The New York Times grapples with whether to dump Trump
I have to admit to having a hate-love relationship with the New York Times. On the hate side, I find it pompous, dishonest, fiercely partisan, prejudiced, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-white, hysterical, and stupid. (I think that covers it.) On the love side, it's a useful window into the leftist mindset and it often makes me laugh. That was the case with the response from Kwame Anthony Appiah — "The Ethicist" — to a Democrat's question about maintaining contact with Trump-supporting friends.
The first thing to know about Appiah is that he's an academic who is incredibly pompous. I didn't need to read his Wikipedia bio to know that; it's apparent from his writing. The second thing to know is that, again according to Wikipedia, he's never held a productive job. Instead, he's worked only in academia and for leftist media outlets.
Appiah's job at the Ethicist does involve some old-fashioned "Dear Abby" topics, such as academic cheating on Zoom or introducing a child conceived through a sperm donor to half-siblings. Still, Appiah also exists to help anguished leftists navigate the dangerous shoals of wokeness, political correctness, identity politics, and critical race theory.
In October, he told a Jew who doesn't want to identify as just another Caucasian to suck it up, because Jews are white — lower-case "white," of course, as compared to upper-case "Black." In September, he told an anguished female, Asian television writer that it was probably all right for her to write black characters as long as she did her research. (And you wondered why TV is so deadly dull lately.) Dear Abby would have just slapped both of those letter writers around a bit and told them to stop worrying, treat other people with respect, and get on with life.
But back to Appiah: He began December by responding to someone who cannot imagine remaining friends with Trump-supporters. Mimi B. Osiason's letter is a truly magical example of the unity and civility that Biden has insisted upon after the Democrats' eight years of demonizing conservatives:
Am I morally bound to confront friends who support President Trump or to stop speaking to them? I find it untenable that anyone could support such a deficient person. He is xenophobic and a liar. He admires authoritarian rulers, lacks self-control and is an inciter of division in our country. He serves his own self-interest to the point of complete indifference to anyone, including his supporters, as his Covid-19 response and self-dealing clearly demonstrate. I cannot find tolerance for the "other side."
Appiah is magisterial. We're a democracy, he says, "guiding the ship of state together." Also, friends save friends "from making serious mistakes." Also, he urges little Mimi to remember that temperatures rise in politically polarized times. Indeed, Mimi, a principled woman, may err in assuming "that your Trump-loving friends are morally defective — that they don't take cruelty, xenophobia, intemperance, narcissism and dishonesty with due seriousness."
In other words, Appiah agrees that Trump is every bit as evil as Mimi does. It's just that, maybe, her friends aren't completely irredeemable. The problem, he says, is that her Trump-supporting friends aren't reading the New York Times the way all good-thinking people do. Instead, theirs is a dark world that includes "Fox News, Parler, talk radio, a voluble workplace colleague who has always seemed marvelous in the now, filtered Twitter feeds and the like."
Appiah assumes that, once Biden, the great and powerful, is in office, the temperature in America will relax. Then " we would discover that most of our fellow citizens are not irredeemably indifferent to Trump's evident vices; that whatever explains their attachment to the president, it is not that they repudiate the values he does not respect."
Appiah and little Mimi, as well as most of the Biden cohort, sound awful. They're judgmental, hate-filled, race-obsessed, cruel, intemperate, narcissistic, dishonest, tribal...oh, wait. They sound exactly the way they just described us. So really, the question shouldn't be whether Mimi wants to remain civil to her Trump-supporting friends. The real question is why in the world any decent person who recognizes that we live in a pluralist republican democracy would want to spend any time with a nasty, uptight, judgmental person like Mimi.
To be fair, I'm incredibly grateful to both Mimi and Appiah for giving me an insight into the hatred that characterizes them and for giving me a good laugh about the smug lack of insight that allows them to see themselves as people of decency and forgiveness.