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Monday, September 12, 2016


by digby

Yes, they actually are:
For 15 years, my ethnic last name has appeared above all of my stories. Which means, for 15 years, some readers have judged me only by that ethnic last name.

I have heard their voice mails and read their emails. Smirked at their keyboard courage in the comments section. Told myself not to take the Twitter mentions too personally.

Call it bigotry. Call it racism. Call it xenophobia. As a writer – especially one who covers national politics – you chalk it up as coming with the territory, as hurtful and as menacing as it can be. This year, though, it is coming far more frequently. There is no mystery why.

Maybe you don't believe Donald Trump is a bigot. Or a racist. Or a xenophobe. But the Republican nominee for president certainly has won the support of people who are.

Forget for a moment Hillary Clinton's remark the other day that "half" of Trump's supporters belong to a "basket of deplorables." The Democrat later expressed regret for the broad generalization but stuck to her assertion that Trump offers a safe haven for the hateful.

There is no perfect way to quantify how many Trump fans fit the description.

The point is, these voters are out there. I know because I hear from them.
I don't think it's a coincidence that, recently, readers have told me I should be "on the other side of the wall" and that my background should "disqualify" me from covering this election. Some observers have suggested the Trump candidacy is like an online comments section come to life. But this was different. These came via email. From people using their real names.

I realize I am far from the only person whose ethnicity or race has become a focal point for a few critics. I don't want to trivialize the reprehensible prejudice many other minorities endure.

It strikes me, though, that Trump, whether he means to or not, has fostered a hostile moment in our politics when his supporters feel entitled to racially denigrate others.

Sadly, simply being a Gomez is enough to make you a target.
For three generations we have been proud Mexican-American U.S. citizens. [...] 
Lately I have struggled with how to cover Trump. Not because I'm a Gomez, but because I'm a journalist who knows the difference between right and wrong. Judging by my emails – even those from the readers who don't resort to bigotry to defend their candidate – many of you disagree. But when a candidate says things that are, at best, offensive to minorities and, at worst, racist, we have a duty to report precisely that. There are not two sides to racism.

Reporters have the tendency to credit Trump for "pivoting" when he uses milder language about immigration or when he visits a black neighborhood. It can be tough to pin down what, exactly, he believes. Just last week he refused to disavow his discredited suggestions that President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

I have wondered how I can objectively point out that Trump encourages hate. I find myself searching for the best response when a friend at a party or a person in politics excuses Trump by arguing that he is "saying important things" or "tapping into something that is real."

Perhaps I could show them messages like these ...

I have shared the Twitter handle since he chose to hurl these derogatory insults in a public fashion. Hard to say what offended this particular reader. The reply came to my tweet linking to a colleague's cleveland.com piece on where Trump might do well in the Ohio primary.

June 30, 2016: "just another liberal a_ _!!!!! u people should all be on the other side of the wall" 
This one came from a reader who appeared to send it from an email account bearing his name. It followed my story on Michael Symon telling a local sports talk radio station that Trump would not be welcome in his Cleveland restaurants during the Republican National Convention.

July 13, 2016: "You have been always been [sic] a biased reporter IMO [in my opinion], but now you are an obvious and clear bigot that is inflaming the political situation. Your obvious latino background (dark, short, fat) should preclude/disqualify you from the political scene in this presidential election. ... FYI, I have studied some journalism, did a lot of professional writing in industry. Also have graduate degree from a top university." 
This came via email from a Bay Village reader who signed his name. He was upset about my pre-convention analysis that highlighted Trump's inflammatory and racially charged rhetoric and how that ran counter to the rebranding the Republican Party went through after 2012.

July 23, 2016: "Also, just so you know, I have two daughters-in-law and they are both Hispanic. My grandchildren are half Hispanic. So I am not picking on you. I am not the biased one." 
Another email, this one from a Hinckley reader who signed her name. She was unhappy about my post-convention analysis that focused on white supremacist David Duke's Senate candidacy and how it was inspired, in part, by the message that helped Trump win the GOP nomination.

This is just a sampling of what comes my way after writing about Trump. There are plenty more that have been purged from my inbox over time. And this doesn't account for the many anonymous comments that sprout like weeds in cleveland.com's comments section.

One online reader recently accused me of allowing my "enthicity" to cloud my judgment. Another asked if I was here legally. A third asked, tauntingly: "What makes you the expert, Enrique?"

I confess I feel a little uncomfortable sharing all of this. My cultural identity is a source of pride, just like I'm sure yours is. But it shouldn't be the only thing that defines us.

In this unusual election year, it's worth pointing out that some people think it should. And those people are responding to the message that is being pushed by Donald Trump.
Of course it is.  But at the moment he's successfully pressuring the press to say this obvious truth is not true --- or at least that it's wrong to say it. It's disorienting.