Musings —08.26.2016 05:51 AM—
I didn’t say that. God did, in Proverbs 14:21.
Hillary Clinton’s meticulous, pedantic speech about the sin of Donald Trump’s racism yesterday – about which many of you sent me emails and text messages, thank you – was a major speech. It was big. Not because of the subject matter – all of us have known for some time that Trump has built his campaign on a foundation of hate. It was extraordinary that, in this day and age, it was a speech that would need to be given in the first place.
1. A major candidate for the office of President of the United States is a proud racist, and he doesn’t hide it. 2. He regularly spews hate. 3. A third of Americans (at least) like what he says.
Think about that.
Hillary did, clearly, and she came up with a speech that read like an papal indictment of a blasphemer. It was sermon – thus my invocation of God, at the outset – and it was delivered with barely-controlled clerical fury. No music, no hoopla, just step up to the podium and lay waste to Trump, point by footnoted point. She eviscerated him.
You can read it all here. You should.
As most of you know, I have been documenting and writing about racism and anti-Semitism and organized hate for more than three decades. I’ve written two books about the subject, Unholy Alliances and Web of Hate. Yesterday, in reaction to Hillary’s speech, most people referenced the latter. But it’s the (lesser-known) former book that is actually more relevant. In that book, I describe how white supremacists and neo-Nazis always devote considerable resources to coming up with a kinder, gentler names for themselves – and how the media are too often suckered into going along. (Back then, they called themselves “the third position.”)
Regrettably, Hillary went on, at some length, about the “alt right” yesterday. You can lose a lot of time trying to define it, which is what it’s adherents want you to do. They are big on semantics. Along with alt right, they variously refer to themselves as nativists, nationalists, populists, and sometimes even white nationalists.
But they’re just racists. Racists.
They hate immigration (because it brings in non-whites). They hate the financial system (because it is run by Jews). They hate cultural change (because it has given power to gays and lesbians and others). They hate everyone who isn’t like them, basically.
Ipso facto, they’re just garden-variety bigots. And, therefore, it’s a mistake to do what Hillary did yesterday – call them “alt right,” when they’re simply “racists.” It’s a mistake to assist them in masking their true purpose. It’s a mistake to assist them in their lie.
That criticism aside, her speech was one that will be remembered by history. It made me proud of her that she wanted to deliver that anti-racist sermon when she is so far ahead.
And it made me sad that she needed to.