This one-star review of The Force Awakens contains a Trumpean “sad”


An example of today’s bias against white males wears a storm trooper outfit.

Donald Trump is bad, but so far we have understood him to be bad and special. He is particularly shameless demagogue, and because we live in interesting times, desperate millions have fallen under his spell. But we don’t imagine those people are emulating him. The Republican Party is not full of voters who are like their nominee. The country may be in the grips of Trump mania, but at least the symptoms of our Trumpomaniacal episode do not find us mimicking his behavior. Unless:


This review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, collected by Amazon Movie Reviews on Twitter, appears to contain a Trumpean exclamation. Granted, there’s no exclamation mark. But it nonetheless ends a declarative statement by ejaculating a single adjective that tells you how to interpret that statement, in the style established by Trump himself. Similar!

At the risk of introducing an element of conjecture, this Amazon customer also seems to echo some of Trump’s themes. In declaring Star Wars “just another anti-white male movie,” he participates in the conceit that America’s dominant ethnic/gender identity is under attack. That notion is absurd—if Hollywood really cared about males, it would have put more of them in its seventh goddamn Star Wars movie?—but so is the reviewer’s ability to reserve for white people cultural touchstones that don’t have much to do with race.

I was not aware that Star Wars was for little, specifically white boys. I guess you can understand it not as the tale of a farm kid called by destiny to grapple with the powerful forces in the universe and himself, but rather as the tale of a white farm kid called by destiny to et cetera etc. But who thinks like that? I heard the funniest joke from a white bartender today. Richard Nixon was the only white president to resign. White people who need white people are the luckiest white people of all.

Anyway, that’s why you see white dads wearing shirts with pictures of Chewbacca on them and black dads wearing Webster. Either that or both Trump and this Amazon movie review reflect the decades of rhetoric that actually did, in the words of the reviewer, make diversity a code word for anti-white male. Since the Southern Strategy, the Republican Party has articulated policies against minority groups not in terms of their inferiority, but in terms of the rights of those who would dominate them. Gay marriage undermines straight marriage. Every black stormtrooper is a white dude who wasn’t. When the sixth sequel to the movie about the brave white boy features a girl and a black man who doesn’t betray us, it’s anti-white males

Like the Trumpean exclamation, that is a trope people can understand. They might even believe it, the same way they might come to believe that blurting out an emotion is how you keep your audience with you. I wrote you this poem for Valentine’s Day. Romantic! To us, these manipulations are transparent rhetoric. But they are ideas to the people who get caught up in them. Politics does not just rally votes. It teaches voters how to think. Probably, we should all get a little more scared and serious soon.

Lindsey Graham is free now

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Lindsey Graham ran for president this year, and it didn’t go great. He ended up one of a dozen candidates knocked out by a celebrity clown and the most hated man in the Senate, and here lies American democracy in 2016. It’s a situation that invites frank assessment—something from which senators refrain on an almost professional basis. But as Miracle Mike Sebba recently pointed out to me, Graham seems to have embraced honesty. Here he is publicly reversing his position on Apple vs. FBI. Here he is declining the opportunity to pledge his support to the eventual nominee. And here he is at the Washington Press Club dinner, complaining that his party has gone “batshit crazy.” Together, these brushstrokes paint a much more likable Senator Graham. Maybe that’s because he more closely agrees with my politics now. But maybe it’s because he’s finally speaking candidly.

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Presidents and majority leaders against The Establishment

Anti-establishment candidate Hillary Clinton

Anti-establishment candidate Hillary Clinton

This morning, Montana state representative and innocent victim of a politically-motivated campaign practices lawsuit Art Wittich (R–Belgrade) tweeted:

Click on that link if you must, but don’t believe what you read. I’m more interested in the implication that Wittich, a former senate majority leader, is somehow not part of the “Helena Establishment.” It seems like he is abusing the term. But Wittich is a colorful speaker, and it’s only Montana after all. Perhaps you would prefer to hear a national figure speak of the establishment—for example, former president Bill Clinton, who told USA Today that his wife is “not an establishment politician.” At the Democratic debate last week, Hillary Clinton agreed:

Well, look, I’ve got to just jump in here because, honestly, Sen. Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment. And I’ve got to tell you that it is …


It is really quite amusing to me.

Clinton added that she would now express her amusement by making the sound voters call laughter, but she was cut off by more applause. The important thing is that she will strike a blow against the establishment by becoming the first woman president, and also the first president married to someone who was president before.

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Maybe it matters how we talk about abortion

Mike Huckabee called the shootings "domestic terrorism" and abortion "dismembering of human babies."

Mike Huckabee called the shootings “domestic terrorism” and abortion “dismembering of human babies.”

On Friday, an evidently deranged man in Colorado Springs killed three people and injured nine others in an armed standoff with police at Planned Parenthood. “No more baby parts,” a senior law enforcement official reported him as saying. It appeared to be a reference to a series of undercover videos shot by an anti-abortion activist in which Planned Parenthood administrators discussed fees associated with the donation of fetal tissue for research. Or, as Carly Fiorina described it in a nationally televised Republican presidential debate:

“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says ‘we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'”

That video doesn’t exist, you can’t abort a “fully formed” fetus, and no one ever said that about harvesting a brain. But she was just describing something she felt strongly about, in terms that, if they were true, would probably justify armed intervention.

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In defense of comparing everything to Hitler

Ben Carson deploys one of his two historical examples.

Ben Carson deploys one of his two historical examples.

When I was an expensive SAT tutor, we made the kids learn three examples from history for the essay section. It doesn’t matter what the question is. Pick three historical examples—Rosa Parks, free silver, French revolution—and learn enough that you can use them to respond to any prompt. It sounds like we were gaming the test, but really that’s how smart people think. You don’t try to become an expert on every conceivable situation. You learn a lot about a few things—chemical engineering, the Bible, judo—and use them as frameworks to understand whatever comes up. The goal is not to additively expand your knowledge, but to multiply your ability to apply what knowledge you have. Most high schools don’t teach that way, because it’s hard. They try to cram as much knowledge into your kid as they can, and the really expensive ones cram more and harder. Anyway, that’s why your kid needs a tutor. Also, there was one example from history my students were not allowed to use: rise of Hitler.

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