Monday, September 11, 2017

More commentary on "The First White President"

My post yesterday, Our most dangerous president considered in racial context: America’s embrace of The Whiteness of Being, contained excerpts from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic, The First White President.

Coates charged that the narrative about Trump’s win coming from working class whites was at best too narrow. Indeed, he presented evidence that a very broad swath of the white electorate voted for Trump with the result that Trump won in just about every demographic group – that is, when you just consider the white voters. There’s no argument with the evidence. But Coates went further.

Coates’ other claim concerned the inability of pundits (now meaning all who think and write about Trump) to name whiteness and confront white supremacy. Here are quotes from two additional essays.

[Greg Sargent writes:] … pundits trafficking in this narrative aren’t simply wrongheaded; they did so because they, too, were, and remain, caught up in white tribalism. This is impeding a reckoning with what Trump’s rise says about racism’s continued centrality to American political life. As Coates puts it, “those charged with analyzing him cannot name his essential nature, because they too are implicated in it.”

[Josh Marshall writes:] … Since Coates is able to assemble a broad assortment of statistical, public opinion and historical data pointing to race as the central and overriding force behind Trumpism, he further argues that the focus on economic hardship of the white working class is a form of denial, an unwillingness to grapple with the centrality of race in American politics and the catastrophic damage (in the form of Trump’s election as just the most recent and cataclysmic example) of white supremacy and white backlash.

Answering the first one above, Greg Sargent takes issue in Whose white president? In response to the second, Josh Marshall offers Thoughts on The First White President and thinks Coates is not granting enough credit to voices of the resistance. (“… I could not read it without thinking there are a lot of voices – hardly little heard or without megaphones – he’s simply not hearing.”)

Marshall concludes: “In any case, Coates’ piece is a great essay that brings together a wealth of data and characteristically penetrating analysis. I recommend it highly.”

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