I don’t feel that I have much useful to say directly about the upcoming inauguration. Indirectly, sure, and I do. But when I see something that simply strikes me as deeply, problematically illogical, I think commenting is appropriate. And I’ve seen, repeated many times, now, a meme I find impossible to believe sincere.
There were two things that put Trump out of the running for my vote from the get-go. One was that he had never held elected office, so I had no idea at all how he might function within one. I might have made an exception for a high-ranked military man. I do believe that there are intelligent reasons a person could disagree with me, and obviously many do, and did.
The other was his dogged, endless Birtherism. Why I consider this problematic is another essay. If you think an intelligent, emotionally balanced adult would think the idea plausible, that’s your business. I do not, and see no useful conversation to be had on the subject.
What I WILL address is the notion that people think that because one of the people in Hillary’s campaign floated the “Birther” notion first, there is some faint equivalence. Or even that “she started it.”
First of all, it is impossible to determine “who started it”, who first suggested that Obama was not a Citizen, that in fact he sat at the center of a vast, complex, and ultimately time-traveling conspiracy to defraud the American people. Conspiracy theories about any remarkable incident rise up like toadstools after the rain. Trying to figure out which sprouted first is a fool’s errand. And in the arena of black leaders, there has ALWAYS been a sort of person who wanted and needed to believe that any resistance, or movement, or leader with a brown face was actually a puppet for some white guy somewhere. I heard such things about MLK, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, and on and on and on. So it was 100% predictable that the same thing would happen with Obama. Who was first? Not a real issue.
If this was a positive thing, if Trump had made dozens (hundreds, probably) of statements about, say, Veterans Benefits, but Clinton never mentioned the issue, but some functionary downstream in her campaign floated the notion, would there be some equivalence between them? Would she deserve remotely as much credit? Of course not. The fact that she hadn’t said it herself would be a valid criticism: she didn’t consider it important or practical or useful or in alignment with her values, and it would be asinine for her or any of her supporters to claim that she was on Trump’s level on that issue.
Whether positive or negative, one Trump comment equals one Clinton comment.
One Comment from someone X removed from Clinton is equivalent to One Comment from someone X removed from Trump. Whether positive or negative.
The NUMBER of times you say it also factors in: If I say something X times, it is equivalent to you saying the same thing X times.
Context would matter: a private conversation as opposed to a television interview, for instance. Spontaneous statements as opposed to planned and carefully written speeches. And so on.
If you think the “Birther” thing was harmless nonsense, that’s your position. I take no pleasure from saying this, but if you considered it a grave and sobering concern, please don’t tell me. Just quietly unfriend me, because we will never see eye to eye on this, and I don’t enjoy thinking poorly of people.
But I cannot believe that an intelligent person really believes that what I say, personally, is in any way equivalent to what some employee or neighbor or relative of yours says. That you are as responsible, positively or negatively, as I am even if you didn’t say it and I did.
Please, just don’t defend this one around me. I consider it a political meme trying to justify something done to win an election. Smirk, laugh, pat each other on the back if you want, on your own time and in your own threads. But don’t try to tell me the situations are equivalent, because that is a bridge too far. I have little interest in politics, but a great deal of interest in the truth. The question “what is true?” is central here, and what is true is that I just don’t believe these things are equivalent, or that any intelligent and sane person really does. But that I do believe that politics twists people into saying and defending indefensible positions. One of the reasons I dislike the entire arena, and marvel at the people who manage to enter it without tarring their souls entirely.
In some contexts, bullshit helps roses grow. Whatever happens next in America, this is not that context.