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Simplification Engenders Division

Sam Taylor

Posted on January 20, 2021 00:34

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In light of recent events, generally hostility to Trump-supporters is greater than it’s ever been. But this hostility is motivating simplification — which only makes matters worse.

In the wake of Trumpian discord and a capitol siege, much of the media has been quick to validate its deprecation of right-wing factions. This is especially evident in "France Knows How This Ends," an article written by historian James Mcauley. Therein, Mcauley compares the strife of contemporary America to the polarization surrounding France's Third Republic, particularly the Dreyfus affair: the wrongful imprisonment of a Jewish officer, Alfred Dreyfus, on the basis of fabricated evidence. During that time, riotous right-wingers were deluded by anti-semitism into supporting populist agendas, swapping reality for political fancy. 

There's no question that some qualities of the Dreyfus affair mirror the modern U.S. Many conservative provocateurs blindly accept conspiracy theories and display undue dogmatism. However, Mcauley's comparison simplifies the issue — and in doing so, it engenders the same division it criticizes. 

The presence of asinine agitators has given a negative connotation to the term 'Trump-supporter': often used with the same vehement disgust as 'neo-nazi.' But the image of a buffalo-wearing insurrectionist, or even a passive conspiracy theorist, is hardly representative of most Trump-supporters. Frequently, these "nazi equivalents" oppose Trump's divisive rhetoric while agreeing with his policies and explicit platform. Such moderate conservatives abhor the recent attack on the capitol, and acknowledge the role Trump's careless comments had in inciting it, but nonetheless favor his executive actions to Biden's proposals and the broader positions of Democrats. 

But the conflicted sentiments of these Trump-supporters are overlooked by writers like Mcauley, who construe the label as a blatant badge of populist bigotry. They consistently depict Trump-supporters as a raging mob of beguiled fascists — antonyms to the purportedly peaceful assemblies of left-wing protestors — with a number of (often unmentioned) Republican moderates here and there. In turn, this sweeping generalization fuels societal animosity: liberal and moderate voters conceive of 'the other side' as a vicious throng of anti-semetic lunatics, or else a subset of hoodwinked idiots. 

Of course, many journalists are right to execrate Donald Trump's inflaming commentary, and the atrocities committed by some of his supporters. But the way journalists condemn such acts with simplification, fact-omission, and unrestrained ridicule is unnecessary, divisive, and vile. Instead of grouping Trump-supporters into a single category of ardent seditionaries, those who profess to be supporters of truth should describe the complexity of the situation; in an effort to stabilize the country, they should suppress their desire to vilify political opposition and actively note the varied opinions held by Trump-supporters.

Sam Taylor

Posted on January 20, 2021 00:34

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https://www.nationalreview.com/news/wapo-allows-activists-to-misrepresent-capitol-riots-to-make-racial-political-points/...

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