The Abnormalization Of President Trump

Abnormalization of Donald Trump

Donald Trump is not the first US president to ride roughshod over the Constitution or flout the checks and balances on executive power – and an honest media with any credibility would acknowledge as much

In highlighting the latest craven example of oversensitive American university students and administrations rescinding invitations to prominent conservative-leaning speakers, the Washington Post reports:

Once reserved for cheesy senior photos at campus landmarks, college commencement exercises have graduated into something different six months after Donald Trump was elected president: a battleground for protesting conservative policies and the people who promote them.

This is incredibly disingenuous. The trend of academic institutions and strident students refusing to tolerate the presence of anybody whose opinions diverge from the current leftist, social justice orthodoxy has been on the ascendance for well over a decade now, has accelerated rapidly in the last five years and has been widely commented on, written about and discussed – not least on this blog.

And yet here the Washington Post seeks to present the “student snowflake” syndrome as a new development which only now is rearing its head “six months after Donald Trump was elected president”. This comes perilously close to excusing the rising tide of illiberalism as merely a symptom or reaction against Trump’s unexpected victory, when in actual fact anybody with a functioning brain knows that Donald Trump’s victory was largely the symptom or reaction against the illiberal, intolerant Control Left.

But we are now witnessing a trend of articles and Op-Eds such as this, all seeking to portray every last one of Donald Trump’s actions as US president as being extreme and unprecedented in recent history. On foreign policy, domestic policy, constitutional matters and social issues, critics of Donald Trump (including the prestige Washington media) often seek to portray Trump as far more extreme than he has thus far shown himself to be, at least as far as policy initiatives and executive actions are concerned.

None of this is to support Donald Trump or excuse the atrocious start he has made to his presidency, which has been characterised by one largely self-inflicted political wound after another. Rather, the point is that by falsely pretending that every time Donald Trump breathes he is gravely wounding the Republic in ways unmatched by any previous president, Trump’s critics and the media inadvertently excuse serious failings in US policy and of past US administrations which deserve to be studied, criticised and rectified rather than merely glossed over.

Nicole Hemmer picked up on some of these areas as part of an article in Politico Magazine:

Many journalists covering the White House have lapsed into a practice of “Trump exceptionalism,” a tendency to assume each move the administration makes is new and nefarious. This assumption comes from a well-meaning place—a worry that they will be complicit in normalizing dangerous behavior in an American leader. But there are real risks, too.

First, it leads to quick-trigger panic over events that are normal. Take the reaction to the administration’s dismissal of 46 U.S. attorneys. Journalists framed it as a purge, and the panic escalated when one of those attorneys, Preet Bharara, refused to resign and was subsequently fired. But the dismissal of U.S. attorneys has been standard practice since the 1990s. The novel behavior here was Bharara’s. There’s a cost to getting this wrong: Cry wolf too many times, and readers are less likely to listen when the real dangers appear.

But perhaps the more important consequence of Trump exceptionalism is that it encourages journalists to overlook continuities. Trump is an abnormal president, unprecedented in many ways. But he is not sui generis. His anti-Muslim policies, hard-line anti-immigration stance, even his economic populism and free-trade skepticism all have long histories—even within mainstream conservatism. His nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was as straightforwardly Republican as it gets.

One can quibble over the wording and focus of Hemmer’s argument – hysterically and disingenuously talking about Trump being “anti-immigration” when he has expressed no clear reservations whatsoever about legal immigration, for example. But her basic point is correct – inexperienced and superficial DC journalists have been too eager to cram every piece of news into their “Trump is unprecedented” narrative, whether each individual action happens to fit the mould or not.

When it comes to the Trump administration’s recent overtures to more authoritarian regimes (including Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s dictator-in-gestation Recep Tayyip Erdoğan), Glenn Greenwald does a far better job counting the ways that US support for morally questionable allies is far from unprecedented:

Since at least the end of World War II, supporting the world’s worst despots has been a central plank of U.S. foreign policy, arguably its defining attribute. The list of U.S.-supported tyrants is too long to count, but the strategic rationale has been consistent: In a world where anti-American sentiment is prevalent, democracy often produces leaders who impede rather than serve U.S. interests.

Imposing or propping up dictators subservient to the U.S. has long been, and continues to be, the preferred means for U.S. policymakers to ensure that those inconvenient popular beliefs are suppressed. None of this is remotely controversial or even debatable. U.S. support for tyrants has largely been conducted out in the open, and has been expressly defended and affirmed for decades by the most mainstream and influential U.S. policy experts and media outlets.

The foreign policy guru most beloved and respected in Washington, Henry Kissinger, built his career on embracing and propping up the most savage tyrants because of their obeisance to U.S. objectives. Among the statesman’s highlights, as Greg Grandin documented, he “pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan”; “began the U.S.’s arms-for-petrodollars dependency with Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Iran”; and “supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America.” Kissinger congratulated Argentina’s military junta for its mass killings and aggressively enabled the genocide carried out by one of the 20th century’s worst monsters, the Indonesian dictator and close U.S. ally Suharto.

