Whatever becomes of President Donald Trump’s in-office legacy will take decades to truly know. Societally, however, there is no denying that there are reams of anecdotal evidence that he has already substantially altered the behavior of our society.
Many of the things Trump is “credited,” with causing, fueling, or influencing have already been bandied about since the day he took office, most of them negative:
- He’s accused of making it “safe” to be racist:Racism and bigotry were around long before Trump, and will be here long afterwards. The claim that he’s allowed racists to come out of their shells is based in the brazen manner in which Trump talks about refugees, immigrants, and s*!thole countries. What I find ironic is that little of what Trump has said and done while in office has been, in my opinion, racist. People from questionable countries like Syria DO need to be deeply vetted before being allowed in America. Migrant caravans CAN’T simply be allowed to waltz into our nation un impugned. The fact that people from those countries tend to be brown is irrelevant. Prior to becoming president, however, Trump’s history of racism is long and irrefutable. It is possible, that the way Trump speaks makes some people feel more emboldened to speak their mind…in fact, that’s the very premise I’ll be basing my case on later in this piece. However, he didn’t make anyone a racist. People don’t listen to Trump and decide to become hateful. Hateful people may listen to him and feel compelled to speak their mind more, but that’s on them, not him. https://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12270880/donald-trump-racism-history
- He’s accused of trying to suppress the #metoomovement and encouraging men to grab women:This, again, is specious at best. No man who had never considered groping a woman hears or sees Trump and is suddenly struck with the desire to do so. During the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump rightfully questioned “believing all victims,” pointing out that we are all supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty.” There’s a stark difference between saying that being a celebrity allows you to “grab a woman by their pu$&y,” prior to being president, and defending due process.
- He’s accused of making facts irrelevant: Whether it be “fake news,” or “alternative facts,” this administration has a very questionable relationship with the truth. So did Obama, Bush, Clinton, the other Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, JFK, and about 30 other American presidents. Trump is not making us incapable of finding, demanding, and accepting the truth, we are. Our need to be right, not correct, fueled by social media, is what’s made America a fact-less nation.
- He’s accused of making America hate the media: I cringe every time Trump refers to the media as “the enemy of people,” since that is quite literally the language of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. It’s simply something that should never be said. However, this is the accusation that makes me laugh the loudest. The American people have neither trusted nor liked the media for decades. Prior to Trump’s election, the approval rating of the American media was at an all-time low, and had been consistently dropping by precipitous margins since the mid 1990’s. Saying Trump made America hate the media is like saying it’s Trump’s fault that American’s don’t like getting the flu. https://news.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx
With all of that said, there is another interesting growing phenomenon in American culture that may be a tertiary result of Trump and his behavior and words. While I argued earlier that trump didn’t turn people racist, but may be emboldening them to be more vocal, I also argue that it is possible that Trump’s brazen approach to everything is providing, if not motivation, a template, for those who wish to stand their ground and no longer cave to the vocal minority or political correctness.
Though he’d never admit it, Kevin Hart has followed Trump’s playbook twice in the last month, by telling people accusing Hart of being insensitive or homophobic to essentially, get over it. After being named host of the Oscars, years-old Tweets were blasted for all to see in which, amongst other examples, Hart extrapolated lines from one of his stand-up routines about calling his son’s choice to play with doll houses “gay.” Hart’s response was one of demanding that we all use our energy for positive things and insisting that “what is understood need not be said.” That wasn’t good enough, so he was asked to step down and he did, without ever apologizing directly for his words of the past.
On the heels of that, a man who has been defying political correctness since long before Trump was president, pounced. Rick Gervais issued a Tweet that was so perfectly vile and poignant it has to be seen to enjoy: https://twitter.com/rickygervais/status/1070984424714629120
Comedian Joe Rogan has mastered the art of being politically incorrect while explaining, as he’s doing it, how he’s pandering to get away with it. It’s truly brilliant.
And much to the chagrin of a very small, but very loud group of hand-wringers, comedian Louis C.K. continues his comeback after admitting to fondling himself while insisting females watch him. While C’K’s past behavior is somewhere between inappropriate and grotesque to many, as he slowly starts making pop-up appearances at famous New York comedy clubs, he is being met with roaring crowds and accolades. Except, of course, from the career-ruining activists who insist that despite the audience wanting to see him, they shouldn’t be allowed.
In one article decrying C.K’s return to the stage, a female comedian wrote: “…Even more wretched is the fact that C.K. is purported to have been received rather warmly, and got an ovation before starting his set. To me, that’s proof that C.K. truly doesn’t give a sh&t about what he’s done wrong…” NO, that’s proof that the paying customers wanted to see him and greatly enjoyed his performance. That’s what she’s angry about. (well, that and everything else about her life, but I digress). https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwknm4/standup-comedians-explain-why-louis-cks-return-was-so-infuriating
If President Trump has, in effect, encouraged people to stand against the wave of “shoot first, ask questions never,” crowd, that is a positive development. All of this is truly to be decided years down the road, but more speech is never a bad thing. I’d prefer my racists to be loud so that I know who they are and can act accordingly. I want the accused to speak up, not only because it is their right, but because the more they speak, the more we see and can reach conclusions of their guilt orinnocence, or right to forgiveness. If more of this has anything to do with Trump, then America is better for it. At some point, we’ll realize that we’re the problem, not him.