Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Diatribe on Trump

So for all my blog readers this is a diatribe I wrote for a rhetoric class I am in at UC Berkeley as a response to an hour long discussion we had in class.  I refer often to things that happened in class but I think it is clear enough that you don't need to have been in my class to understand the point.  Trump is a fucking asshole.

In class on Tuesday we spoke about some very contentious issues surrounding Donald Trump and the upcoming presidential election.  While our school has its liberal reputation for very good reason, I have no doubt that there are at least a few in our class and many on campus who support Trump.  For this reason, I am writing this, in order to address some of the comments made in class, as well as the issues I hoped to raise but was unable to because so many people wanted to speak.  Since this is a class in rhetoric we focus on words.  I have been reminded many times by our professor that words matter.  This is true, words do indeed matter, but only in the context of the facts that surround them.

Trigger Warning: I will be reprinting here Trumps comments regarding women in the video released over the weekend so that those who haven’t seen what he said can know.

I will also be using foul language because curse words are able to convey a certain intensity and emotion that is valuable when using a written medium rather than verbal communication. 

Early in our class on Tuesday I referred to Donald Trump as a steaming pile of human waste.  I want to begin by apologizing for this characterization as it is abjectly wrong.  The much more correct characterization that I should have used to refer to Donald as is a flaming bag of dog shit; however, I was concerned about using such language in class.  Trump is a bigot, a racist, a xenophobe, and an all-around asshole.  I fully contend that being a Trump supporter in itself is an exercise in self-delusion and truth avoidance.  Trump supporters in the media have irreparably damaged American discourse with their partisan bullshit.  They are able to deflect and deny all of Trump’s wrongs in order to maintain the false reality they desperately want to believe.  The truth, however, is undeniable and no mere words can ever change it. 

All People Deserve Respect, Freedom And Equality Regardless Of Race, Gender, Creed, Orientation, Or Any Other Categorization.

I have but one simple caveat for that statement.  A person no longer deserves respect when they have proven themselves to be unworthy of it.  Trump, more than almost any public figure today has definitely proven himself to be unworthy of respect.  The United States has reached a point in our history where all of the progress we have made through science, logic, reason, and cooperation threaten to be turned around.  I would never suggest that Trump has accomplished this himself, rather that he has given a public voice to the worst dregs of our society; people who had remained relatively silent on the national level for a long time because most people had ignored them.  We can ignore this threat no longer.

The first issue I want to address from class is a comment made that Secretary Clinton could possibly be in prison because of the issue with her Emails.  Those of us who have been motivated enough to do the research know that this claim is almost certainly abjectly false.  It is propaganda widely circulated through the right wing and has been baselessly used to demean her.  I do not expect anyone to take my word for it, but instead you can listen to a Harvard educated Lawyer, Andrew Torrez, explain clearly and efficiently why this is so on a podcast called Opening Arguments by following this link.  You can also read his accompanying blog article on the same topic here.  And of course, there are the words of FBI director James Comey

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. … In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”

Secretary Clinton does not deny that using a separate email server was a stupid decision, she accepts full responsibility and has said so multiple times, but under the claims of Donald Trump that she should be in prison are perverse exploitation of what is in reality a dumb mistake.

But Trump’s absolutely fucking idiotic call to lock her up is completely emblematic of his campaign.  As we all saw in the debate earlier this week he was unable to answer most questions and merely resorted to attacking Secretary Clinton.  When asked what he would do about Syria Trump instead turned to attacking Secretary Clinton.  He actually had to be asked the question a second time by moderator Martha Raddatz after he used his initial 2 minutes on attacks.  This is a man whose campaign is so disturbingly distanced from reality that his vice presidential candidate is an evolution denier.  I have a shrimp in my fish tank that is more intelligent than Donald Trump, but none of this comes even close to Trumps treatment of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community.

While Trump continually tries to claim that he truly cares about African Americans his past is riddled with disturbing truths that show otherwise.  In 1973 Trump and his father were sued for discrimination in housing practices.  The lawsuit claimed that Trump Management Inc. (of which Donald Trump was then the president) either refused to rent to African Americans in some cases, or in others offered only apartments in buildings that were primarily inhabited by other African Americans.  While the lawsuit was eventually settled without an admission of guilt it is but one event in a long chain of discriminatory actions and statements that plague the entire Trump family. 

