Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, January 19, 2019

Letter to the editor: Trump didn’t come out of nowhere

A few days ago, Joe Henao wrote about ways for the left to counter Donald Trump’s supporters, proposing that instead of altering language in the name of political correctness, they should “radically reorganize the ways in which we relate to one another.”

Instead of attacking Mr. Henao’s over-use of advanced vocabulary when it is unnecessary to do so, I instead wish to indicate that the writer fails to acknowledge a fundamental truth to the uprising of populism we have seen in this presidential election: Donald Trump did not just come out of nowhere. He, and the alt right in particular, rose in response to those whom liberals like Dave Rubin and Bill Maher consider to be the “regressive left” and their attempts to do just what Joe Henao proposes.

The regressive left, especially on college campuses, through some delusion of “inclusiveness,” have politicized culture and certain ways of life, resulting in a re-division of people on the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation - all while vilifying white heterosexual men as a whole. They create terms like “cultural appropriation,” attempting to dictate what clothes you can wear, what foods you can eat and how you can eat them and what pronouns you can use with certain people. If this is not an attempt to “radically reorganize the ways in which we relate to one another,” I don’t know what is. This is putting our society back into the boxes of racism and sexism from which we have spent decades – even centuries – trying to escape from as a society.

The left has not just targeted language in the name of political correctness, but also attacked the values of our society that many hold dear as well, apparently in an attempt to reorganize society thereby making it more “inclusive” in their eyes. Among these values, which have been attacked is the free exchange of ideas, as well as being defined by one’s merit or character rather than one’s uncontrollable aspects like race or gender. Anyone who stood in their way by embracing these values was baselessly denounced as “racist,” “misogynistic,” “transphobic” or any other term they may come up with.

The rise of Donald Trump and the alt right (aside from the economic reasons that people in the Rust Belt voted for him) began as an understandable backlash against this attempt at this “reorganization” of our society. So while Henao may be convinced that this all started with the bigotry of Trump supporters, many of whom voted for Obama in 2008, Trump supporters didn’t just wake up one day and become racist. Instead, the rise of Trump started as a rebellion against the already rising regressive left, victim culture and identity politics. Therefore, the proposal to radically change how we relate to one another would simply be redundant against Trump and the alt right.

While it may not have the cache of Foucault and Derrida, there is something conservatives say in response to the policies set forth by the regressive left, which Mr. Henao clearly advocates for: “This is why Trump won.”

Chris O’Sullivan is a sophomore in the School of International Service.

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