By now you have probably heard that Trump supporter and Boston radio host Howie Carr introduced Trump at a rally in Bangor, Maine yesterday, and in the course of discussing Elizabeth Warren, he did this:
As you might have expected, this has drawn more than a little bit of public criticism for what is, pretty unquestionably, racist mockery. This is zero per cent different than if he had referred to Colin Powell and then broken into a crude mockery of ibonics out of nowhere, or if he had made fun of, say, Loretta Sanchez by imitating the voice of Speedy Gonzalez.
Now, since then, Carr has written a kind of rambling diatribe about the experience of being criticized for his all advised joke, and it is a tour de force of deflection, tu quoque and straw man destruction. And according to Carr, the impetus for standing strongly behind a gesture that is needlessly offensive to actual Native Americans, for no real reason at all, comes from Trump himself:
ABOARD TRUMP ONE – The candidate loosened his tie and offered me some advice.
“Whatever you do, don’t apologize,” he said. “You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back. Remember? He was doing okay ‘til he said he was sorry.”
Look, there is virtually no doubt that Elizabeth Warren is a liar about her supposed Native American heritage. There is no real question that attacking her on this ground is fair game and that mockery of her claim is appropriate. The conservative side of the Internet has been mocking Warren as “Fauxcahontas” (which the dim-witted Trump apparently can’t understand and has changed nonsensically to “Pocahontas”). The challenges to Warren’s almost-certainly-fake stories of Native American heritage have even made their way to CNN.
Nobody would criticize Carr or anyone else for making fun of Warren’s claims. It’s been done for years. That’s not what people are focusing on and it’s dishonest and disingenuous of Carr to pretend that it is. It’s the clownish war whoop – which is racist and offensive towards actual Native Americans, that is the problem. Let me draw a recent analogy for Carr’s benefit: the entire world, both white and black, made fun of Rachel Dolezal for pretending to be black. If Howie Carr had made fun of her by calling her a “fake n-word” or by doing a crude imitation of her that was laced with coonery, he would justifiably be in hot water.
The other “defense” that Carr offers for himself is that the media doesn’t criticize Democrats equally for their racist gaffes. This is without a doubt true but it does not make what Carr did okay or somehow not racist. Sure, Joe Biden has gotten away with making casually racist remarks for years. I’m not really sure why that makes it okay for people who are not Joe Biden to make casually racist remarks and not feel shame about it.
And this is part of the way the Trump campaign is poisoning America in the name of opposing “political correctness.” It’s now somehow considered an improper thing to do to say, “You know what, I screwed up,” when it comes to these sorts of things. You don’t have to bow to ridiculous pressure or accept the unfair treatment the media throws at Republicans – feel free to point out that they’ve let Biden and others slide for years. But that doesn’t mean you have to go on defending something improper that you’ve done, just because it’s what Trump would do.
The Trump campaign is basically a walking excuse for people to be as crappy to one another as they want, without care or apology. It is not making America a better place to live or improving the country as a place for all our children to grow up. Instead, it is actively encouraging life’s losers to respond to their station in life by acting like they are all the Kim Jong Un of their own personal domain, subject to correction by no one and nothing.
Maybe I am just a hopelessly naive person but I have always actually believed that it was important to not be an actually racist person, and that when one has done something that is racially offensive – even accidentally – one should at the very least apologize for having done so. No one is perfect, and we all constantly learn as we go throughout life about ways to improve our interactions with people who come from different cultures and backgrounds than we do. Fostering a culture in which apology for offense is an offense itself can lead to nothing good for America, and I hope Trump and his despicable minions fade in to the background sooner, rather than later.