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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Friday, December 22, 2017

How @DemocracyNow's attempt to normalize Trump on Israel backfired

Today on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Rashid Kahalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University and author of “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East,” about US President Donald Trump's announcement that the US was moving its embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing that city as the capital of Israel. During the 2016 election year, Democracy Now focused most of its fire on the Democratic contender, and even promoted Donald Trump as "the Peace candidate" and even the lesser of two evils if warmongering is considered. Even now she attempts to downplay the right radical changes that Trump is instituting and continues to try to portray him as really no more dangerous than past presidents. Today she asked Khalidi to agree with her that Trump was really no different than Obama, and she further biased the question in Trump's favor by asking him to exclude the very different policy statements and just compare Trump's first year to Obama's eight. With all that. I don't think she got the answer she was looking for:
AMY GOODMAN: How different is what Trump did from what President Obama did? I didn’t say “said.” His rhetoric is very different. But even when he made this announcement, and then, with a flourish, showed this document he was signing to the cameras in front of him at the White House, people didn’t realize at the time he was signing the very waiver that Trump and—that Obama and Clinton had signed before a waiver that said they wouldn’t build the embassy in Jerusalem for at least another six months.

RASHID KHALIDI: You’re absolutely right. The difference is the action. The difference is—the embassy is not going to be moved for a while. But declaring that the United States supports the Israeli position on Jerusalem is of enormous material importance. It means that the United States has taken a stand on the most important issue. Jerusalem relates to sovereignty. Jerusalem relates to settlements. Jerusalem relates obviously to the holy places. And Jerusalem relates to borders. Even if you say this doesn’t prejudge borders, the Israelis have a definition of Jerusalem. You’ve just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Israelis are going to take this and run with it. So, it is of enormous importance. Other presidents have said—in fact, going back to Clinton, presidents have said, “We want to move the embassy,” or “We will move the embassy,” but they haven’t done it, and they haven’t accepted the Israeli position, as President Trump has just done.
So he is saying "you're absolutely right" if you think the difference between Trump and past US presidents  "is of enormous material importance," which she doesn't. Her argument is there is no material difference, so don't worry about Trump. This is how Amy Goodman and Democracy Now fought the Trump white supremacist power grab when it still could have been beaten at the polls without bloodshed.

The next DN segment showed this sign "How did we let hate win?" among the J20 protesters at Trump's Inauguration.

The hate that the sign is most likely referring to is the hatred of women and people of color that afflicts so many of Trump's followers. This was the right-wing racist and sexist hatred that Trump worked so hard to cultivate. But there was another hatred, a hatred on the Left that would prove to be indispensable to Trump's victory.That was the hatred felt by many white progressives for Trump's opponent, the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Many Jill Stein supporters hated Clinton more than they hated Trump, and wouldn't vote for Clinton even to keep a narcissist, mentally unstable dotard away from the nuclear button. That point has been well made, but that's not Left leadership, that's Left self-service.

To advance their view that the voters should refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils, those same forces downplayed the virulent white supremacy that had made a home in the Trump camp, while they prattled on and on about "THE EMAILS!!!"  As a result, Clinton lost not only those who voted for Stein but also the large number of people convinced not to vote at all by the Left meme that there was no real difference between the two contenders, and Trump really wasn't that bad after all, plus at least he's not a warmonger, plus he has no chance of winning, so feel free to vote your conscience even if you don't buy the first arguments.

The "don't choose the lesser of two evils" logic is a false one. Working people regularly choose the lesser of two evils - when they are lucky enough to have a choice. Say an unemployed worker is looking at two job offers. Then she considers herself lucky. Both are offers to exploit her labor for a profit, so both are inherently evil. so what does the worker do? Does she refuse to choose between two evil jobs and go hungry? No, she doesn't have that privilege.

Many progressives had the privilege of sitting out this election, either by not voting or voting for someone who couldn't possibly win, and allowing less progressive voters to decide who the next president is. I don't argue that they hadn't that right. I just think it represented bad political judgement, and treacherous political leadership. I hope they will forgive the vast majority of African Americans for not following it. We didn't have the privilege of ignoring the fact that one of the two contenders for the most powerful position on Earth hates black people. The Donald Trump presidency, and all it brings to power, represents an existential threat to us.