Nor is Trump’s foreign policy behaviour a particular departure from more recent US administrations:

U.S. devotion to the world’s worst dictators did not end, or even recede, upon the end of the Cold War. Both the Bush and Obama administrations continually armed, funded, supported, and praised the world’s worst dictators.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually said of the murderous Egyptian dictator supported by the U.S.: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” When Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, overthrew that country’s first elected government, Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, hailed him for “restoring democracy,” and as Sisi became more brutal and repressive, the Obama administration lavished him with more weapons and money. The U.S. government did the same for the human-rights abusing dictators in Bahrain.

And of course this is to say nothing of Saudi Arabia.

It is bad enough having a US president who seems to suffer from self-delusions. That the Washington media and commentariat are engaging in fantastical delusions of their own is doubly dangerous for American democracy and policy.

To read the combined output of the American media, one would be forgiven for thinking that the George W. Bush administration never sanctioned the illegal torture of prisoners through dubious legal memos, and that the Obama administration never once decided to blast American citizens off the face of the earth with drone strikes, maintaining a “kill list” of US citizens who could be zapped without any due process.

No, apparently all of these sins are now forgiven – to the extent that the servile, sycophantic Washington media bothered to hold past administrations or senior officials accountable for their actions in the first place, generally preferring to party and intermarry with the political elite rather than be remotely adversarial.

In fact, the harsh truth is this: the only reason that Trump administration officials are being dragged over the coals for their own skirting of the Constitution and departures from US diplomatic and international norms are that Donald Trump has refused to cozy up to the Washington media class in the manner typical to all previous presidents, and so has failed to build up the traditional reserves of goodwill which would otherwise lead to effective immunity from scrutiny or criticism of himself and his administration.

This is a real and pressing problem, because every instance when the mainstream US media freaks out and acts as though Donald Trump is breaking new ground in authoritarianism by simply behaving in the same way as his predecessors only serves to drive a wedge between those media outlets and Trump-sympathising voters who already widely distrust the mainstream media – often with good reason.

Trump supporters need to be legitimately informed of occasions when the US president is acting in an unprecedentedly negative way, and examples of such behaviour – like the firing of FBI director James Comey for an ever-changing kaleidoscope of official reasons – are already rapidly mounting up. But their impact is massively diluted when Trump supporters have legitimate reason to believe that the media, angry at their rude treatment by the White House, is deliberately whipping every story into a major scandal, regardless of individual merit.

And the same goes for the rest of us, too. It does dissenting Republicans, Democrats and independents no favours when their every prejudice about Donald Trump is endlessly reconfirmed by an hysterical media which was only too happy to overlook some of the same faults, vices and mistakes in his predecessors of both parties. This behaviour by the media is not new, but the partisan debasement of political journalism has certainly sunk to new lows since Donald Trump took office.

A strong, almost irrefutable argument can be made that Donald Trump has brought the US presidency to an historical nadir through his personal coarseness, egotism, vengefulness and sheer inability to get to grips with public policy. The degree to which Trump’s political radar – so astute in helping him triumph over the establishment in the Republican primaries and general election – has now deserted him as he seeks to manipulate the levers of power in Washington D.C. is remarkable, if somewhat predictable.

Last week, a journalist was arrested in Washington D.C. for questioning Donald Trump’s Health & Human Services secretary, Tom Price, supposedly too aggressively. The alarming story was widely covered in American media at the time, but it has not driven the news cycle to nearly the same extent as other events which have ultimately proved to be little more than Donald Trump following the precedent set by previous administrations.

Why? Because too many in the media are ready and eager to go to DEFCON 1 every time that Trump opens his mouth, rather than cross-checking to see whether the latest presidential pronouncement or action is genuinely unprecedented or merely a more coarsely-worded rehash of something which would have gone unreported during the Clinton, Bush or Obama years.

Those of us with an active interest in the US media repairing and retaining its credibility in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency should demand better from journalists, pundits and TV talking heads who currently paint every decision made by the Trump White House as an unprecedented step down the road to dictatorship.

The prestige media pretending to its audience that Donald Trump’s upcoming meetings with authoritarian dictators like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are somehow unprecedented in American history is every bit as “fake news” as the ludicrous stories on the fringe Right about President Obama operating a paedophile ring out of the White House – only the prestige media’s lies and distortions are ultimately far more damaging, being read and believed by people with real power and influence in American society.

In short, Donald Trump is providing enough fresh new worrying material for us all. There is no need for the media to add to the drama by inventing more.

 

Donald Trump speaks to reporters

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At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, The Political Media Circle-Jerk Proceeded Minus Donald Trump

White House Correspondents Dinner - First Amendment - Washington Political Media

At the annual Washington D.C. bash, the political media class were more concerned by the lack of Hollywood celebrities to ogle than the fact that half the country holds them in contempt, feels deliberately misunderstood and distrusts nearly everything that they have to say

The Washington Post reported today on the fact that brave members of the Washington D.C. political media class somehow managed to soldier on and enjoy themselves at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and associated glitzy after-parties despite President Trump’s cruel boycott of the event (Trump decided to hold another one of his dubious rally-style events in Pennsylvania).

