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Donald Trump and his shiny happy scared white people


When Donald Trump was stumping in North Carolina on Tuesday, he said a thing not a lot of journalists seemed to notice. Discussing America's truly grievous problem with Poison Skittles AKA Syrian Refugees, he said he didn't want to keep them out just because of terrorism, though that was part of it. There was another part, and it was in his official prepared remarks, which don't include the grunts and mangled English Trump adds to help connect with his followers. Check it out (the pertinent part comes around 1:35):

Now Obama wants to bring in an additional 110,000 refugees, and Hillary wants a 550% increase in Syrian refugees. Altogether, Hillary Clinton’s plan would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term – with no effective way to screen or vet them. Her plan would cost $400 billion dollars in terms of lifetime welfare and entitlement costs.

This isn’t just a matter of terrorism, but also quality of life. We want to make sure we are only admitting people into our country who love our country.

He said it on Wednesday too!

This is obviously part of what he says now. We don't want those people coming in here fucking with our White American Way Of Life. What, did you think all these Republicans are really scared there's a secret ISIS under their beds and around every corner? Some of them are, to be sure. But the underlying thing, which makes them see Muslims and assume, against all fucking odds, that they're probably terrorists there to behead them, is RACISM. Nothing more, nothing less.

[wonkbar]<a href="http://wonkette.com/606796/trump-campaign-says-syrian-refugees-definitely-just-like-poison-murder-skittles"></a>[/wonkbar]The basket of deplorables who make up Trump's base are people who see Muslims, Hispanics, black folks, LGBT folks and any other folks who don't pine for the Good Old Days of White America like they do as threats, and they hear Trump's message loud and clear. They believe him when he says Hillary wants to bring refugees in without screening them -- a damned lie -- because in their tiny racist minds, there's no amount of screening that could ever guarantee that Those People aren't going to ruin their idea of what America is supposed to be. It's really not about them thinking they're actually going to get terroristed during the big sale at the Big Lots.

We've heard this before, you know. "Quality of life" is a direct throwback to a more common racist phrase: "Our way of life."

On Twitter, journalist Matt Pearce of the L.A. Times points us to an article he wrote in 2015, about how a century before, Catholics were demonized in much the same way:

Damn papists comin' to steal Our Way Of Life!

The New York Times describes how, when Strom Thurmond ran for president as a Dixiecrat in 1948, white supremacists distributed fliers claiming that voting for Harry S. Truman meant "anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the land and our way of life in the South will be gone forever." Indeed, "our way of life" was and is a very specific code phrase for segregation.

According to The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation by Stephen R. Haynes, the phrase was used in Memphis as recently as 2011, as debate sprang up over consolidating the urban Memphis City Schools with the suburban Shelby County Schools. A conservative white Presbyterian pastor named Sandy Willson described to a Bible study group what he was hearing from "suburban leaders" (AKA Whitey Flighty God-A'mighty!) about the idea, and what the hell he thought about it:

Let it be noted that not all Southern white conservative pastors are bad, as we can see from Willson's remarks!

"Our way of life." Know who else was a big fan of preserving it? Adolf Hitler. It was the natural counterpoint to "The Jewish Plot" that was allegedly ruining everything Germans held dear.

[wonkbar]<a href="http://wonkette.com/596750/donald-trump-says-no-muslims-allowed-christians-only-republicans-appalled"></a>[/wonkbar]"Our way of life." It's bandied about in debates about terrorism, usually as a thinly veiled reference to otherness. It's why all the Republican primary challengers were able to join together to declare that it's OK if we take refugees who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior, but no gross Muslims! No guarantees they'll be treated any better than black folks in America, but at least they Love The Lord, right?

Now, you might be thinking "WAIT A MINUTE, WONKETTE! You are messing up our way of life by saying people always mean racism when they say Our Way Of Life, because sometimes they don't!" We agree, you are correct! Sometimes people use it to mean precisely the opposite! Itamar Mann explained this very dichotomy for Al-Jazeera America after the Paris terrorist attacks:

Once we understand the role of “our way of life” in distinct questions of security and culture, it becomes clear that to invoke our way of life is ultimately to make a political claim. This, the speaker says, is what we should stand for. Answering the question “What is our way of life?” is also answering the question “What do we want our way of life to be?”

Understood this way, “our way of life” can still surely be exclusionary, racist, misogynistic or xenophobic. But it can also represent hope that Western countries will significantly increase access for refugees. “Our way of life” is up for an interpretative battle.

Backing this up, Mann points at our U.S. American president, Barack Obama, who is welcoming and kind and loving, utilizing the same basic construction at a press conference in Turkey after the Paris attacks, arguing against denying refugees safe haven in the United States, like this:

[W]hen I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution -- that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are.

That's not "our way of life," in other words.

Those words have been used for good in Historical Times, too! In 1940, Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie invoked the phrase, saying, "Our way of life is in competition with Hitler's way of life." Willkie, like Donald Trump, was an outside-the-establishment Republican nominee who shook up the GOP. Unlike Trump, he wasn't a fucking bigot.

So, we guess we just have to consider context. Is Donald Trump a nice person who wants to be more welcoming to the poor, the homeless, the downtrodden, the refugee? LOL, get the fuck outta here. Trump courts the very worst, most backwards, hateful segments of our society, stokes xenophobia and racism at every turn, put a leading member of the "alt-right" in charge of his campaign. Hillary Clinton frequently cites that famous Maya Angelou quote about believing someone the first time when they show you who they are. We know who he is.

When Trump alludes to our "quality of life," or "our way of life," he means it in the absolute worst way. This concludes today's Wonket History And Politicks Analysis, you are now S-M-R-T, and it is all because of Wonkette!

[Trump remarks 9/20/16 / @MattDPearce / Al-Jazeera America with a h/t to @JesseBerney and @ParkerMalloy, whose Twitter conversation about this was the springboard for this post]

Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.

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