As the Trump campaign steadily sinks deeper into the swamp of racism, misogyny, and anti-semitism, there are a couple of phrases I hear over and over, in multiple variations, and it just needs to stop.
“We didn’t know he was this bad”. I usually hear this one from Republicans. It’s a lie. We’ve all known that he was a colossal boor since at least the 1990s, and he hasn’t gotten worse — this is the same jerk we’ve known for about 30 years. There is absolutely no surprise in his behavior or his record, but people have just always looked the other way. You probably know assholes like this right now, and we’ve always just rolled our eyes, shaken our head, and walked away.
“And now he’s running for President of the United States,” usually said by Democrats with a note of horror. The high office he is running for should not make the slightest difference. Would this be acceptable if he were merely a real estate tycoon, or a ditch digger? Is there some kind of invisible class line such that if you’re below it, it’s expected that you will call women pigs, but once you’re above it, only then does it become rude?
What prompts my irritation is that a friend of mine, a woman, a feminist, and a prominent atheist, has been receiving a flood of hateful comments on facebook that aren’t really that different from what Trump says. We all take this for granted as the normal state of affairs. But I have to wonder…these petty vulgarians have friends — I should say enablers — who retain their associations with them even as they call women “ugly”, “fat”, and “pieces of shit”. They are not shunned. They have their own little communities of hatred. They thrive. They get healthy sums of money from their patreon accounts. They have turned the atheist movement into an embarrassing crap heap.
What I’m learning from Trump is that we can’t expect to see them condemned until a) they’ve been at it for 30 years, or b) they decide to run for president. And until then, the only people we’re going to scorn are the ones who dare to call them out before either of those eventualities are reached.