Opinion: What a Nobel laureate's take on Donald Trump reveals about today - CNN
Category: News & PoliticsVia: jbb • one month ago • 1 comments
(CNN)Shortly after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison wrote in The New Yorker: "Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of 'Americanness' is color." Reflecting on efforts -- largely by White men -- to define themselves by sustaining that poisonous definition, Morrison argues that those "who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status."
In Morrison's formulation, fear-driven devotion to racial status is more powerful to many White Americans than even self-interest, shame or any belief in humanity. And it is this reality, that White Americans' anxieties in the face of a changing country have been and continue to be weaponized with disastrous and violent results, that has been instrumental in fueling the spread of so-called "replacement theory," the false and bigoted claim that elites are conspiring to replace Whites with minorities. Morrison passed away in 2019, but her words echoed with a prescient rattle this week. They hovered, hauntingly, over a Tops grocery store in a majority-Black East Buffalo neighborhood, where a young White man livestreamed the racist mass killing of 10 people. The alleged shooter also posted a hateful rant self-identifying as a White supremacist and expressing a belief in replacement theory. "Racism, anti-Semitism and a resentment of immigrants are nothing new," emphasized Frida Ghitis. "What is new is that in America, a land of diversity and immigrants, what used to be a fringe theory has found sympathetic voices in one of the two main political parties." Ghitis diagnosed deep irony that the "growing threat to democracy in the United States is occurring at a moment when US foreign policy has accomplished an extraordinary, historic feat; one that among other things serves to fortify democracy around the world." That feat? Shoring up NATO, which is attracting new members, and leading America's allies with a cohort that may soon include Sweden and Finland. "It's a high point in America's global leadership," Ghitis concluded, "but only if you look at it with one eye closed." Read More Like Morrison, theologian and activist Keith Magee pondered the brutal, dehumanizing cost of a race-fueled fear of change on all Americans. Writing specifically as a Black father of a young Black son, Magee addressed White teenage males after the slaughter in Buffalo to express empathy with the change and trauma of 21st century pandemic life -- and ask a question. "Because you are male, you were born a winner of the patriarchal jackpot. You are more likely to rise to the top of the career ladder and will be better paid on your way up. The state will not attempt to dictate what you can and cannot do with your own body. On top of that, because you are White, and you live in a country that is structurally racist, you enjoy the huge privilege your skin color gives you ... My question to you is this -- what are you going to do with all that luck?" He urged young White American men to consider that "luck, like love, is unlimited. The more you share it, the more there is to go around. You will not lose your place in the world if other people are no longer marginalized." Dean Obeidallah rejected the toxic notion that Whiteness could ever define American identity, arguing that that "demographic change is nothing to fear in America. In fact, it's part of what makes our nation so exceptional ... It's why on the Great Seal of the United States we see the words in Latin, 'E Pluribus Unum' -- which means 'Out of Many, One.' Those who reject that philosophy to instead embrace the 'Great Replacement Theory' are literally rejecting what it means to be American." In the wake of a horrific event like the Buffalo massacre, people understandably search for solutions, noted Nicole Hemmer, who observed that the "problem of radicalization and right-wing violence is a deeply entrenched and difficult one, one with complexities that require a society-wide approach across political and social institutions to address ... That endeavor is made more difficult by staunch conservative opposition to necessary reforms. Which doesn't mean it will be impossible to defang right-wing radicalism, but rather that Americans will have to enact systemic changes over the long-term to bring that violence under control." For more: Peniel E. Joseph: Buffalo is part of an unfolding American tragedyPeter Bergen: Deadly shootings like the one in Buffalo could be prevented
Putin's useful allies
The prospect of Sweden and Finland's entry into NATO may be a sign of US global leadership to some, but to others -- notably Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it's not a development to be looked at "positively." Between Erdogan in NATO and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the European Union, Putin has "just enough allies in just enough places to throw a wrench in the efforts of Western alliances to thwart his ambitions -- deepening the wedge between member states that suits his purposes to a tee," wrote David A. Andelman. "Now is the time for democracies to dig in their heels and proclaim that enough is enough."Lincoln Mitchell described the palpable concern in other countries about a possible Russian invasion. Drawing on his time in Tbilisi, Mitchell assessed that "Georgia is a reminder that while US President Joe Biden has consistently, and rightly, expressed concern that escalating the war could lead to a direct conflict between Russia and NATO and possibly even a 'third world war,' there are other places where the war could expand ... Unlike today in Ukraine, the rest of the world did essentially nothing" when Putin invaded Georgia in 2008. "Some here fear the west would respond similarly if Russia invaded again. Others with whom I spoke believe that the western unity and steadfastness against Russia and in support of Ukraine would extend to Georgia in the event of an invasion. Most would rather not find out." Regarding the threat Putin poses in the region, Timothy Snyder argued in The New York Times that recognizing fascism isn't the same as fighting it. A time traveler from the 1930s would have no difficulty identifying the Putin regime as fascist, he wrote. "We understand more about fascism than we did in the 1930s. We now know where it led. We should recognize fascism, because then we know what we are dealing with. But to recognize it is not to undo it. Fascism is not a debating position, but a cult of will that emanates fiction."
All US political eyes were on North Carolina and Pennsylvania this week -- with more action to come on Tuesday in Georgia. With Madison Cawthorn's defeat and Ted Budd's victory in North Carolina, plus primary wins for Big Lie proponent Doug Mastriano and unorthodox Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania -- where the GOP contest for US Senate remains too close to call -- there was no one takeaway for conservatives, progressives or anyone in between. With a mixed primary score card for Trump-endorsed candidates, Doug Heye insisted that it's time to stop viewing the former President as a bellwether for the GOP -- or treating his endorsement as a golden ticket. Peggy Noonan said in The Wall Street Journal that "something new is being built, and it involves the widening of the Republican Party in terms of who wants to join and whom its voters will support." The widening of the GOP ranks to include Elon Musk raised SE Cupp's eyebrows, at least after she heard his reasoning. In the latest episode of "Unfiltered," Cupp argued that Elon Musk can't possibly be voting Republican to escape hate and division, as he has contended on Twitter. She said "joining the GOP to get away from division and hate seems a little like joining the Girl Scouts to get away from Thin Mints, but, hey, it wouldn't be 2022 if some power-hungry, attention-loving man wasn't gaslighting the country, just for fun." For more: David Thornburgh: Pennsylvania has a primary problem Julian Zelizer: Dark clouds are on the horizon for Democrats