Beside, Jill Stein was far from the perfect candidate, and she was only capable of diverting enough progressive support to put Trump in the White House. The more exposure the got, the more votes she lost. Her poll numbers actually went down after she was on CNN! Electing what Greens consider the perfect politician won't fix a broken system. It will take a revolution to do that. Until then, strategic voting is the only kind of voting that makes sense. The idea that if we can just elect enough "good" candidates to the current system, everything will be hunky-dory is bankrupt. It will take a socialist revolution to set things right. Until then all voting in bourgois elections should be strategic.

Many Greens will argue Trump didn't win because they voted for Stein instead of Clinton, he won because ____fill in the blank. The reason this is a false argument is because it's like arguing which straw broke the camel's back. If the camel's back would have held with even one less straw, then the answer is that every straw was necessary to break the camel's back.

This data is from Politico [updated 22 Nov. 2016 - PA updated 2 Dec from http://www.electionreturns.pa.gov/ ] :

Candidate Count % Michigan [16] Wisconsin [10] Pennsylvania [20]
Donald Trump 61,201,031 47% 2,279,805 1,409,467 2,955,671
Hillary Clinton 62,523,126 48% 2,268,193 1,382,210 2,906,128
Difference 11,612 27,257 49,543
Jill Stein 802,119 0.7% 50,700 30,980 49,678

Trump lost the popular vote by millions and won the electoral college by less that 89K strategic votes. With a margin that thin, he couldn't afford to lose a single advantage and win. If Bernie had won the nomination, it would have been a different ball game. If Clinton had been a little better candidate, Trump would have lost. If the Democrats had run a more populist campaign, Trump would have lost. If Wikileaks hadn't released the Clinton emails, if Wikileaks had also released Trump emails. if Comey hadn't caused an 11th hour revitalization of the FBI Clinton probe, if Comey had also made public the FBI's Trump investigation, an so on. With Trump winning by margins thinner than the votes for Jill Stein in three states, it is clear that if you took away even one of the "straws" supporting Trump's victory, the world would be looking a bit brighter right now.

Anyway you slice it, it comes down to the same thing, in the US presidential election of 2016, an election of world historic importance, the margin of victory by the Trump cabal was so thin that the US Left, as small and weak as it is, actually held the balance of power in its hands, and it threw its weight behind a fascist victory. If the battle cry of the Left had been "all out to defeat the racist Trump cabal" instead of "Jill not Hill", we would have had plenty of time to develop our critique of the Clintons, and I'll wager there would be a mite less suffering along the way, especially for people of color. They will suffer the most with an open white supremacist in charge. Too bad the Left didn't say more about that before the election. Trump would not be president today without the aid of the so-called Left. People will know that for a long time. It is a big set back.

I fear we have only seen the bare beginning of Donald Trump's efforts to be the most racist US president ever, and to show us just how much greater an evil he really is. Just yesterday The Washington Post reported:
Sessions rescinds Justice Dept. letter asking courts to be wary of stiff fines and fees for poor defendants

By Matt Zapotosky
21 December 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era Justice Department letter that asked local courts across the country to be wary of slapping poor defendants with fines and fees to fill their jurisdictions’ coffers, part of a broad rollback of guidance that Sessions believes overreached.

It’s the latest move in Sessions’s effort to dramatically reshape the Justice Department by undoing many of the reforms imposed by his predecessors and giving the institution a harder edge. Sessions is revoking 25 previous guidance documents dating back decades and covering topics as diverse as ATF procedures and the Americans With Disabilities Act. More...
So now we'll see how this "refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils" thing works out for us in 2018. Time for us to get busy. Got to clean house first though.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya


  1. I think you're ignoring the amount of money and effort the right wing spent in swing states tearing down Clinton. You didn't see the ads they were subjected to in those states. You don't know that the Jill Stein voters weren't greens who vote along party lines. So quit blaming the the far left. The democratic party hacks never got behind Obama (distancing the party from him, which helped to lose the house when he was in power), put forward a poor candidate, and then blame anyone but themselves when voters sense they rigged the game.

  2. What you called the far left helped to put a racist president in the White House by proclaiming him the lesser evil and campaigning vigorously against his opponent.