Without a single hint of self-awareness, the Post reports:

His voters sent him to Washington to break stuff, and this weekend Donald Trump tried to break the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association. As with some of his business ventures, he was not wholly successful.

“They’re trapped at the dinner,” the president boomed at a rally in Harrisburg, Pa., celebrating his first 100 days in office. “Which will be very, very boring.”

Instead, it was just fine. It happened. There’s an inertia to these Washington traditions, and a determination to soldier on in the face of — whatever it is we’re facing. Everyone survived this weekend without the president, or without the crush of Hollywood celebrities who for years had been decorating the dinner in ever-increasing density, until now.

It was a bit like an off-year high school reunion: diminished numbers and fewer crazy stories but still no shortage of hors d’oeuvres and dancing and gossip. Everyone settled for sightings of Michael Steele and Debbie Dingell instead of Jon Hamm or a Kardashian. In past years, virtually the entire cast of “Modern Family” would come to the dinner; this year, United Talent Agency only secured the kid who plays Luke.

Well, now we can all sleep easy in our beds. Despite the president of the United States refusing to perform the traditional routine of being self-deprecating and massaging the egos of the people supposed to hold him to account, the Washington press corps somehow managed to rescue the evening and enjoy themselves. Despite being deprived of the opportunity to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, the assembled journalists and media executives still managed to mingle, network and slap each other on the backs for a job well done serving the interests of American democracy.

Aren’t you relieved? I know that I am.

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Was it only a year ago that Barack Obama dropped the mic, literally, at his final correspondents’ dinner, as if to put an exclamation point on eight years of media savvy and pop-culture propaganda? He knew his role in this circus. It was Obama’s yearly chance to inspire a meme, rib a rival, come off as folksy royalty, remind the public that the media was not the enemy. His cool factor iced out the haters, smudged away red lines, papered over unkept promises. Afterward, the French ambassador’s mansion would swell with swells — both conservatives and liberals, all buddy-buddy in private, united by the daytime charade they pulled off together on TV.

As yes, good old Obama knew his place, knew his role in the “circus” – to dance like a performing seal in an attempt to make the self-satisfied hacks chuckle. Sure, Obama was more successful than most – thanks to a largely uninquisitive media he managed to maintain the “cool factor” right to the end of his presidency – but he stayed firmly within the tramlines of what was expected of him.

And what was that role? What has it traditionally been for administration after administration? Nothing more than making the media class look noble for one evening a year when they spend the other 364 making themselves look tawdry and partisan. Fudging important ideological questions and reducing them to laughing points. Papering over “unkept promises” as the trivialities that they are to the Washington political class – little frauds perpetrated on the American voters, some of whom are naive enough to expect political promises to be kept.

But the Washington Post is certainly in no mood to dwell on the accumulated failure of prestige American news outlets to hold leaders to account or properly represent the range of interests and opinion in the country. After all, the Post are enjoying a bumper season of increased subscriptions and web traffic thanks to the Trump presidency, drunk not on $25 cocktails but on their own sense of nobility (as evidenced by their hilariously overwrought “Democracy Dies In Darkness” motto).

Indeed, the Washington Post seems most anxious for us to know that this year’s event was a dud because Trump might have attended, not because he ultimately chose not to do so:

The guest list suffered not because Trump sent his regrets but, more likely, because of the chance he might attend; he remains dauntingly unpopular with the New York and Hollywood A-list that he had long aspired to join. The pre-dinner receptions, hosted by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, were staid and perfunctory, absent the usual angling for a sighting of a “Game of Thrones” star.

Apparently at no point has it occurred to the Post or other such outlets whether the presence of Hollywood celebrities at a political media event might actually be a bad thing rather than something to be celebrated and missed in its absence. It is merely taken for granted that the presence of numerous multimillionaires from the entertainment industry is some kind of sign that the health of American political journalism and culture is in fine fettle.

The focus of the stripped-down event was on defending free speech and celebrating the importance of a free press guaranteed under the First Amendment, something which we can certainly all applaud but which rarely merited such prime-time coverage when the Obama industry was, say, prosecuting whistleblowers with uncommon zeal. Has Trump made numerous troubling statements with regard to freedom of the press, libel laws and freedom of speech and association in general? Absolutely.  But it is telling that much of the media is happy to trumpet the issue now, when it costs them little reputationally or financially, but maintained a pained silence under a more popular “liberal” president.

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The dinner itself featured a dutiful pep talk by Watergate legends Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“Mr. President, the media is not fake news,” Woodward said from the dais, and the media elite applauded.

“CNN and MSNBC are fake news,” Trump said in Pennsylvania, and some of the 97 percent who say they’d still vote for him applauded.

Two worlds, talking past each other, from 100 miles apart. The latest prime-time iteration of POTUS vs. Beltway.

Only it isn’t just POTUS vs Beltway. It is half of America versus the Beltway news outlets and punditocracy. The cosseted Washington media class is so busy being angry at Donald Trump for his bombastic insults and threats that they remain largely unable to look beyond the president to see the many Americans who may not agree with Trump but who share his hatred of the people who filter and report the news.

