Jon Stewart , Try Again
This presidential election has shed light on the ugliest parts of our country. We have seen threats of and actual acts of violence from Trump supporters, and we have seen angry and sometimes violent pushback from the left. All the while there has been this internal debate festering — Is there a such thing as a “good” Trump supporter? Some (mostly white and mostly male) people will think “duh! Of course there are good trump voters!” but for some of us, that’s not the obvious answer
Jon Stewart is the most glaring example of specifically white men who think “duh!” He says,
“Do you know our history? And we also have to caution ourselves to the complexity of that history. I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points, but there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
So let’s dissect the issues within his statement:
1. “Do you know our history? And we also have to caution ourselves to the complexity of that history”
Jon Stewart sounded as if he was about to go down the right path with this statement, but much to my disdain, he instead undermined everything he had been saying for the previous 5 minutes. He claims to know the complexity of our history, but then goes on to make the most simple, shallow, ill conceived statements comparing Trump supporters to races, ethnicities, and religions not at all taking into consideration the complicated, bloody and painful histories of the latter.
2. “there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums”
Your ability to overlook the fact that these people just elected the candidate who has put the physical well-being of marginalized people at risk speaks to your own white-male privilege as much as their abilities to overlook his racism and cast a vote for him for whatever reason speaks to their own individual privileges.
Also, referring to Black people as “blacks” is offensive. “Blacks” cannot be used the same way as “Muslims” or “Mexicans” because Muslim and Mexican are terms reserved for human beings. “Blacks” offers no context of humanity or human status. Anything can be a “black” ie: black paper, black holes, black board. If you replace black with Muslim or Mexican in the previous examples, they don’t make sense because those two words have definitive humanity. Saying “a Muslim” or “Muslims” does not lack humanity while saying “a black” or “blacks” does. Cut it out.
3. “In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist.”
These faulty comparisons and this inability to understand nuance when it comes to matters of race or marginalization is widespread, and yet it still absolutely baffles me. It seems that no matter how left and how educated some white men get, their white-maleness blinds them to nuance and context. Comparing someone’s culture and faith to people who willingly went out and casted their vote in favor of bigotry, regardless of their reason lacks nuance at best and is highly offensive at worst. The attempt to equate Trump voters whose feelings are hurt to the abuse of marginalized groups is obtuse.
4. “That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
The only thing that appears to be real is Jon Stewart’s inability to consider context and nuance in his “analysis.”
So no, Jon Stewart, some of us do not have the privilege of “looking beyond” bigotry in order to see that some of the Trump voters voted for him for reasons other than that. For the sake of our own physical safety, we cannot do that. When the immediate well-being of a large part of the country is comprised by the election of this man, it is difficult for those affected to “look beyond” and see whatever redeeming qualities you have the privilege of seeing in the Trump voters. While their reasons for voting for him may not have anything to do with his bigoted rhetoric, you can’t be neutral on a moving train. Choosing to prioritize the feelings of Trump voters over the physical and mental well-being of groups who have been harmed by Trump’s rhetoric is disgustingly insensitive and bogus.
- This is not to say that all Trump voters are white men. This is simply my gripe with white men making the assertion that not all Trump voters are “bad” when they are not in the position to make that assertion. They are not the people put in immediate physical danger by a Trump election, so it’s easy for them to say no, they’re not all bad.*