Intolerance is not a four-letter word
Out of national indignation, we are establishing a hierarchy of human worth. Based on our collective reaction to Donald Trump’s remarks about women recorded a decade ago and released late last week, we can safely say that white women rate higher than either Mexicans or Muslims.
The needle budged a week earlier when we learned Trump had disparaged a former Miss Universe who happened to be Hispanic, but it was nothing like the uproar over what he said about a white, married woman and another who greeted his bus outside the set of a soap opera that he was appearing on. Hispanic women rate higher than Hispanic men, but they are still below white women.
It can’t be ignored that the woman on the soap opera set is young and attractive as was the Miss Universe contest winner. Rosie O’Donnell is famous for other reasons, so I suppose it isn’t surprising that his degrading remarks about her don’t matter as much. She also has a salty personality, and few women deserve respect for that. Megyn Kelly is not afraid to say what she thinks, too, so that explains the tepid bit of outrage she garnered after Trump tried to humiliate her about blood coming out of her body here and there.
We know that people with physical limitations are not near the top of the human pyramid. When Trump mocked a reporter with physical disabilities by making a caricature of his speech and movements we raised an uproar for a few hours but forgot the ugly taunt almost as quickly as Trump did. It’s as if our group-think concluded that placards for close-in parking and wheelchair ramps are compensation enough for difficulties we did not cause.
African-Americans used to be the gauge for American racism, but Trump hasn’t made many public comments about black people, so we don’t know how upset we would be about that. David Duke, a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, has said that Donald Trump stands for everything Duke has fought for over his entire career as a racist, and Trump didn’t distance himself from Duke or his statement, but, since Trump didn’t actually use the N-word, we didn’t dare connect the dots and chose to infer nothing from Duke’s endorsement.
It’s kind of the same with Jewish people. Trump Tweeted a graphic image of Hilary Clinton’s face on a Star of David background along with references to money and corruption, the entire collage which was later posted on a white-supremacist website, but, you know, that’s just a lot of circumstantial evidence and, so, you know, who can really blame Trump for defending it rather than denouncing it or, more ridiculously, expect him to apologize for the misunderstanding.
So, there are a lot of unanswered questions about where the races, sexes and religions shake out in the United States’ pecking order. Obviously Donald Trump must assume some responsibility for this. He is an excellent racist, misogynist and xenophobe, but he also is running for the highest elected office in our country and has chosen to temper his remarks. Unfortunately that has left us with a lot of semi-subtle hatred, sexism, intolerance and hatred to decipher. We have a lot of other things going on in our lives, so unless bigotry or other forms of intolerance are obvious, we just don’t have time to sort it all out and deal with it.
Perhaps I am being unfair here saying white women garner more sympathy from us than Mexicans desperate for jobs or Syrian refugees struggling for their lives based solely on what one idiot like Donald Trump says about them. In fairness, Trump’s comments about almost all people might inflame our sensitivities if we could hear what he says about them when he thinks nobody is listening like he did in the Access Hollywood video. But what is inarguable is that all of Trump’s comments have been widely reported and half the country is able to set them aside.
Maybe the responsibility is actually ours. Instead of waiting to react to coarse sexually-charged trigger words like “p—-y” and “t-ts”, and phrases like “a piece of a–” or “I tried to f— her”, it might be time to actually listen to the messages. They are much worse than just shocking. They rise above simple arrogance. There is more to hatred than using foul language. Hatred can be expressed perfectly well using inoffensive words and plain English. In those far more frequent cases, we should be paying better attention.
Roger Marolt believes intolerance has become sophisticated enough that those who embrace it are not going to be caught using the n-word. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org