As this blog has previously discussed, the mainstream American news media is indeed not “fake news” inasmuch as the likes of CNN or the New York Times do not routinely print sensationalist and patently false accounts of fabricated events designed to excite partisan zealots. But they have other far more insidious and effective methods of shaping the narrative through their editorial stances and very deliberate use of language.

As I wrote last year:

Fake news can incorporate false facts, but also correct facts which have been deliberately misinterpreted or spun. And far more insidious than any one fake news story, no matter how egregious, is the way in which language is often used to subtly change public perceptions over time – note how we now speak about “undocumented” rather than “illegal ” immigrants, a change adopted by nearly all of the mainstream media in America, and now in Britain too.

When the media is secretly complicit in ideologically-driven agendas, trust in the more reputable media is rightly weakened. But this leaves people more vulnerable to peddlers of deliberately fake news, as they search for alternatives. The obvious answer is for mainstream prestige outlets to rediscover their integrity and stop forcing readers away with ideologically skewed coverage, but they will not desist, and so they fuel the exodus of readers away to the fringes of the internet, a place where the more outrageous a story sounds, the more people will read it.

But there they all sat, facing a stage emblazoned with the words “Celebrating the First Amendment” and no doubt feeling inordinately pleased with themselves for the stellar work they believe they are doing in standing up to the Trumpian dystopia, unaware or more likely just unconcerned by just how hated and distrusted they are throughout vast swathes of their own country.

The New York Times had an interesting feature article today looking at the upcoming final round of the French presidential election between centrist empty-suit Emmanuel “status quo” Macron and depressing protectionism advocate Marine Le Pen. The piece focuses on the struggling northern town of Calais, a place I know quite well through many visits during my adolescence, and is actually quite fair in its examination of the erosion of the town’s biggest industry in the face of global competition and the lack of political answers

For a piece of New York Times journalism, it is pretty good – especially compared to their godawful “Will London Fall?” hitpiece on Britain and their generally hysterical and uncomprehending coverage of Brexit.

The only problem? The New York Times has to send reporters on expeditions into towns like Calais in order to talk to the locals and get to know their concerns, just as American reporters descended with newfound intensity on Trumpland after the US presidential election trying to figure out what went wrong, and just as shellshocked London political journalists stumbled shellshocked beyond the great metropolis in a bid to understand what Middle England was thinking.

The New York Times article’s author, Liz Alderman, is naturally based at the newspaper’s Paris bureau. Unless she makes a conscious effort, nearly every human interaction she makes will be likely with somebody who intends to vote for Macron in the second round. This is not to impugn Alderman’s work or journalistic ethics – the Calais piece proves that she does seek out contrary opinions in the unloved regions of France when required. But when the majority of your professional and social life is spent among people who hold one set of values, the occasional field trip to the other side of the tracks cannot make up for deep-rooted understanding of – and empathy with – the more pro-globalism, pro-EU, pro-market side.

And so it is in Washington D.C. The people who gather each year for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (and then grumble about how they no longer get to rub shoulders with Hollywood stars thanks to the big bully in the White House) may make the occasional foray into Trumpland if the needs of a story require it. But the vast, vast majority do not live the lives of Trump supporters, nor live among them, nor count such people among their friends or family. And you simply cannot report fairly, accurately or honestly about people whom you have to interview to get any kind of sense of who they are or what their hopes, dreams and fears may be.

The White House Correspondents’ Association clearly does not care. They have calculated that they can prosper just fine by continuing to swagger around like noble seekers of truth, bellowing about free speech and holding President Trump to “account” (while furiously ignoring just how much their lust for TV ratings and pageviews fuelled his rise in the first place). But should one of the tuxedoed dinner attendees ever stop to wonder how Donald Trump is able to effortlessly turn a crowd of people against the media at a campaign rally, this is the reason.

Trump’s non-attendance was the perfect excuse to cancel a sleazy and tawdry annual event which should have been axed many years ago, if only the bipartisan ruling class had any self-awareness or a care for how they appeared to the rest of the country.

But even now they party on, while America burns.

 

Chris Matthews - Al Sharpton - MSNBC

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Immigration And The Media, Part 2

I am undocumented illegal immigrant shirt

In Social Justice Land, flouting US immigration law is deliberately portrayed as a badge of honour

This dispatch from deep inside SJW-land, purporting to provide “undocumented immigrants” with ways to “love themselves”, warrants line-by-line deconstruction.

Ella Mendoza writes at Everyday Feminism (naturally):

When you’re constantly the subject of laws, amendments, and media speculation, it’s easy to forget that you’re more than just a number.

Technically we are all the “subject” of laws and amendments – the Rule of Law isn’t some spiteful system concocted for the specific purpose of tormenting only those who choose not to respect national borders. But let us continue.

Your existence is valid, regardless of how you crossed the border, where you’re from, and where you’re today. Human beings cannot be “illegal,” especially in a country whose laws are built on the enslavement of Black people and the murder of Native people.

