Scott Alexander, the pseudonymous psychiatrist who writes the Slate Star Codex blog, has won the Internet for the week with his long, magnificently well researched post telling the anti-Trump left to quit scaring people with their ridiculous propaganda. Alexander is not a Trump supporter, so why does he feel so strongly about this? This is why:
Why am I harping on this?
I am a psychiatrist. So far I have had two patients express Trump-related suicidal ideation. One of them ended up in the emergency room, although luckily both of them are now safe and well. I have heard secondhand of several more.
… Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.
I am not going to quote Alexander’s blog post at length, because if I got started, it would be hard to stop. What he does is go through most of the allegations against Trump (e.g., that he’s anti-Semitic, that he’s a white supremacist fellow traveler, that he hates gays, etc.), and demolishes them with factual analysis. He really does. I learned a lot of things I did not know about Trump. And again: Alexander is not a Trump supporter. One of his points is that the left, especially in the media, have focused on trivial stuff (the kind of stuff that freaks out a relatively small sliver of lefties, actually) and let the big things go. Alexander:
Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes. In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again. When a guy who says outright that he won’t respect elections unless he wins them does, somehow, win an election, the headlines are how he once said he didn’t like globalists which means he must be anti-Semitic.
Stop attempting suicide. Stop telling people they’re going to be killed. Stop terrifying children. Stop giving racism free advertising. Stop trying to convince Americans that all the other Americans hate them. Stop. Stop. Stop.
Earlier in the post, he touches on one of my favorite themes:
Stop turning everything into identity politics. The only thing the media has been able to do for the last five years is shout “IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS!” at everything, and then when the right wing finally says “Um, i…den-tity….poli-tics?” you freak out and figure that the only way they could have possibly learned that phrase is from the KKK. Y’know, a week before Election Day, Lena Dunham, featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention this year, produced and tweeted a video called How Are You Feeling About The Extinction Of White Men? which featured giant feet stepping on cartoon white males in a very-definitely-endorsed-by-the-author way. I am sure you are very well-educated and understand that this is a completely harmless letting-off of steam with no racial overtones; whereas when a Republican says he opposes the corrupt establishment, this is an anti-Semitic dog whistle which proves that his entire life philosophy is based on nothing but hatred and bigotry. But I worry that the non-college-degree-having white working class is not as well-educated as you, and is too ignorant to grasp this simple and obvious point. And maybe they start thinking of America’s ongoing tribal/partisan conflict through a race-based lens, which is surely an unpredictable testament to their own bad character and not the exact thing you’ve been encouraging every second of every day since the turn of the millennium.
Read the whole thing, then let’s come back here and discuss it.