Tag Archives: Trump voters

Ugly is as Ugly Does

image of eric alterman

A recent Facebook exchange brought to mind what always struck me as a significant etymological fact having to do with the German word for ugly.

That word is “hässlich,” an adjective derived from the verb “hasse” which is literally translated as to hate.

When we derive adjectives, an ambiguity is sometimes created in that the characteristics of the adjective can be projected onto either the implied subject or the object of the verb. This is apparent, for example, in the English adjectives “tolerant” and “tolerable.” The former designates an individual who is able to tolerate other individuals or situations while the latter refers to a person or thing able to be tolerated.In the case of hässlich, the adjective is generally understood as referring to the object, namely, a hated person or thing, more or less equivalent to the English word “hateful.”

But also possible is a translation of the adjective which attributes hateable characteristics to the subject. Those who reflexively hate are, by this definition, ugly. All this is directly relevant to a comment on my previous posting which weighed in in support of Eric Alterman’s despicable albeit impressively honest admission that he’s “totally cool with . . Trump voters los(ing) their health insurance, their clean air and water . . . Fuck their economic insecurity.”  Asserting her belief that “Eric is right” the commenter went on to note that we “couldn’t pay (her) enough to be concerned about their well being.”

That the commenter was a self-described revolutionary Marxist was one more data point supporting the conclusion that while professing much mutual contempt for each other, the neoliberal and radical left share common ground, among other things, in their contempt for those who voted for Donald Trump.

Another point of comparison has to do with affective style as much as substance. So suffused with hatred is this combined leftist element that they couldn’t stifle their id for a brief moment-parading the ugliness of their views for all to see. These were made more pronounced by the season when even the least charitable are expected to at least give lip service to the gospel sentiment of “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

While they are, of course, the last to recognize their own ugliness, anyone who has experienced their outbursts has a good visceral sense of it.

And those tendencies, I submit, have a lot to do with why we lose.

But ugliness in the sense in which it seems applicable here is, fortunately, not an inherent characteristic which we are powerless to fight against.

Rather it is a common behavior which we have the collective ability to control.Doing so would go a long way towards building the foundation on which we will need to wake up from the perpetual nightmare we will be living through for the foreseeable future.

Season’s Greetings, or The Gospel According to . . . Me(?)

You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize the old saw that the core sentiments of the gospels are revolutionary. That doesn’t mean you need to love your enemies. But if you can tolerate them, the next step is often, maybe even inevitably, to recognize that you almost always have much more in common with others in the 99% than with the 1% who have declared war against us.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the plutocratic class and those in the media who cash their checks want us at each others’ throats.  A good indication of how seriously the latter take their job was an Eric Alterman tweet from a couple of days ago: no peace on earth, goodwill towards Trump voters for him.  “Fuck their economic insecurity” thunders the distinguished CUNY Professor and media columnist for The Nation  from his Upper West Side classic six.  The holiday season finds him “totally cool with . .  . Trump voters los(ing) their health insurance, their clean air and water.”

Of course, all that’s to be expected from a neoliberal. What’s disconcerting is when those who claim to be “revolutionary” demonize those whom we should be, in Chomsky’s words, “educating” and “organizing.”  The decades of bipartisan attacks on unions, wages and the social safety net resulting in an unprecedented decline in life expectancy among the Trump demographic are invisible to a “left” addled by the “beauty” of physically assaulting unredeemable “deplorables”.

With that expression of the holiday spirit in mind, here’s a link to what I thought was the feel good story of the year having run in the Washington Post under the headline “a surprising viral level of understanding at a DC rally organized by Trump supporters.” Picketed by Black Lives Matter protesters, the unexpected result should not have been.  When those with functioning moral compasses find themselves on opposite sides they often realize that their first order of business is not to erect a barricade but to tear it down.  That having been metaphorically enacted, Black Lives Matter and Trump supporters found themselves jointly concluding that “’If we really want to make America great, we do it together.'” with the report going on to note that,  “the crowd cheered.”

“Afterward,” the story continues, “a few Trump supporters approached (BLM activist Hank Newsome) and expressed their appreciation for his speech, including a Bikers for Trump member, who asked if Newsome would pose for a photo with his grandson.

“Upon returning home to the Bronx, the 40-year-old said he received dozens of supportive messages on social media, several of which were from self-described conservatives.”


I’m not surprised that the story generated little discussion on my feed, which is, as is most of the left, polarized between neoliberal and radical left elements.  As mentioned above, both of them are united in their contempt for, for example, the majority of those who live in my town and who voted from Trump. Both seem to actively relish violent confrontations between “us” (which must mean me) and “them” (who are in some cases some of the finest people I know).

Could it be the the kind of unity which the Washington demonstration hinted at is exactly that which both privileged neoliberals and Nazi punching leftists fear the most?

Could it be that the future of our species requires us to embrace it learning, if not to love our neighbors, to at least tolerate them? Could it be that an opportunistic or pathological hatred of the 99% among both the neoliberal and the ‘radical’ left has a lot to do with our complete failure over recent decades-which is to say most of my adult life? Could it be that the future of the species depends on the left successfully treating what is, in fact, a kind of disease in its ranks?

I’ll come clean: my answer is yes.

And that’s why a lot of what has been posted on this blog has been written off by the official left as the ravings of a crank, as one of them referred to me a couple of weeks back.

We’ll know we’re making progress when we stop ignoring and begin celebrating opportunities to begin creating the fabric of solidarity which has always supported whatever gains the left has had over the years.

Hopefully, there will be more or them in the upcoming months.

Merry Christmas.