When the government talks about laws upon our bodies, we have to remember that no matter how much they tell us that our existence is “illegal,” they’re wrong.

Here is the first disingenuous straw man argument – and it only took us two sentences to get there. Nobody, not even the most hardcore anti-immigration zealot, believes that people themselves are illegal. That would be stupid. Nobody disputes that everyone’s existence is “valid”. Everyone is a child of God (if you believe in God), everyone has certain inherent and inalienable rights. But those rights do not presently include sticking a pin in a map and deciding to relocate to another country without first obeying that country’s immigration laws and procedures. The crime or civil violation is illegal, not the person, just as someone who drives faster than the speed limit or burgles someone’s house does not become personally illegal because of their transgression.

But it so suits the propaganda purposes of the open borders zealots to roll around on the floor pretending that Evil Conservatives are declaring their very bodies “illegal” (and what is this strange obsession with bodies in SJW-land?) that they cannot bring themselves to let the deception go. Pretending that border control advocates consider All Immigrants (activists deliberately blur the line between legal and “undocumented”) to be inherently illegitimate makes it easier to accuse them of wanton, inhumane cruelty rather than intellectually engaging with their argument and doing the much harder job of making a coherent case for a borderless world.

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Take Time to Take Care of Your Needs

Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do, as everyone faces undocumentation in different ways, and through different lenses.

“Faces undocumentation”? What a peculiar turn of phrase. It is almost as though the author is trying to suggest that “undocumentation” is a condition inflicted upon a hapless victim (whoops! where did my documents go?) by the snarling, evil state rather than the consequence of a person’s deliberate decision to violate immigration law.

As a small-C conservative who believes in upholding and strengthening the nation state but who maintains great sympathy with America’s illegal immigrant population – and who would gladly see some form of amnesty so long as it were part of a grand bargain, to be enacted when border security and internal cooperation between agencies is properly strengthened – I would have a lot more respect for illegal immigration advocates if they would just stop lying.

But unfortunately they seem determined to insult our intelligence at every turn, first by always talking about “immigrants” in general, so as to blur the line between those who followed the rules and those who did not, and secondly by pretending that illegal or “undocumented” status is something inflicted on the subject by government rather than being the direct consequence of their own action (or the action of family members in the case of minors).

How can one have a meaningful dialogue with people who have convinced themselves that your desire to see the law enforced and legal immigrants treated fairly means that you consider the very existence of “undocumented” people to be illegal? Where is the potential compromise with somebody who has no respect for the law and who will not be satisfied with anything less than fully open borders and the de facto abolition of nation states?

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As migrants, we have been taught that in order to have our needs met, we must assimilate and work through the system. But this is not true.

No, sorry, not migrants. Illegal immigrants. But yes, no matter how one comes to be in a new country, assimilating into that culture and learning to work through existing systems is surely pretty sound advice. What good do activists like Ella Mendoza possibly think they are doing by telling people that they should refuse to assimilate as a point of pride?

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As someone who has made up her mind about not pursuing citizenship, I often find myself questioning not just this choice, but all choices in my life.

Wait, what? The natural reading of this sentence would suggest that Ella Mendoza has the opportunity to pursue US citizenship but has “made up her mind” to instead remain an illegal immigrant in America. This is preposterous – she should question her choice, and continue questioning it until she arrives at a less moronic answer. Why willingly remain in the shadows if there is a path to citizenship available, other than to deliberately thumb your nose at the very concept of citizenship in the first place?

I can think of no other reason for this – readers, please correct me if I am wrong – than the fact that Mendoza is so wedded to the idea of herself as a hapless, persecuted victim that she is unwilling to take the steps toward legalisation and citizenship because to do so would deprive her of a critical part of her identity as a persecuted “undocumented” person. This is a sickness, pure and simple – how else to describe deliberate, self-inflicted fragility of this kind?

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Allow yourself to breathe and make hard choices, as well as postpone the easy ones. Sometimes time can feel so heavy and so uncertain. By being hard on ourselves, we are only traumatizing our bodies more and more.

Remember that you made the right choice by choosing to live.

Though many will tell you that you could’ve done it differently, remember that your migration to this country meant choosing to survive, no matter what.

Your body has survived the trauma of borders and the bureaucracy of colonization. You’re a living breathing testament to your dreams.

What is this weepy, overwrought nonsense?

Look: many people currently living illegally in America are deserving of real sympathy – pulled as much as pushed into their adopted country by a rapacious underground economy which demanded their labour and let down by successive generations of politicians who preferred them to toil cheaply in the shadows rather than acknowledge their contributions or confer the rights – and responsibilities – of citizenship. Local, state and federal government (not to mention unscrupulous employers) often bear equal responsibility for the situation, but this does not diminish the agency and responsibility of those who nonetheless choose to flout federal immigration law.

