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To understand white people is to forgive them: The never-ending story

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The NYT ran yet another in-depth piece of reporting yesterday, on all the “peaceful” marchers back on January 6, 2021, who represent a mass movement that goes far beyond the “violent core” of the mob that breached the Capitol on that day, in an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.

Eric Boehlert has thoughts:

Portraying the deadly coup attempt as a spiritual rebirth for right-wing activists, one that “has given them new purpose” and a sense of “community,” the Times’ front-page piece detailed how insurrection participants had returned home renewed and committed to the Trump cause — how the attack on the Capitol “became a galvanizing new beginning.”

What was missing from the article was context. The Times did not reach out to a single Democrat for a quote, or any experts in the rise of authoritarianism in the U.S., [this isn’t quite fair; Robert Pape is quoted in the piece] or even any Republicans who don’t view an insurrection as the crowning achievement of the conservative movement. As with so many loving profiles of Trump voters over the years, no dissenting voices were allowed.

The Times piece never tried to explain what the news value of the exercise was. The media’s firm fixation on Trump voters isn’t normal — the idea that our politics needs to concern itself with the feelings of voters who supported the presidential loser has no basis in how the press traditionally views the election season.

It’s all part of the paper’s steadfast commitment to normalizing Trump and the dangerous movement he leads — the paper’s hallmark devotion to constantly elevating white, middle-class voters from red states and portraying them as the most important political voices in America.

“Here’s the bottom line: When America elected a neo-fascist president in 2016, the New York Times didn’t ask, how can we save democracy?” tweeted Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer, after reading the Sunday puff piece. “It asked, why didn’t we listen more to the enablers? And it’s never stopped since.”

The Times remains so institutionally committed to publishing updates about Trump Voters, while whitewashing the danger they pose to this country, that the paper can no longer recognize the absurdities of the premises they use. It would be like publishing a fawning profile of Neo-Nazis who traveled to Charlottesville in 2017. Remember the Times’ misguided profile of a Trump-supporting Nazi from Ohio? (Nazis are people too!)

The Times stressed that the people profiled in the Sunday article, the ones who came home from the riot and became even more impassioned about the Big Lie, weren’t insurrectionists, they were merely “marchers” — they “never breached the Capitol,” which somehow is supposed to make their actions less objectionable, and therefore make them more sympathetic in the hands of Times reporters. They “simply went home” after the day’s rally, the paper reported.  

But the “marchers” angle represents a pointless distinction. None of the people quoted in the piece say they stayed out of the Jan. 6 violence because they thought it was wrong; none of them made a conscience decision in real time to not try to stop a legal election from being certified. Maybe they didn’t breach the Capitol only because the crowd outside was too large for them to get inside.

I know it’s not “politically correct” to ask this, but where are the leaders of the white community, who should be condemning the evident pathologies in white culture in America, which in turn require outlets like the Times to manufacture endless excuses for that culture?

When will Donald Trump have his Sister Souljah moment, and condemn the violence and chaos that characterizes the white community? Yes I realize these are generalizations, and that not all white people are like this, but we do white people no favors by infantilizing them, or, to coin a phrase, by defining deviancy down.

You can call this racism, or you can call it race realism.

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