Not long ago, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of a bowl of skittles with the caption “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?”  This disgustingly simple minded evaluation of the Syrian refugee issue is absolutely disgraceful.  Before responding to it myself I want to give you the words of Comedian and magician Eli Bosnick who created a minor internet sensation with his response.  He tweeted the image of the same bowl of skittles with the following caption.

“If I gave you a bowl of skittles and three of them were poison would you still eat them?”
“Are the other skittles human lives?”
“Like. Is there a good chance. A really good chance. I would be saving someone from a war zone and probably their life if I ate a skittle?”
“Well sure. But the point-”
“I would eat the skittles.”
“Ok-well the point is-”
“I would GORGE myself on skittles. I would eat every single fucking skittle I could find. I would STUFF myself with skittles. And when I found the poison skittle and died I would make sure to leave behind a legacy of children and of friends who also ate skittle after skittle until there were no skittles to be eaten. And each person who found the poison skittle we would weep for. We would weep for their loss, for their sacrifice, and for the fact that they did not let themselves succumb to fear but made the world a better place by eating skittles.
Because your REAL question…the one you hid behind a shitty little inaccurate, insensitive, dehumanizing racist little candy metaphor is,
… and what kind of monster would think the answer to that question… is yes?”

The truth is powerful.  The truth is that we live in one of the most prosperous and well off nations in the world, but many of us suffer from the delusion that we have no responsibility to the rest of the world.  That these imaginary boundaries that we drew and we named countries have any more meaning than we give them and that for some reason being born in one as opposed to another makes our lives more valuable.  Trump initially called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and as I have made very clear in class I am an atheist.  I have no love for Islam, or Christianity, or Judaism, or any other religion across the planet, but I do not hate the person who believes something because it is what they were taught.  One’s religious beliefs are usually just a result of what you were taught by your family and the people around you, and they are no reason to hate the person.  The truth is indeed that the vast majority of all religious people are peaceful.  The vast majority of all non-religious people are peaceful, but Trump wants to prevent thousands of people from escaping the absolute horrors of war simply because his xenophobic little mind can’t comprehend that he is no better than they.  Look up pictures of the city of Damascus before and after the civil war.  The difference is heart wrenching.  Any person who can look upon them and feel no ounce of sympathy, no desire to help in any way possible is a cruel heartless bastard who does not deserve to be our president.

On LGBTQ rights Trump’s position is as hypocritical as humanly possible.  Trump openly says that he is a better choice for the LBGT community while also openly opposing marriage equality.  His reason? Of course it is blame Secretary Clinton.  Since the Clinton foundation once received donations from Saudi Arabia he is suddenly better for some reason.  Of course that’s if you don’t consider the millions Trump has made in business with the Saudis.  Or the fact that donations to the Clinton foundation are irrelevant to Secretary Clinton’s support of human rights.  I say let’s take all of the money we can get from the Saudis and funnel it directly to humanitarian projects WHICH IS WHAT THE CLINTON FOUNDATION FUCKING DOES.  I’m sure Trump also thinks that his support of the North Carolina is also a pro-LGBT move (sarcasm).  Of course it’s no surprise that Southern Poverty Law Center listed hate groups like the Family Research Council, the Ku Klux jackasses and David Duke support the upstanding hatemonger that is Donald.

Of course no conversation on Donald Trump can ignore his views on women… As property.  Since women are half of the population it surprised me greatly that someone would suggest there were things more important than this.  We live in a country where women are still treated as inferior to men, a country where nearly 20% of women report having been raped or experiencing sexual assault.  In short we live in a country where rape culture is alive and well.  Here at UC Berkeley in the past few months we have had several instances of rape and sexual assault reported and undoubtedly there have been more that, sadly, the victims have not been able to report.  It is an uncomfortable thing to think about, but beyond that it must be discussed and it must be confronted.  We must also recognize that the culture of masculinity is the problem. 

