Palin for Trump: ‘Political Correctness’ (anti-racism) is a Suicide Bomb Vest

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The term “political correctness” has a long and varying history, but what do Donald Trump and Sarah Palin mean when they attack it? They are using it to mean anti-racism. A day after Martin Luther King Day, Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for president in Ames, Iowa, and actually compared being against racism to being a terrorist suicide bomber:

Palin said:

““Well, he being the only one who’s been willing, he’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issue until he brought ‘em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest. And enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated. And he brought them to the forefront. And that’s why we are where we are today with good discussion. A good, heated, and very competitive primary is where we are. And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment. Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. They need to get used to it.”

The phrase originated among American Communists, possibly as early as the 1940s and may initially have been a Jewish-American socialist critique of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Jewish-American Communists found that one a hard pill to swallow, but were told to toe the party line , and they said they refused to be “politically correct.”

But its contemporary resonances come out of the 1970s and 1980s, when liberals, feminists and New Leftists used it to make fun of doctrinaire positions of any sort.

In the past few decades, the phrase is thus a joke among liberals and leftists. (Geoffrey Hughes gives the example of The Village Voice, 1991: “I’ve been chided by a reader for using the word gringos and informed that European-American is politically correct.” The Village Voice author was being dismissive of his reader’s overly thin skin about language.)

The right wing use of the term is thus an attempt to impose on this ironic sense of the term, on this jokey dismissal, the old Stalinist sense of a demand for adherence to a party line, a doctrinaire conformity. Actually there likely isn’t anyone left who actually uses the term in that un-ironic way any more.

So what did Palin mean by “politically correct” being used by politicians as a sort of terrorism?

She meant that in normal American society it has become inappropriate to say racist things in public, about immigrants and minorities. And she is suggesting that anyone who orally reproaches Trump and Palin for this racism is exercising a form of terrorism.

We know that Trump’s attacks on political correctness have exactly this sense. When he was widely criticized for lumping most Mexican-Americans into the category of rapists and drug dealers, he replied, “”I have lost a lot during this Presidential run defending the people of the United States. I have always heard that it is very hard for a successful person to run for President. Macy’s, NBC, Serta and NASCAR have all taken the weak and very sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country. . .”

So frank racism is not only being rehabilitated by Trump and his acolytes like Palin, but Trump is associating it with patriotism.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar pointed out that when Megyn Kelly pressed Trump on his open disdain for his female critics, whom he has termed ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘animals,’ his two-fold response was to threaten her and then to say that he didn’t have time for political correctnesss.

The notion of “not having time for” respectful and ethical political language because the country is allegedly in the throes of an extreme crisis is classic fascism. Basic constitutional rights and even just common decency need to be jettisoned because we are in a hurry over this vague and never-specified menace.

Trump has made it clear that he thinks tolerance for the “Black Lives Matter” protesters on the part of the media and the Democratic Party is because of what he generally characterizes as political correctness (he said they are “catering” to it), implying that the protesters are being treated with kid gloves because they are African-American. When such a protester was beaten up at one his rallies, he allowed as how the man ought to have been treated that way because what he was doing was “disgusting.”

Trump stands for white, rich male privilege, for the right of rich white men to be dismissive of women, minorities and immigrants. He stands, like all fascists, for racial and social hierarchies. Some people are better than others. He even openly deployed the old WASP superiority against Ben Carson, pointing out that he is Presbyterian (“right down the middle”) but that Carson is a Seventh-Day Adventist. Carson is not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant in the old sense of a member of a white northeast elite family of Congregationalists or Presbyterians, but a wretched sectarian. The put-down of Adventism acted in this sense as a proxy for race.

The Civil Rights movement changed the terms of permitted political discourse in the United States. Even someone as powerful as Don Imus, who made and broke political careers in Washington DC, could be fired for publicly calling bright, accomplished African-American varsity basketball players “nappy-headed hoes.”

It even went to the extent that Americans agreed to elect an African-American president not once but twice.