And of course many people currently living illegally in America have indeed faced trauma, violence and persecution in their home countries, that much is also not disputed. And by virtue of that fact, many (though certainly not all) illegal immigrants are sadly accustomed to adversity the likes of which most of us can scarcely imagine. Therefore, the last thing that they probably need is some prancing SJW to come along to infantilise them and teach them how to better “love themselves”. This kind of kindergarten nonsense is effective only on cosseted middle class American college kids who grew up entirely ignorant of real hunger, want or danger, and who actually think that somebody saying something mean about them online or in a newspaper article constitutes a mortal danger and an assault on their person.

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Colonization and assimilation are both very hard subjects on our bodies. As migrants, we’re not from here, and as undocumented migrants, we’re told that we don’t belong here, either.

In order to survive, we’re often forced to adapt to a country whose culture consists of appropriation and theft, as well as an overwhelming amount of artificial media.

Decolonizing our bodies is more than just a ten-step program.

Well done for avoiding Nicholas Kristof’s mistake of comparing “oppression” to a twelve-step recovery program from addiction; ten steps is much more neutral.

It’s a daily practice of reconnecting and challenging the way our lives have been whitewashed, challenging the ways our bodies have been educated to assimilate into a system that profits from our struggle.

Let’s put aside the irony of someone who claims to speak for an army of people who intend to settle in a new country in flagrant defiance of local immigration laws while proudly refusing to assimilate (her words, not mine) into the local culture actually daring to accuse the host population of somehow being the colonists in that situation. I trust that any reader of sound mind will immediately perceive that if anything, the situation is reversed.

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Remind Yourself That You Are Magical

You are a magical human being.

Your body has defied laws and lines on papers and maps. You crossed these lines and now find yourself in a strange place that you have somehow built a home out of.

In order to make this home real, you’ve had to find a way to live, a way to connect, and a way to survive.

Many of us did this without speaking the local language. All of us did this in fear. Yet, through these obstacles you have survived. You’re here, living, and breathing, and still traveling in many ways.

You’re not from here. But you’re not from there either – not anymore.

Instead, you’re from somewhere else.

Your body belongs only to you and the culture you’ve created from living in between worlds. You’re a survivor. You’re a traveler.

What does this garbage even mean? No, you are not “magical”. If you want to be seen as exceptional and deserving of praise and affirmation from dawn to dusk then for heaven’s sake, try doing something exceptional and deserving of praise. Do not expect or demand validation and encouragement for glorifying in your violation of US immigration law, as though there is something inherently virtuous in deciding to jump the queue and demand unearned residency in another country.

If you truly believe – having actually sat down for a few minutes and thought through the consequences of what you are advocating – that you want to swiftly bring about a borderless world where anybody can demand (and be unconditionally granted) residency of any country where they wish to live, with no strings attached and no commensurate responsibilities of citizenship, then by all means make that argument. Be my guest. Explain how tearing down border fences and customs checkpoints while singing Kumbaya can be accomplished without wreaking huge economic disruption and social unrest upon millions if not billions of people. Explain how a society of people who feel entitled to indulge whatever fanciful whim pops into their head without moral restraint or the slightest thought for the consequences creates and maintains a cohesive society. Please, go ahead and make that case.

Just don’t come back with any more of this childish yet cynical and manipulative twaddle about how those evil people who believe in border security and the rule of law are so heartless and cruel that they consider the “bodies” of “undocumented immigrants” to be inherently illegal, their very existence a crime. Try to win the argument on its intellectual and moral merits, if you dare, but enough of the emotional blackmail.

But of course they will not stop. Reductive, black and white arguments and piercing moral outrage are all that the SJWs have left, any intellectual or moral basis for their beliefs having rotted away long ago.

 

Petition to make campus safe for illegal undocumented immigrants

No Human Being Is Illegal

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Immigration And The Media, Part 1

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Because the American media continues to do such an appalling job of covering issues of legal and illegal immigration in the Age of Trump, this blog will start a new series – Immigration And The Media – to shine a spotlight on some of the more insidious ways that the supposedly objective media actually seeks to distort and influence public opinion on the matter.

 

Apparently it takes a Canadian to highlight the cowardice and incompetence which has characterised the American political elite’s mismanagement of immigration policy, and the duplicity of much of the American press who then cover the subject with such overt bias.

Margaret Wente, writing in the the Globe and Mail:

But many of those who anguish about the crackdown have no one to blame but themselves. Immigration policy hasn’t been enforced for years. The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States now stands at around 11 million. (How would you feel if Canada had a million or more illegal immigrants who could receive education, health care and welfare benefits?) Republicans and Democrats alike have been both unwilling and unable to control the country’s borders. The consequences have been borne by ordinary people, not them. When the ruling classes so miserably fail to do their jobs, what you get is Mr. Trump.

America’s mainstream media project an idealized view of immigration as an enduring cornerstone of U.S. greatness. To them, the present will be exactly like the past. Immigrants are portrayed as hard-working strivers whose kids overcome incredible hardships, join the mainstream and go to Harvard.

Some of this is true. But there’s another side. Unchecked illegal immigration has also brought a massive influx of poorly educated, unskilled workers who rely on costly social services and do not exhibit the economic mobility of earlier immigrant waves.

