Monday, December 21, 2015

The company you keep may not be good for you

The New York Times piece is, "Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends".

The issue isn't that he calls them his friends: it's that they call him theirs.

[Mike] Tyson, who is Muslim, recently defended Mr. Trump, telling the website TMZ, “Hey listen, anybody that was ever president of the United States offended some group of people.”
Tyson's remarks aren't the only eyebrow-raising ones in this piece, but they're illustrative of the problem all of Trump's friends are facing, whatever their color or creed.

Apparently Teh Donald inspires a certain amount of personal loyalty. I won't presume to dispute that: I don't know the man except by his public statements. Most of us probably define our true friends as those who stick by us in times of trouble, and that's an admirable trait — to a point.

At some point, though, you have to step back and look at your friend and the trouble he's causing.

It might have escaped your notice, Friends of Teh Donald, but your friend has gone beyond offending people. He's stirring up hatred of The Other, especially if The Other has brown or black skin. His "offensive" remarks haven't been one-offs: they've been part of a calculated strategy to gin up votes among bigoted white people. You don't have to take my word for it, either: Al Sharpton cuts right to the heart of the problem.

... Mr. Sharpton said he did not know whether Mr. Trump was racist, and added, “I don’t think it matters.”

“What he’s saying appeals to racists,” Mr. Sharpton said. “He’s too smart to not know what he’s doing.”

You Friends of Teh Donald aren't trying to excuse a drinking problem or some other merely self-destructive trait, you're trying to excuse hate-mongering.

From this stranger-to-Teh-Donald's perspective, you Friends of Teh Donald have been nothing more than props in his ego fantasy. He likes to treat you well because you lend him lustre and social cachet: "Look at all these important and famous people who love me!"

But say I'm wrong. Say he has been a genuine and good friend to you. You still have to confront the fact that he's fostering xenophobia — fear and hatred of The Other. Is that what you want? The longer you stick by him, the more we're going to think it is.

It's not all about race or religion, either. Ultimately your friend doesn't give a shit except for wealthy people. Don King, that prince of opportunists, knows this well.

“What matters to Trump is success,” Mr. King, 84, said in a phone interview, recalling fondly how their friendship grew from ringside encounters at boxing matches in Atlantic City. “If you are achieving success, you meet the test.”
Let's be clear: by "success" both Teh Donald and King mean wealth and fame. They don't hang out with "successful" small-business owners or "successful" philosophers.

So, Friends of Teh Donald, is it all about that kind of success for you, too? Do you genuinely not give a shit about anyone but people who have been "successful" by those lights? If so, go ahead, stand by your man.

But if you care about less-successful people too (or, heaven forbid, even unsuccessful ones), or if "success" means more to you than wealth and fame, you need to look long and hard at what your friend is saying, and what his words are doing to the country.

Sometimes being a friend means doing the hard thing, confronting him when he's lashing out and causing mayhem. Sometimes it even means ending the friendship.

Your friend has made his choice, and it ain't pretty.

Your turn.

No comments:

Post a Comment