Painting into racist rhetorical corners with Coulter and Trump

The argument from Coulter (and the pro-Trump right) is either 1, the Loony Left are racist and so is Donald Trump, or 2, the Loony Left is correct about White Supremacy in America and Donald Trump is being railroaded by a Mexican. Turns out both statements are wrong!


I don’t know why, but I’m always at least a little bit shocked at the breadth of what smart people can profess to believe. In this case, it’s Ann Coulter backing up Donald Trump, which really should surprise no one, and that goes double when it’s finding clever ways to make a point about how bad white folks have it these days.

It should surprise no one that Trump is a whiny asshole, nor should Coulter defending a whiny asshole be shocking either. But the rhetorical arguments she uses are worth dissecting, because it’s basically saying that you can’t have a racial critique of society in America without also letting people baselessly denigrate each other. Leave aside the fact that on its face, Coulter’s argument is either 1, the Loony Left are racist and so is Donald Trump, or 2, the Loony Left is correct about White Supremacy in America and Donald Trump is being railroaded by a Mexican. She doesn’t spend any time on that unmentioned conclusion because it’s embarrassing, and when you’re being paid to say provocative shit but you still have some ability to self-reflect you stop thinking once you hit your word quota for the day.

So, let’s take on the two points; 1, that there are meaningful racial critiques of justice and law to be made that aren’t racist, and 2, that Donald Trump is/is not full of shit (SPOILER: it’s the former).

  1. Judges are informed by their experiences. It’s why we don’t have federal judges with, say, no experience as a judge. That’s the easy call. The more interesting bit is that experience matters for all kinds of things, and that experience includes your ethnicity, your education, and generally what’s happened to you in life. There’s a reason why Plessy v Ferguson (that’s “separate but equal is okay”) was overturned: people’s experience between that ruling and later courts changed, and society decided that perhaps racial injustice is a thing that should be considered more deeply. Experience matters, and yes, you want diverse courts because there is no immaculate divine experience of the law that mortals channel into their rulings: courts made up of solely white educated liberals from the Northeast are not going to reflect the myriad experiences of life in America and that’s something you want to account for in your courts. There’s a reason you’re tried by a jury of your peers, and that experience of life is why. When an all-white jury is considered your peer group sometimes you can end up with statistically significant disparities in sentencing length and so that’s why appeals courts are a thing, and jury selection, and all that jazz.So, when someone (say a Supreme Court judge) thinks that having a different background is a good thing, she’s not professing the superiority of one outlook over another, she’s professing the utility of her own background in an arena that is largely white and male and lacking wider perspective.
  2. It is entirely different when you say, “because this person is Mexican they can’t judge me”, which is essentially what Trump was saying and what Coulter is defending here. And that difference is pretty large, because what Judge Curiel actually did is pretty straight-forward and that point seems to be lost. There are actual, formal things you can do if a judge is screwing you and Trump can afford them… but he isn’t disputing any of that. He didn’t like a ruling that looks solid, and so because he can’t win in court he’s going to just make a slur out of it. This is not Trump standing up to a power-hungry judge out of control, this is Trump getting a ruling he didn’t like and doing two nasty and dysfunctional things: 1, blaming that person rather than himself, and 2, deciding that the best, clearest reason why this judge ruled against him was because he was a Mexican (even though he isn’t).You know, if a judge ruled against me with bias and hate in his eyes because, I don’t know, he thought me some kind of virulent Communist pervert, and the ruling doesn’t pass the smell test and I find out that this guy is a John Bircher teetotaler celibate, then I might have some room in there to make hay. But if the judge issues a ruling and all my pricey lawyers shrug and move on to the next phase of the trial because it turns out the ruling is sound, and THEN I say it’s because the guy is an Italian, then clearly I’m unhinged and a whiny asshole.

I hope that both people that read this find it useful and everyone in America can now get on with being adults and selecting a coherent conservative opponent for Hillary Clinton in the fall.

UPDATE NOTE: the term “la raza” probably deserves mention. It does mean race, but it’s use is generally for Mexican-Americans or mestizos. It’s distinct from Hispanics in general, which is considered kind of a stuffy term. It’s a ethnic and cultural identifier, but is a lot more specific in application than an actual race; it’s more specific, like Afro-Cuban, than just “black”.

You’d have to be kind of ignorant of Chicano culture to think that la Raza is meant to generally imply superior genetic stock.