Trump so disliked seeing African-American workers at his establishments that they were told to hide when he came for an inspection.

So if Trump is about a resurgence of supremacist white nationalism (which is correctly perceived by KKK, Neo-Nazis and others of his supporters slightly to the right of him), and if white nationalism is the true American patriotism, then obviously standing up for the civil rights and the social equality of minorities and women (characterized as a demand for “political correctness”) is a thwarting of the national racial will and so a form of terrorism.

Characterizing liberals and leftists as terrorists because they get in the way of the assertion of power by racial and economic elites was a typical tactic of Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini and other predecessors of Trump during the mass politics of the 1920s and 1930s. It is by now an old, tried and true path to power for the Right. It isn’t surprising to see it deployed by Palin and Trump.

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Related video:

CBSN: “Full video: Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump”

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22 Responses

  1. It’s really a clash of “political correctness” rule books. The liberals, and most Americans use the rule book that discourages ethnic insults and race bating. On the other hand Trump’s PC rule book (subtitled “pre-Iowa-caucus rules”) encourages those things.

    I remember living in the South during Jim Crow. PC for whites was to not question or criticize segregation. In fact it was PC to lament the end of slavery.

    I guess bringing in Palin is Trump’s attempt to put lipstick, rouge, and mascara on his swinish campaign.

  2. My mother who lived through WWII is astonished at the similarity in pose, posture and facial likeness that Trump has with Mussolini. I’d love to see a side-by-side comparison of photographs!

  3. Are Western democracies becoming over ripe? Not Democracy itself, of course, since that is an abstract concept and cannot even be defined, let along practised, to everyone’s satisfaction. Large swathes of the Western public now appear to function as thought police, sniffing around with their McCarthyist obsessions, which, due to the dark side of social media, often lead to, presumably cathartic, witch hunts. I had no knowledge of Don Imus until his fall which seemed to me to reveal a social phenomenon potentially far more dangerous, and closer to fascism, than his absurd remarks. The issue of what is the appropriate response to Trump/Palin is surely a good deal more important than the silly things they say. This is one of those issues where a too hasty determination may invite unintended consequences; who defines where the line lies in the grey middle?

    There was a recent debate in the UK Parliament arising from a public petition to ban Trump from entering the UK. This was not a debate that could have led directly to a ban but one where members express and explore their opinions, a time-honoured British parliamentary custom. If you have time, it’s worth dipping into because looked it reflects a serious and considered effort to explore broader aspects of a prickly issue.

    One random quote:

    I have heard of a number of cases in which people have been excluded for incitement or for hatred; I have never heard of someone being excluded for stupidity, and I am not sure that we should start now.

    Watch: link to parliamentlive.tv

    Read: link to hansard.digiminster.com

    • What happened with Trump and that Black Lives Matter protestor whose beating he egged on in Alabama is much more than silly talk. It’s the equivalent of a burning cross. The number of casual racists in America waiting for someone to organize them is beyond your imagination if you don’t live in a place like Texas. Minority Americans have a right to turn to civil war if White America tries to dehumanize them yet again. (1st time – after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676; 2nd time – after Reconstruction; 3rd time -ongoing since Reagan’s election.)

    • “This is one of those issues where a too hasty determination may invite unintended consequences; who defines where the line lies in the grey middle?”

      I don’t know where the line lies, but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t encompass the idea of banning immigration from an entire religious community, and doesn’t involve setting up a database to keep track of members of that community that are already in the country.

      That’s not just a silly to say, it’s a time worn precursor to atrocity.

  4. Three questions: Will the Palin sign-up knock some people off the fence towards or away from Trump? Did Palin owe Trump as he claimed Hillary owed him for her attendance at his wedding? Did the casting director for Trump’s television shows join his campaign with a mission to get bigger audiences?

