowledgment of illegal behavior! How does any of this address the concerns of the gentleman from Michigan?

Somewhere along the path towards understanding the intense cold civil war we are in, I decided to buck up, fight my fears, and try to see from the perspective of the other.

How would I feel if I was accused of being a Nazi, a white supremacist, stupid uneducated, unsophisticated, jingoistic, brain-washed and generally morally inferior to the other side? What if the president I revered told me repeatedly the county I love was being stolen from me by an army of scientists, academicians, most likely atheists and baby-killers? 

Even Trump makes fun of his base and tries to distance himself. “I love the uneducated. I am a genius. I have the best words.” He referred to his impeachment as a “lynching.” He tried to scare suburban housewives into fearing an invasion of “low-income housing,” a euphemism. The record is filled with Trump’s racist statements and actions. I wish he would participate in an “undoing racism” forum! He still wields a lot of power to ferment hostilities.

The cold civil war must be stopped before it gets hot again as it did on January 6 and more lives are lost. In any dispute each side must take some responsibility for their biases. Not easily done. This would require self-reflection, the courage to question deeply held beliefs. I suppose this column, my spiel, is an attempt to do this, see from both sides. Join me.