Monday, February 05, 2024


A common liberal summary of 21st-century American politics is: America elected a Black president and Republicans went crazy. Sometimes the end of this sentence is and white people went crazy. But the conclusion is still the same: The rise of Donald Trump (and, prior to that, of the Tea Party) can be explained exclusively by racism.

I've always had a problem with this argument. I agree that racism is a prime motivator for Republican voters. I just don't think it's the only motivator. I've seen the right-wing hatred directed at Bill and Hillary Clinton for the past thirty years. I've seen the hatred directed at Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Joe Biden, not to mention Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, as well as a long list of non-politicians: in the Bush years, Dan Rather, the Dixie Chicks, and even Barbra Streisand; in our own time, rage targets ranging from Taylor Swift to left-leaning college professors to ordinary trans teenagers.

All are deemed un-American, and maybe subhuman. The real America doesn't include them.

And then there are plain old liberals, who apparently shouldn't be allowed to serve on juries, according to the possible next vice president of the United States, Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio.
Describing the jurors as from “extremely left-wing jurisdictions,” Sen. J.D. Vance said Sunday the New York jury verdicts in the E. Jean Carroll defamation and sexual assault cases against President Donald Trump had no validity....

“This case, like so many legal cases against Donald Trump, they’re trumped up — they’re in extremely left-wing jurisdictions, or it’s actually the Biden administration prosecuting his chief political rival,” Vance said to host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

... Stephanopoulos pressed Vance as to whether he believed any verdicts by a group of average citizens in New York City could be fair. “Well, when the cases are funded by left-wing donors and when the case has absolute left-wing bias all over it, George, absolutely I think that we should call into question that particular conclusion,” he said.
Yes, Vance blamed evil left-billionaires -- in this case Reid Hoffman, a LinkedIn co-founder who has offered monetary support to E. Jean Carroll -- but Vance also complained about "weird juries in New York City."

Stephanopoulos asked,
So, juries in New York City are not legitimate when they – when they find someone liable for sexual defamation and assault?
Vance made no effort to defend New Yorkers as legitimate citizens who are rightly entitled to sit on juries in America.

You can say that this is racism with no mention of race -- New York is, after all, a majority-minority city -- but I think the word "weird" is the tell here. Recall that Vance once called Paul Krugman (who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side) "one of many weird cat ladies who have too much power in our country." You can say that "weird" in this case is code for "Jewish," but I'm not sure it's just that. Krugman is a childless cat owner. He's married, but it's not a "trad" marriage -- Krugman's wife is a fellow economist and frequent collaborator. (Vance is married to a lawyer he met while they were both at Yale Law School, but they have three kids, and he's clearly "a real man" because he tosses gender-baiting playground insults at New York Times op-ed columnists.)

Race is a big deal, but the belief that liberals are "weird" and therefore dangerous motivates a great deal of right-wing anger. Liberals, as right-wingers see it, don't respect appropriate gender roles and aren't sufficiently upset when swarthy people cross the border. Liberals want to drive weird non-gas-guzzling cars and buy from weird companies that sell rainbow merchandise, even if they're not gay or trans. Liberals eagerly wear weird "face diapers" to avoid getting sick from COVID and got a weird shot that probably did weird things to their DNA. Liberal men are soy boys and pajama boys. Of course we shouldn't let them sit on juries and expect legitimate American justice.

I'm glad Stephanopoulos pushed back a little, but I wish he'd gone further. Does J.D. Vance believe that liberals are too "weird" for other American citizenship rights? Should we be allowed to vote? Should our votes count as much as the votes of "real" Americans? What about owning property? And who's weird? Just male cat ladies, or also female cat ladies? If a woman is childless and a feminist, should she be allowed to vote?

I'm married with no kids. I'm liberal and live in Manhattan. I'm weird, according to J.D. Vance. I think I'm also an American, but I know that he doesn't agree, and neither do the majority of Republican voters in America.

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