TO LOOK BACK into the last four years of Donald Trump is to also see how much those opposed to him have profited from him. Newspapers like The New York Times, which had been floundering into irrelevance in the social media age, found itself bursting back to life. CNN metamorphosed from a channel that maintained the traditional journalistic ethic of apolitical balance to become the voice of anti-Trumpism. It, too, got a shot of relevance even though trailing in the ratings game. Vociferous anti-Trumpism made Twitter celebrities out of people from all walks of life. The mass followers of this cult were the young wokes in fields like academia and entertainment. And also urban dwellers, something that you see reflected in some of the election results map, where in a state that Biden won, there will be a large city that went for him but surrounded by an ocean of rural counties for Trump. Minor first-time politicians became mainstream because they saw the mood and veered hard left and, in doing so, turned the Democratic Party into a mirror image of Republican right fundamentalism. They foreclosed on the election, thinking it would be a sweep for reason. You could vote for a mad bigot once, but who in his right mind could do it again.
But, as the nail-biting finish has shown, the world is not formed by self-serving opinion. And the idea of justice can be many things to many people. And that sanctimoniousness can draw a backlash from those that observe and endure it silently. It is also in the nature of sanctimony to be uncharitable. Take, for example, Ida Bae Wells, a Black journalist known for a successful and controversial editorial project of The New York Times that sought to reinterpret America’s history of slavery and racism. Among celebrities that anti-Trumpism created, she ranks at the top, arguing that racism is inbuilt into everything that governs the relations between whites and Blacks. And yet, Well’s response on learning that Latinos have overwhelmingly voted for Trump has been to deny that they exist altogether. She tweeted: ‘One day after this election is over I am going to write a piece about how Latino is a contrived ethnic category that artificially lumps white Cubans with Black Puerto Ricans and Indigenous Guatemalans and helps explains why Latinos support Trump at the second highest rate.’
Such willingness to only see what suits them is why anyone not already sold on the social justice trope finds it so alarming. Like the philosopher Sam Harris, who is rabidly anti-Trump, but has for long been arguing that the social justice movement is not just phony but, in fact, could help Trump with neutrals because they see how dangerous the left has become for liberal principles like free speech and due process of law. Given how close the election was against all expectations, and that Trump got millions of votes more than 2016, he might just be right. Good intentions absolves no idea from tyranny. We already have a model of it in recent history that goes by the name of communism.