A doozy of an interview is an amazing demonstration of someone attempting to defend a dumb opinion
A common feature in listening to arguments about political correctness is a perceived victimization, wherein good ol’ traditional values are under assault by everything from red cups at Starbucks to the accommodations for public bathrooms, and betrayed by the inability of leadership to say things about the Mexicans coming over the border who want to “rape” and take jobs, and the radical Muslims trying to kill us. In their minds, the victims are not the people of color afraid of being shot by cops during a traffic stop, or the women afraid of being raped on a college campus, or the transgender kids who can’t use the bathroom in public places, or the families separated at the border. The true victims are those asked to respect others, consider the grievances of people who have a history of being on the short end of the stick, and at a bare minimum not say ridiculous shit if they don’t want to be the ridiculed.
Because when we break the political correctness argument down, it’s really about idiots wanting to say stupid things and do it without anyone pointing out their stupidity. This is not a situation where people are being silenced from expressing an opinion. These are cases where stupid opinions are being called stupid and the stupid people who said them don’t want to own up to their stupidity, or confront the implications of what they actually believe.
Isaac Chotiner: You have a section in your book where you talk about President Trump’s comment about Mexicans being rapists. And then you have another section where you talk about Michelle Obama being “breathlessly condescending” when she said, “When they go low, we go high.” I am trying to understand why one of those things sets you off and the other you seem kind of neutral about.
Bret Easton Ellis: You know, I think “sets me off” suggests that I am enraged, and I think the voice in the book is pretty chill and neutral. And what I am talking about is all in context. With the Trump thing, that is true. He said that once, in his very first speech, and didn’t say it again, and there were people who had picked up on it and were still repeating it a year or two years later. Without putting that in context, yeah, I guess that bothered me.
O.K., but Trump says lots of racist things. We can all agree on that, right?
.So he says lots of racist things. This thing was only said once. Why does people being upset about it, or people being upset about the fact that we have a President who regularly says bigoted things, bother you?
No, no, no, no, no. That just twisted up what I meant.
Tell me what you meant.
You think I am defending a racist.
No, I asked why liberals repeating Trump’s remark about Mexican immigrants being rapists bothers you so much.
Because it didn’t seem to be truthful, and it seemed to be exaggerated and said over and over again. You think I am defending Trump somehow? I am bothered by people using that one thing two years later.
The sad thing is I think Ellis represents a type of voter who has always been around and always been part of the problem when someone somewhere was begging for help. They are the people who would never think of themselves as racist or sexist, don’t realize their privilege, and may even believe they’re progressive, but they care about what the Jem’Hadar would call the “order of things” more than changing anything to something better. And they may even “care” in the abstract, but only if it doesn’t make anyone—especially themselves—uncomfortable.
These are the same types of people who nodded their heads to Dr. King but probably told African Americans to not cause too much trouble, and be patient about sitting at the back of the bus. Or maybe they counseled the LGBTQ community about how “it gets better,” but warned against being “too gay.” They may even believe in progress, but they only want it on their terms.
And if it’s not on their terms, these people might as well put on a MAGA hat to symbolize their disdain for any attempt to speak out or resist.
When you think back to these couple of years, is your large takeaway that the left was too critical of Trump?
It’s not just the left. There seems to have been this hysterical overreaction that can be solved with voting him out of office. And I don’t know whether this pain and turmoil people have inflicted on themselves have gotten them anything. I just see a lot of people who have turned themselves inside out.
It seems to have caused a lot of people self-harm, and I don’t know where it gets anybody.
You are a novelist. You write about the human condition. Do you worry about the self-harm of people who see things like child separation and have no emotional response?
I think I am an absurdist. I think politics are ridiculous.
Maybe don’t write a book about it. Would that be the solution?
I think the problem is that I don’t necessarily see this as interesting as fiction.
Yeah, I could tell.
More at http://www.dailykos.com/stories/1849712