Pathologising Donald Trump Supporters Will Not Diminish His Appeal

The voices in this New York Times video of Donald Trump supporters may be “unfiltered”, but they were chosen very carefully indeed to reinforce every negative liberal stereotype about people who have the temerity to support Donald Trump

It is hard to understand exactly the New York Times thinks it is trying to accomplish with videos like this one, published today, scornfully “studying” Donald Trump supporters with a keen anthropologist’s eye, while tarring his many moderate supporters by associating them all with the most intemperate, rude and racist characters that their camera can find.

The Times helpfully explains to its readers that “at Donald Trump’s rallies, some supporters express themselves with slurs and violent language”, before linking them to a video in which the absolute worst dregs of the Trump campaign are paraded before the Times’ liberal audience like it were some kind of Victorian circus freak show.

And sure enough, after the obligatory trigger warning from the Times, the video’s subjects make themselves look extremely stupid, as well as racist and misogynistic in places. But this in itself is hardly surprising – it is obvious that racists and other undesirables will be disproportionately (though not exclusively) drawn to a populist politician like Trump, but this does not mean that a majority of Trump supporters share these vile sentiments.

In fact, one wonders why the liberal media which goes to excessive pains to avoid linking all Muslims with the actions of Islamist terrorists, and which frets about broadcasting the names and biographies of mass shooting perpetrators suddenly loses all squeamishness when it comes to linking all Donald Trump supporters with the specimens shown in their video. Why does the Times titillate its readers by showing the worst side of the Donald Trump campaign rather than making a hard-hitting and informative piece  debating the issues with some of the many Trump supporters who turn up to his rallies minus white robes and burning crosses?

If anything, this video reveals the bias of the New York Times, and the desperate liberal (in the American sense of the word) need to paint anything contradictory to their own worldview as being seeded in intolerance, bigotry and hate. This bias is never clearer when the Times’ video attempts to portray Trump supporters as anti-immigration, period. At one point in the video, an editor’s caption reads “vitriolic language is often aimed at immigrants”.

If the filmmakers wanted to produce a respectable, balanced piece rather than juicy footage for their Trump freak show, they might have engaged those supporters in conversation. But had they done so, it would have quickly become apparent that the Trump supporters oppose illegal immigration, not all immigration. These days, of course, the decadent New York Times is completely incapable of distinguishing between the two. All immigrants are saintly figures holding hands beneath a rainbow to the Times, a newspaper which long ago ceased any mention of illegality and started talking about “undocumented” migrants instead (whoops, where did their documents go, one wonders). And so the camera rolls, the supporters chant “build the wall!” and New York Times readers are bolstered in their prejudice that anybody who opposes illegal immigration is a big fat racist who actually opposes all immigration.

And so it goes on, for issue after issue. Legitimate questions and concerns about Hillary Clinton’s conduct and record are ignored while footage of a Trump supporter shouting “Hillary is a whore!” feeds the narrative that Trump supporters are entirely unreasoning and uncouth creatures. Serious questions about how the American political establishment speaks about and responds to Islamist terror attacks are swatted aside so that we can focus on the redneck wearing a “Fuck Islam” shirt. Forget nuance. Forget the decent people who go to Trump rallies as a fun family day out. Just focus on the morons and reinforce the message: the people who support Donald Trump are as unacceptable as the candidate himself.

Watching the New York Times (and much of the establishment media) report on Donald Trump supporters is like watching a David Attenborough wildlife documentary in which the grizzled naturalist attempts to explain to us the feeding and mating rituals of some lower primate species – recognisably similar to us in some ways, but far more primitive and with rituals and customs which we civilised people cannot possibly understand without their expert interpretation.

Watch the video. I challenge you to watch it and come away feeling anything other than that this is an unbearably condescending hit piece on Trump supporters, a nauseating attempt by a Clinton-backing newspaper to “play to the gallery” with a compilation of all the worst Trump supporters imaginable rather than an attempt at serious journalistic enquiry.

I’ve said it before (in the context of the Brexit debate and, repeatedly, the US presidential election) and I’ll say it again: pathologising one’s political opponents and assuming (or at least publicly declaring) that they are motivated by hatred and malevolence is the sure path to defeat, and is no way to unite a fraying country. And prissy little video explainers like this one by the New York Times only serve to further divide Americans, giving liberals more reason to be smug and Trump supporters more reason to feel besieged.

Imagine that you are a wealthy, Times-reading East Coaster. Does this video make you question any of the beliefs which currently make you want to vote for Hillary Clinton? Does the video make you question whether the Trump supporters have even the kernel of a legitimate point about immigration, or trade, or national security? Or does the video boldly reinforce all of your existing prejudices about Trump supporters, reassure you that you are quite right to fear and despise them, and encourage you to keep shouting your own message louder and louder rather seeking dialogue with people the New York Times clearly portrays as being impenetrable to reason?

This is coastal elitist mockery of flyover country writ large. It is unbearably sanctimonious, and does nothing to further understanding and dialogue between Americans of different political and cultural backgrounds. It serves to further validate the accurate perception among Trump supporters that they are looked down on and belittled by the rest of the country. And, if another external economic, security or political shock turns this election into a dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the high-handedly arrogant way in which the establishment media treats the insurgents could push Donald Trump over the line on Tuesday 8 November.

This blog has no time whatsoever for Donald Trump. But I have endless time for his supporters, the majority of whom are decent people – to think otherwise would be to write off a massive proportion of the country based on their political views. And while I firmly believe that Trump’s simplistic solutions, policy ignorance and prickly ego would do immense harm if set loose in the Oval Office, right now I am more offended by the New York Times’ portrayal of all Trump supporters as though they are somehow less than human, less intelligent, with less self control and possessed of unique and grievous character defects which are supposedly entirely missing from their more enlightened, liberal compatriots.

One expects this kind of two-dimensional, good vs evil, sanctimonious ra-ra nonsense from the Huffington Post or other leftist agitprop sites. But the New York Times supposedly aspires to something higher, something more closely resembling journalism.

Everything about this video fails that test.


Donald Trump Protesters - St Louis

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