Calling Out the Deplorables

To those who are voting for Donald Trump: How do you reconcile any of what Trump stands for with what the United States of America is all about?


We should all think long and hard about Hillary Clinton's throwaway line condemning and dismissing the “deplorables” she said make up half of Donald Trump’s supporters — a comment she only retracted to the extent of saying “half” was the wrong percentage.

It’s easy to seize on the statement as a gaffe that suggests Clinton doesn’t understand the job she seeks: No American President can write off millions of Americans as hopeless or unworthy of respect. It’s also easy, especially in New York, to agree with Clinton and characterize many Trump followers as intolerant bigots.

But behind the political gamesmanship of the moment is a big question that’s been haunting the campaign for months: Exactly how much respect or deference do the rest of us owe to the extremists flocking to the Trump campaign, who have already signaled their willingness to tear down the vital institutions of democracy, including tolerance itself?

The question first occurred to me last November, when video footage showed an activist named Mercutio Southall being cursed, punched and beaten at a Trump rally as the candidate shouted “Get him the hell out of here!” and the next day affirmed the violence, saying “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

The pattern repeated itself at various Trump rallies: violence against protesters, egged on from the podium by the candidate himself. It soon became clear that some of the scummiest people in America were attracted to, and endorsing, Trump’s words and campaign message — notably, Ku Klux Klan leader and convicted felon David Duke, along with a band of mostly anonymous online hatemongers who call themselves the alternative right (alt-right for short).

“The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in,” said one miscreant, the self-described imperial wizard of the Virginia-based Rebel Brigade Knights of the KKK.

Trump has repeatedly given a big sly wink to the racists and xenophobes. In February, after pretending he didn’t know Duke or what he stood for, and offering the childish lie that his earpiece wasn’t working when the question was put to him by a journalist, Trump grudgingly said, “I disavow, OK?”

No, not OK.

Trump has never apologized for widely promoting the conspiracy theory that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. He has never retracted the lie that he saw “thousands and thousands of people” in Jersey City cheering on 9/11 as the World Trade Center collapsed.

In July, journalists reported that Trump had retweeted an anti-Semitic image — Clinton’s face backed by stacks of money and the image of a Star of David — created by an alt-right activist.

“They took the star down,” Trump said in a speech. “I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it, just leave it up, and say, ‘No, that’s not a Star of David. That’s just a star.’ ”

When Trump was told on “Meet the Press” that he’d retweeted a quote from the Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini — “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep” — he responded by telling host Chuck Todd: “What difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else? It’s certainly a very interesting quote.”

He continued: “I have almost 14 million people between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all of that. And we do interesting things. And I sent it out. And certainly, hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

Trump’s commitment to “do interesting things” included hiring a campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, who proudly calls the Breitbart media organization he ran “the platform for the alt-right.”

All of this could turn out to be just another zany presidential campaign in which some wacky characters and statements parade across the public stage and things return to normal after Election Day. Or it could be something else.

After the defeat of fascism in World War II, philosophers like Karl Popper and John Rawls wrestled with the paradox of tolerance: the reality that a tolerant, open society can end up committing suicide by welcoming people who are bent on weakening and destroying that openness.

KKK terrorists don’t deserve anybody’s respect or regard, and anybody who traffics in anti-Semitism should be condemned early and often. Many mainstream Republicans, and now Clinton, have been sounding the alarm that we need to nudge the extremists back to the political wilderness they came from.

That will be true long after Election Day. And it’s everybody’s job to make it happen.

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Comments (8)

  1. Neighsayer

    The 2nd. Amendment isn’t there to protect us from liberal women, America, but from authoritarian men, remember?

    September 13, 2016
  2. GovMisdirection


    September 14, 2016
  3. trollskogen

    note who the demonstrators are- always liberals. Republicans would never allow themselves to get that low!

    September 15, 2016
    1. deaconjim

      You either didn’t read all of it or you didn’t understand it. The deplorables are Trump supporters. The editorial is against Trump, his lies, and his actions. The KKK supports Trump.
      BTW, the Republicans have allowed themselves to get lower than that by attacking protesters instead of trying argue their side. For two reasons: their arguments are weak and can’t stand up to the facts and Trump has encouraged them to get violent and beat people who don’t agree with them. Trump even offered to pay their legal bills. The deplorables start at the top with Trump and include half or more of his supporters.

      September 15, 2016
      1. fuall

        I’m not a Trump supporter, but I think you need to read a bit more or pay better attention. There has only been the one dumbass injured at a Trump rally. He came there to be a disruptive asshole to thousands of people and went thoroughly out of his way to be as rude and disrespectful as possible to those thousands of people until one 72 year old man forearm-smashed him in his smug, piece-of-shit face. He brought that on himself and deserved what he got, as I’ve said before. As for the rest of the so-called violence, if you were paying any attention at all, rather than simply spouting your hate, you would know that the source of EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE OF VIOLENCE IN THIS ELECTION has started with, and been perpetrated by DEMOCRAT protesters that show up with the specific intent of causing violence and distruction. I would be happy to read anything you can find that shows a Trump supporter started ANYTHING, or another incident where a Trump supporter assaulted someone. In contrast, here are just a few links that come up with a basic Google search:

        These violent thugs couldn’t even keep from injuring a police horse! They blocked and stopped traffic, impeding commerce of the local economy and hurting the businesses there, they assaulted police as well as peaceful rally attendees, and broke several laws in each instance. But I can tell you really don’t care about any of those things because they were done by those you support. Rule of law, decency, peaceful disagreement, tolerance…these are all foreign concepts to these violent, hate-filled thugs that you support and defend. And I’ll reiterate here, I AM NOT A TRUMP SUPPORTER, and will not attempt to justify anything in his platform, so you can save whatever commentary you have on that and stick to any facts that may support your statement on this particular argument. (Except I don’t think you can, because there aren’t any.)

        September 28, 2016
        1. deaconjim

          Hillary Clinton and Bernie Ssnders didn’t encourage people to punch others and didn’t offer to pay legal for any thugs. What protesters did, they did on their own. I hope they were all arrested. I support the csndidate, not thugs.

          September 28, 2016
  4. croker

    Interesting as poll shows that, at least, a third of Clinton’s supporters fit her definition of a “deplorables” and no doubt she will be asking them not to vote for her.

    September 28, 2016
  5. kellyrpalmer

    Here writer has used a word " Deplorables" which is a spanish word. I hope everyone from bestessays service will enjoy this stuff because its theme is really different from others. But besides this I wanna suggest writer to precise your data and add some interesting things like pictures and videos etc.

    November 01, 2016