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The Exhausted Epithets of the Left
George Neumayr
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Barack Obama’s signature phrase, “the audacity of hope,” came from a black nationalist, Jeremiah Wright. Obama stocked his administration with black nationalists, delivered speeches to openly separatist black colleges and associations, rolled out the red carpet for Al Sharpton, encouraged the reverse racism of “Black Lives Matter,” and rationalized the behavior of athletes who protested the American flag. None of this qualified as “ethno-nationalism” in the eyes of the media. They reserve that smear for conservatives who oppose hyphenated Americanism. Those who talk about race the least get hit with the charge of racism the most.

We’re told that Trump is surrounding himself with “bomb-throwers.” Like who? Bill Ayers? In Obama’s case, the charge was literal. He blurbed the book of a domestic terrorist and launched his political career in his living room. In Trump’s case, the charge is figurative, but the Left expects Americans to tremble even more.

Wright, at the height of his black nationalism, baptized Obama and officiated at his wedding. Obama sat in his pews as he defamed America. Yet a media that managed to ignore all of this endeavored to make Trump look like a regular attendee at Klan meetings. One would have thought from the frenzied coverage that David Duke had officiated at Trump’s wedding. In fact, Trump had no association with racists and earned the exhausted epithets of the Left for nothing more than opposing its open-borders ideology.

Now, having failed to stop Trump, the Left turns to a new smear campaign against his aides. In the wake of Hillary’s defeat, a few liberals questioned the tactic of describing half the country as “deplorables” and treating any disagreement with liberal ideology as evidence of “racism.” But those doubts didn’t last long. Trump’s selection of Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor has liberals gasping anew. They point to him as a singularly sinister “white nationalist,” whose Breitbart News Network reeks of racism. But in their hastily assembled “five worst things he has said” lists, one doesn’t find any racism. All one finds is robust disagreement with the assumptions of liberalism. So what?

The reeds on which they hang their charge of racism grow thinner and thinner. In the absence of any damning quotes from Bannon, they had to cast about for supposedly shocking headlines from Breitbart, such as “Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage.” But if you click on that article, it goes to a column in which the author rejects racism and celebrates the military valor of Robert E. Lee. That is the heritage to which the article refers. In the absence of any racist headlines, they sought to prove Bannon’s “racism” by checking “the reader comments” on Breitbart. The editorialists at the New York Times suggested that ludicrous standard.

And if that high evidentiary bar for racism doesn’t impress you, the Times had another one: what random racists, whom Bannon doesn’t know and whose praise he didn’t solicit, have said about him:

Or take a look at who’s rejoicing over Mr. Bannon’s selection. The white nationalist Richard Spencer said on Twitter that Mr. Bannon was in “the best possible position” to influence policy, since he would “not get lost in the weeds” of establishment Washington. The chairman of the American Nazi Party said the pick showed that Mr. Trump might be “for ‘real.’” David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, called the choice “excellent” and said Mr. Bannon was “basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going.”

At the same time, the Times tells us that Bannon is a “perplexing figure,” which is apparently its euphemism for saying: This person we have just been calling a racist is really just a conservative American with whom we disagree on bitterly contested political matters. The “perplexing” Bannon, it informs us, is a “far-right ideologue who made his millions investing in ‘Seinfeld.’” Why that is a baffling contradiction isn’t explained. Nor do they explain what makes him “far-right,” given that he just ran a winning campaign. CNN, pushing the same propaganda, ran a news scrawl that said Trump had made a “fringe” figure his chief strategist. Even in defeat, the Left feels entitled to tell Americans who is and who is not on the “fringe.”

The American people can be excused for seeing all of this as a show about nothing. The Left’s trivialization of the charge of racism only made it easier for Trump to win. Previous GOP candidates lived in dread fear of the media’s PC mau-mauing. Trump didn’t and ended up getting a higher percentage of the Black and Hispanic vote than Romney. While Hillary wrote off half the country as a basket of deplorables, Trump turned up in inner cities. Obama and other Hillary surrogates mocked him for his “Make America Great Again” slogan, but next to the “God damn America”-style multiculturalism of the Left, Trump’s simple nationalism looked less scary than sane.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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