At this point I am going to discuss the recent video of Donald Trump talking about women with Billy Bush.  In the video, the asshole says

“I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try and fuck her, she was married”

Followed later by

“I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn't get there and she was married. Then all-of-a-sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything. She's totally changed her look.”


“I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful... I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

And the worst

“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

That anyone would try to apologize for or distract from the disgusting nature of Trump’s comments is insulting to the women of our country.  This is not locker room talk.  I have, in my life, played just about every sport there is to play, from soccer to ice hockey, and I have never heard anything that disgusting.  This is not how men speak when we are alone.  It is the way a desperate sad narcissist talks about people he views as mere objects for his pleasure.  Do we want someone leading our country who doesn’t respect half of the population?  Someone who even the Westboro Baptist Nutjobs see as “too fringe”.  Do we want a president that says he wants to take away a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body?  Do I even need to remind everyone that Trump currently stands accused of sexually abusing a 13 year old girl at parties hosted by a convicted sex offender?  Do I have to point out that Anderson Cooper had to ask that disgusting excuse for a pile of rotten flesh three times whether he had ever done the things he said in the video before Trump finally said no.  I desperately hope not.

I could write for hours, I know, and not do any good.  The Trump supporters would point out that Trump has not been convicted of rape (yet), that he settled his housing discrimination lawsuit and never admitted guilt.  They would deflect and bring up the emails, and the Saudi donations and all the bullshit claims Trump has made.  I know this because at one point in my life, that I am not proud of, I was one of those idiots.  I was raised in a republican household and I went through a phase where I was a radical conservative.  I thought it was cool, and that I was so much smarter than those stupid liberals.  I called democrats communists and made a general ass of myself.  I opposed what I now see as the basic human freedom of the right to love and marry anyone you wish.  I suppressed my own sexuality, unwilling to admit that I was bisexual because of the oppressive religious ideas I was raised with.  I am disgusted with who I once was, but I understand the mindset.  Trump supporters live in an echo chamber where the only information they see is that which re-confirms their pre-determined conclusions.  If they encounter contradictory information they label it lies by the liberal media.  My parents still live like that and it pains me deeply.

But at the same time I can’t blame Trump supporters for believing a lie.  I can’t do that because it truly isn’t their fault.  We are all just products of our surroundings, and most likely they were raised in households where they were taught to think that way.  It is an incredibly difficult thing to escape, and it only happened for me when I became an atheist.  I can, however, blame Donald Trump for promoting the toxic ideas he does.  He has millions upon millions of dollars, enough to have access to any information in the world.  He is surrounded by advisors who cannot ignore the truth and effectively do their jobs, and he was given by his father one of the best educations that money can buy at Wharton.  There is no excuse except malicious intent to obviously know the truth but ignore it.
So with all of this the only thing that really matters is how do we fix it?  I think the answer is an incredibly hard one.  I think it takes all of us confronting the issues we face as a society.  It takes white, middle class, educated, men like myself confronting our privilege and realizing that we, more than everyone else, have a duty to work to fix what our ancestors have caused.  This doesn’t mean we have to walk around apologizing for the way we were born, but it means actively working to support those who were not born with the advantages that we were.  It means educating others who want to maintain the status quo, because education is truly the only way to break them from the ideas they were raised with.  It means being an ally to the LGBTQ community.  But most importantly it means trying to understanding one another.  People are the same all over.  We all want to live happy healthy lives in the presence of those that we love.  We should all live in a society that doesn’t make anyone feel that they are an outsider.  I know that this seems like a pie in the sky fantasy world that we will never get to, but it truly is closer than we suspect.  We came to Berkeley because we believe in change.  We want to better ourselves so that we can better the world, and in a few short years most of us will be out there actually trying to do so.  I hope that we can all stand by each other one sunny day in a world where there is no more hatred, oppression, and division. 

If you managed to make it all the way to the end, thank you.  I completely realize the irony that this rant is almost as long as the midterm I turned in last week, but I find it quite cathartic to put my thoughts down in writing.  I know much of my anger came through as well as some of my sappy optimism and other emotions but I truly do believe every word.  If you take offense at anything I wrote or think I am wrong feel free to tell me.  There are few things I relish more than a good debate.