More:

The main beneficiaries of current immigration policy are affluent professionals – who now enjoy an entire servant class of nannies and gardeners – along with businesses that can employ meat-packers and other unskilled labourers at rock-bottom wages. The hardest hit are unskilled native-born Americans who’ve suffered wage declines, job displacement and de-unionization. These people are disproportionately African-American, and many have simply left the job market.

[..] Obviously, there’s no quick fix for problems that have been made infinitely worse by elite negligence. Americans need to decide how to deal with all those illegals. (Even hardliners agree that mass deportation is not an option.) They need to restore control over who gets in. And they need a legal immigration system that’s a lot more like Canada’s. All this, against a background of nativist resentment, xenophobia and racism whipped up by a populist demagogue. And perhaps the worst part is that they brought it on themselves.

Yes. This is a problem that America’s political and media elite – the very people currently found rending their garments, wailing about their supposed persecution at the hands of the authoritarian Trump regime and warning of Kristallnacht-style pogroms aimed against All Immigrants – brought entirely on themselves.

Both political parties were complicit in an unspoken agreement to look the other way and tolerate an intolerable status quo with regard to illegal immigration – intolerable for those who naively expected their government to enforce US immigration law, and intolerable for those millions of people whose presence the elite allowed, even welcomed, so long as they were willing to accept living in a perpetual state of fear, insecurity and illegitimacy as the price for remaining in America.

Meanwhile, America’s prestige journalists and the punditocracy – people who would have been consistently exposing these failures and evasions over the past thirty years (dating back to the last illegal immigration amnesty) had they chosen to actually do their jobs instead of sucking up to power – chose to abuse their platform by taking every opportunity to cynically equate legal and illegal immigration, and to act as though attempts to crack down on the latter are the same as a xenophobia-fuelled attack on the former (at least when enacted by a blowhard Republican president).

The American media bears a huge portion of responsibility for the current impasse on immigration reform and enforcement – their deliberately skewed and manipulative coverage has helped to ensure that many on the Left now see any attempts at enforcing sensible border protection as being an inherently racist attack on all immigrants, and enraged many on the Right to the extent that they have been pushed into the arms of fake news, “populist demagogues” like Donald Trump, or both.

But don’t expect the self-involved media to spend many column inches dwelling on their failure – especially when there is a far more attractive bogeyman  in the White House.

 

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The Reviled American Media, Part 1

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Donald Trump versus the media: bad cop, bad cop

A throwaway line in a Washington Post article goes some way to revealing exactly why the American media is so widely despised and mistrusted.

Musing about why many Trump supporters stubbornly insist on viewing his presidency as a success thus far (rather than the cataclysmic failure portrayed by mainstream narratives), the Post reports:

Several people said they would have liked to see more coverage of a measure that Trump signed Thursday that rolled back a last-minute Obama regulation that would have restricted coal mines from dumping debris in nearby streams. At the signing, Trump was joined by coal miners in hard hats.

“If he hadn’t gotten into office, 70,000 miners would have been put out of work,” Patricia Nana, a 42-year-old naturalized citizen from Cameroon. “I saw the ceremony where he signed that bill, giving them their jobs back, and he had miners with their hard hats and everything — you could see how happy they were.”

The regulation actually would have cost relatively few mining jobs and would have created nearly as many new jobs on the regulatory side, according to a government report — an example of the frequent distance between Trump’s rhetoric, which many of his supporters wholeheartedly believe, and verifiable facts.

My emphasis in bold.

Now, this is not about the merits and disadvantages of expanding coal mining. This is about the blasé arrogance of the Washington Post, suggesting to its readers that the creation of government regulatory jobs in any way makes up for the loss of manual jobs in coal mining.

How many ex-coal miners with high school-level educations will be eligible for these new regulatory jobs? Probably very few. But these jobs will enormously benefit the college-educated, Washington D.C.-dwelling professional class who are eligible for attractive jobs in the Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is difficult to know whether the Post’s dismissal of concerns about coal mining job losses because they will be “offset” by new regulatory jobs is merely ignorant or deliberately callous towards the working classes. But either way, it reveals a huge gulf between the perspective of the Washington Post and its readership on the one hand, and Trump-supporting people from coal country on the other.

Maybe those coal mining jobs should be killed anyway. Ultimately, of course, they certainly should be phased out as part of a move away from fossil fuel dependence. But for the Post to speak haughtily about Trump supporters’ aversion to “verifiable facts” while misleading its own readership by pretending that the Obama-era environmental regulations (whatever their core merits) were anything other than a transfer of wealth and opportunity away from coal country manual workers towards the DC professional class is morally dubious and a dereliction of their professional duty as a supposedly objective national news outlet.

Essentially, the Post is suggesting that Trump supporters are somehow being irrational to cheer the overturning of anti-coal regulations that will restore some coal mining jobs, because they should instead be rejoicing at the creation of other, office-based jobs for which they are almost certainly ineligible. How terribly unenlightened of them to not cheer as their small-town jobs are sacrificed to create other jobs for city-dwelling public sector bureaucrats.

