Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. rejected the idea of trying to “understand” supporters of President Donald Trump because they are a bunch of white, Christian Americans alarmed by the loss of their “pre-eminence.” (“Do we really need to ‘understand’ Trump supporters?” as published in the Chicago Tribune.)
Pitts was responding to a reader who suggested in a “nice” email, “We need to not close ourselves off to how the other side thinks.” Nice idea, Pitts responded, but not in these troubled times because those Trump supporters are trying to destroy democracy. Saith Pitts, claiming “the high moral ground here”:
But these are not normal times. Indeed, sometimes, I wonder if we appreciate just how abnormal — how fraught with danger — they really are. Under Trump, American laws, news media and mores are under assault, to say nothing of American democracy itself.
Let’s examine what’s under attack:
American laws? Mr. Pitts, that’s what democracy is about. Laws are proposed, laws are passed, laws are challenged, amended or taken off the books. Pitts’ objection is to the laws that Trump supporters back or oppose. But that’s not an assault on democracy.
News media? Put aside the question of whether the media deserve to be assaulted for their left-wing tendencies. I’ve been in the media for decades, but I don’t share Pitts’ sanctification of the media as an institution beyond criticism or even assault. The press has First Amendment protection, but that doesn’t mean that it is beyond the reach of criticism, even the nastiest kind. Feeling assaulted, Mr. Pitts? Brace up.
Mores? Whose? Self-styled progressives have long and relentlessly attacked traditional mores. They include the importance of fatherhood, traditional marriage and sexual abstinence. And the sanctity of life. Who is it that’s pushing for the legalization of the “recreational” use of pot, ignoring the scientific research about its hazards? I could go on, but suffice to say, again, it’s a matter of the eye of the beholder, and Pitts’ eyes are clouded.
American democracy itself? This could be laughable if it weren’t so self-delusional. As one example, let’s check out how “progressives” are trying to snuff out free speech–an essential ingredient of democracy–on college campuses. Conservative, free speech that is. Free speech zones, trigger warnings and other hard left weapons are camouflaged as devices to protect free speech, but in reality are tools of the increasingly autocratic left to demonized and suppress speech they don’t agree with. In their ignorance (and to the disgrace of the left-wing faculty that dominates the campus) they try to legally suppress speech that hurts their feelings. Think I’m exaggerating? Too many college students, polls show, mistakenly believe that “hate” speech (as they define it) is not protected by the First Amendment. That you can punish students, including suspending them, for speech the left doesn’t like. That’s even though the Supreme Court has unanimously said that the First Amendment protects hate speech. Sadly, these tragic misunderstanding are oozing into the mainstream and justified by a host of “progressive” voices. (I put quotes around “progressives” because they are anything but, advocating as they are for an autocratic, massive government.)
I didn’t vote for Trump and I’ve said nasty things about him. But I know people who have and do support him; they no way fit Pitts’ bigoted and ignorant “understanding” of who they are. Some, in their youth, fought for racial equality and voted Democrat. They are not racists or the “deplorables” as Hillary Clinton described them. They are decent people who care for their friends. They do good works.
Sadly, the Democrat Party no longer is the party they supported. It has rejected the democratic value of listening respectfully and with an open mind to the opposition, as Pitts has so aptly demonstrated. It seeks to limit open, even raucous debate, of the kind that the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created a Constitution that featured separation of powers and individual rights.
So, yes, Pitts is deplorable. He has lost sight of what a true democracy is and for his ignorant dehumanizing of people he, in his arrogance, thinks he understands, but doesn’t.