Friday, March 16, 2018

This passes for ethical analysis?

Reihan Salam, the executive editor of the old line conservative magazine National Review, writing at the Atlantic, is distressed about remarks Hillary Clinton (remember her?) made in Mumbai this week:

“I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his [Trump's] whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards.”

Salam is not the only one; the rightwing echo chamber (Fox News, Breitbart, etc.) seems to agree with him that Clinton has somehow in these words made a "moral" critique" of those who didn't vote for her.

Dude -- she's just stating facts. The only adjective here that might be construed as having a "moral" content is "optimistic". If you think optimism (or pessimism) constitutes innate character, just maybe there's some sense in this. I don't think that way nor I expect do most people. I think of either quality as mostly a responses to real surrounding conditions, usually a fairly accurate reading.

I asked E.P., my resident local ethicist, what she thinks is going on in this sentence. She suspects that Clinton's rightwing hearers believe that somehow she's accused them of being racists. I guess they may be hearing Clinton that way, though it seems absent from these words, only present in their prickly (guilty?) psyches.

Salam goes on to draw a picture of a country with two parallel societies, Clinton's "Trickle Down America" and Trump's "Stagnant America." He indicts prosperous cities with being run for the benefit of ripoff capitalists (true), while exploiting low wage workers, often people of color and/or undocumented immigrants (true). He then has the decency to point out that the policies Clinton campaigned on would have moderated these ills.

He doesn't describe how he thinks "Stagnant America" is doing. Not so well, judging by his own label. Hopelessness and poverty aren't usually good for people. Clinton's policies might have done some good there too, though he neglects to mention this.

I grew up in "Stagnant America" even before the label "Rust Belt" had begun to be applied to aging industrial centers. The downward trajectory could be felt even when steel and auto were still huge. Salam is right; when economies pass their peak and contract, the folks who live amidst the dislocation and pain get hurt. How about we try to help them, rather than exploit their pain to mobilize resentment?

In case you are wondering, the photo is of Chicago from Evanston.

3 comments:

Rain Trueax said...

Actually stagnant America is just as likely to be parts of California. She acted as though the whole country was the coastlines where she did win (Oregon isn't doing so great on jobs btw and voted for her). She insulted a lot of people with her implying women are told how to vote by white husbands. She also said, "You didn't like black people getting rights, you don't like women, you know, getting jobs." Then she threw in something for the people where she was--"You don't want, you know, see that Indian American succeeding more than you are."

The irony on that one is Trump appointed Haley our Ambassador to the UN. She was born here but to an Indian American Sikh family. I also have read he actually wanted her as Secretary of State first but she declined feeling she wasn't up to the job. Too bad as she seems to do well at the UN. I know plenty from India in the corporate world who are doing quite well.

But then, that's Hillary for you. I hope dems don't suddenly start defending her because of who attacks her. She's her own worst enemy and I don't remotely believe she'd have been a good president given her own personality flaws-- something she has in common with Trump. They are both their own worse enemies. Hopefully the dems can do better but with any defense of the Clintons I tend to doubt it. She has proven every doubt any of us had, who voted for her anyway, in how she has conducted herself since her loss. It was said she was a bitter, nasty woman and although she has tried to turn nasty into a virtue, it will only do us more damage as a people if that succeeds.

Brandon said...

Speaking of Buffalo, you might find interesting this interview in The Buffalo News of O.J. Simpson. He discusses Trump, Kaepernick, etc.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Brandon: you do come up with amazing stuff. I had already left Buffalo by the OJ years, but always have warm spot for the team and for the city.

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