Assuming the best of intentions rather than the worst, this represents a vast gulf of understanding between the Washington media class and a large segment of the country on which they report. The frequent complaint of Trump supporters is that their interests have long been ignored by a political and economic elite who have time and compassion for everyone and everything save the rural and suburban squeezed white lower middle and working classes, with politicians and the media colluding to keep their struggles, concerns and aspirations off the political agenda. And now the media, which seems to be relishing its oppositional role to President Trump, seems determined to live up to that stereotype.

Accusations that the mainstream media is “fake news” go too far – the Washington Post or New York Times will never publish a breathless story about Michelle Obama being arrested for treason or Hillary Clinton participating in witchcraft rituals, the kind of ludicrous and obviously false clickbait which pollutes the internet and is sadly shared by too many a credulous conservative. The mainstream media’s form of bias is subtler and much more insidious. There are few outright falsehoods in the prestige media, but one can often achieve just as much through deliberately one-sided story selection and a deliberately skewed angle of coverage, made all the more effective because unlike fake news sites, respected outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times actually influence the worldviews and opinions of key decision makers in Washington D.C. and beyond.

In other words, too many respectable, prestige mainstream media outlets have squandered any trust and goodwill they one held with the public by subtly but repeatedly pushing a political agenda (the largely bipartisan agenda of the DC political elite). This climate of distrust is a problem of the media’s own making. And it all begins with having newsrooms full of reporters and editors with so few (if any) roots in the kind of community which came out strongly for Donald Trump in the 2016 election that they are utterly incapable of reporting on them with any real understanding, subtlety or empathy.

If the goal is to avoid events like the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, surely our first step must be one of introspection – not furiously shouting insults at people who often voted for Trump through despair or resignation, not misrepresenting their political views to the point of slander, but rather understanding how the political mainstream managed to consistently fail these people so badly that they felt they were left with little alternative. The Washington Post, for all the good reporting they often do, is light years away from recognising this fact, let alone showing such introspection in their coverage.

Indeed, if anything, the American media is moving in the opposite direction. Spurred by President Trump’s reprehensible attacks on the media as a whole, the Washington press corps is doing what they love to do best – talking about themselves and wallowing in a sense of victimhood and persecution, laughably painting themselves as noble and selfless heroes and seekers of truth in this new authoritarian age.

I’m sorry, but that is nonsense. Many of these reporters are the same ones who in the 2000s used to leap smartly to their feet, offering obsequious respect and nary a searching question whenever president George W Bush strolled into the White House press briefing room to announce the erosion of core civil liberties, exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq and then downplay his administration’s calamitous handling of the war. This is the same press corps that often treated every utterance from President Obama as sacred, unquestionable unicorn song, hyping his candidacy and forgiving his administration’s missteps.

This is the same press corps which gathers every year for the White House Correspondents Dinner, in which journalists and politicians slap each other on the back and toady up to power in one of the most sickening modern day political rituals known to man. Oh yes, and they are the ratings whores who gave blanket, uncritical rolling news coverage of Donald Trump’s every garbled word back when he was still just a laughable Republican Party presidential primary candidate, acting as oxygen to the the flames of the Trump campaign in the first place.

A healthy democracy needs a free press. But it sure as hell doesn’t need the craven, self-satisfied press we are stuck with at the moment. You can probably count the number of Washington or New York-based political journalists with a record of consistently principled, inquisitive and objective work on two hands. None of them work in television news. The rest are every bit as much a part of the fetid, corrupt political class as the politicians on whom they report. And now they take the angry anti-media rantings of President Trump and use them as an excuse to prance around playing the noble, heroic victim. We should not fall for their tawdry act.

Increasingly, the presidency of Donald Trump will require us to hold two competing thoughts in our head simultaneously: that yes, the Trump administration is troubling in a whole host of ways, but also that many of the people opposing Trump (from the sanctimonious, rootless, unreformed Democrats to the lazy and morally compromised Washington media) are also grievously at fault. And the sins of Donald Trump do not excuse the failings of those forces ranged against him, just as the spineless, uncurious, self-aggrandising behaviour of the Washington media does not excuse the authoritarian, impulsive excesses of the new president.

It is sheer lunacy to believe that the forces which gave us President Trump will be placated and put back in their box by a coordinated campaign of opposition from a Democratic Party and Washington political media class who have spent precisely zero hours pondering their own role in this period of “American carnage”, and who have shown zero willingness to change their own behaviour and policy preferences. Indeed, as newspaper subscriptions and cable news show ratings rise in step with the turmoil emanating from the White House, many in the Washington media are probably deluding themselves into thinking that they are actually doing a good job.

This could not be further from the truth.

As things stand, both sides will continue to antagonise one another; an out-of-touch Washington media class will continue to report on the residents of Trumpland as though they are some kind of fascinating but dangerous medical specimen best kept behind the safety glass in a lab, and Trump supporters, feeling patronised and wilfully misunderstood, will continue to distrust everything that the mainstream media says (including the 90% which is reasonably accurate, if sometimes politically skewed).

One side will have to blink first. You would hope that it might be the DC chattering class – through some instinctive self-preservation reflex, if nothing else.

 

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