    • People will go both ways because of this. But the people Trump loses, he can afford to lose because those won’t be in the key Christian Right states. The people he gains will be in the Midwest, South and Far West. In effect, he further extends the split he’s already created in the Christian Right instead of Cruz reuniting it. Palin is very popular over there. Maybe most of all in the states where Christian extremism is not as blatantly racially coded, meaning Iowa, Kansas, of course the Dakotas.

      She’s a mercenary. Both she and Ted’s dad Rafael spout the cartoonish heresies of the New Apostolic Reformation, like the talk of a “great transfer of wealth to the righteous.” The NAR got to her in Alaska, an entertaining story in itself. But she got on the celebrity gravy train and doesn’t seem to take orders from them anymore, so they’ve been looking for new host bodies to possess.

  5. Fingernails down a blackboard…listening to Sarah Palin. For years the Republican party has used such negative propoganda against the Democrats..and especially President Obama; that they have set this up. Mein Trumpf.
    They have no good candidates, so it was open for someone like Trump.
    He will never become President – not when he has offended 3/4 of the population.

  6. According to a report on MSNBC, an official who was in the campaign of George Wallace has said that Trump is basically using the same play book and using the same approach as George Wallace did. Early in his career Wallace lost a race to an extreme racist and he vowed he would never be out-ni**ered again. and he wasn’t. This is the heritage followed by Trump, Palin, and too many in the GOP these days.

    • Reagan catered to Jerry Falwell and his religious right in order to win the white house. Trump is using the Queen of Mediocrity to get in with the same evangelicals.

  7. ‘…And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment. Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. They need to get used to it.”…’

    You know, the sentiment here is real, it’s widely spread, and it’s valid to some extent.

    The rage may be misdirected, but it is there, and it isn’t going to go away because some argument is constructed that invalidates it.

    These considerations should be borne in mind. Ridiculing what I would call ‘the reactionary right’ is just going to make it stronger.

    • How do you know the people the reactionary right hates aren’t just as mad? It’s just that when we pick up guns we’re automatically branded radical terrorists. You saw what they did to Occupy.

  8. Good point. The left’s response to the Oregon militia has been particularly wanting, with the exception of Mother Jones’ article, ” The Oregon Militia is Picking the Wrong Beef With the Feds”. It explains that ranchers operate under razor-thin margins because the Feds have allowed giant meat-packing companies to dominate the US beef production chain.
    The left needs to show people that they have better solutions. Clever tweets aren’t going work.

    • But if the Feds “allowed” giant companies to dominate the production chain, then isn’t that what the Far Right wants? No interference in the infallible Free Market? How can these radical extremists worship property and laissez faire while expecting the Feds to shield them from the consequences?

      Answer: they’re a cult of inequality, and they’ve been indoctrinated that they can hide their White supremacism under the rubrics of libertarianism, because surely as the Master Race they will triumph in a truly free market.

      The capitalists put this lie out there, and the militia is the fringe of the vast number of whites who embraced it, along with the Tea Party, the Christian theocrats, the libertarians and the neo-Confederates. They are reaping what they sowed. And they WILL NOT listen to us explaining that to them, because we’ve been explaining it to them since they first started losing their jobs and raises and benefits under Reagan and they keep doubling down on more inequality. They will keep doing it until all the Blacks and Latinos are in chains picking cotton and all gays and Moslems are job-discriminated into starvation because that’s the only thing that will actually make them happy.

    • That is exactly it. It is just that proving that alternative solutions exist takes time and the reactionaries on all sides are deeply impatient-now if there is a way of making more people patient we just might find a way out of this mess!

  9. Prof. Cole, appreciated the 1940’s history of the term Political Correctness, but I remembered first hearing it around the time George Bush(father) came back from being Ambassador to China. It seemed to me to be a way of attacking colleges and universities for trying to set some standards about hate speech on campus. Weakening the intellectual base of this country has been seen as a way to strengthen conservative voices, and to me his use of the term brought echoes of China (and Taiwan, sharing similar history and cultural heritage) trying to make sure to keep under control the revolutionary spirit of colleges and college students. Thus the accusation of PC became a useful tool in the American culture wars against the intellectual class.

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