Thursday, July 01, 2021

For Adam Serwer Radically Distorting The Truth Appears To Be The Point

theamericanconservative |  Adam Serwer’s “The Cruelty Is the Point” is the most toxic piece of journalism of the Trump era. After the shocking election of 2016, the liberal establishment showed glimmers of willingness to ask hard questions about how it had happened. If millions of Obama voters were now switching their allegiance to a reality show billionaire, perhaps the Democratic party had done something to ill-serve these people? Then along came Serwer in the Atlantic to tell them that, no, Trump voters did not have any legitimate grievances. They were evil racists, simple as that.

The phrase took on a life of its own. Politicians from presidential candidate Julian Castro to “Squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley started using it. “Do these five words define the Trump years?” asked Brian Stelter on CNN. It became ubiquitous on cable news and Twitter.

Now Serwer has published a book under the same title. You might think the 2020 election, which saw Trump gain among black and Hispanic voters, would have caused him to reconsider his thesis that the source of Trump’s appeal is racist hate. Not a bit. Each essay in this collection comes with a short introductory essay describing how Serwer came to write the piece and how he thinks it has held up in retrospect. He makes very clear that, with the benefit of hindsight, he has no regrets.

Looking at the title essay fresh, two and a half years after it was first published, one is struck by how offensive it is, and with how little justification. It opens with a lynch mob. “Grinning white men stand next to the mutilated, half-naked bodies of two men lashed to a post in the street,” writes Serwer, describing an old photograph. He leaps from this haunting image to a Trump rally, where he detects the same “rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them.”

His evidence for this incendiary claim is a rather hasty list of talking points, very few of which live up to his tendentious billing. He accuses Trump of “seeking to ethnically cleanse 193,000 American children,” which refers to his not renewing temporary protected status for certain Salvadoran refugees. “Mocking Puerto Rican accents shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria” refers to this clip, which you can watch for yourself to see how innocuous it is.

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