How to Upset Liberal Friends & Alienate Allies

Simple Questions Abound: Are People Tired of the Overuse of “White Supremacy” and low-bar Accusations of Racism? Did that Factor into Trump’s Win?

David Shuey
4 min readDec 9, 2016
Published in The Atlantic, November 30, 2016 by Conor Friedersdorf: “Too Much Stigma, Not Enough Persuasion: The conflict over a liberal blogger’s criticism of the use of the term “white supremacy‘’ provides a case study in how not to win friends and influence people.”

When Bernie Sanders is called a White Supremacist, as The Atlantic reported recently, you know that some on the left have “jumped the shark,” i.e. lost credibility or the ability to articulate an intelligent argument. And it helped bolster Trump’s win, in my opinion. Fact: A pre-Florida primary poll showed twice as many Republicans said it made them more likely (22%) rather than less likely (11%) to support Trump after confrontations and protests shut down Trump’s Chicago rally. Bravo to those “shut ’em down” tactics! A stronger majority of Americans in 2016 feel there’s too many people who are easily offended by language others use, 59% to 39%. A poll in 2011 showed 79% of American Adults see political correctness as a serious problem in America. In short: PC and righteousness isn’t helping your social justice agenda, folks.

Frankly, I’ve been tired of this New Correctness attitude for months — if not for years. I just stopped being quiet about it lately.

To my friends & community, I humbly ask: Do you want to win and further progressive goals? Or do you want to look good and say the “correct” things? Does stigmatizing people broadly really work? Is it not a double standard to call out “white people” negatively for things in a broad-based monolithic manner that you would never think of doing for any other group? Can anyone agree it’s stupid to pillory people or call them names because they don’t agree with your narrow definition of social justice politics?

This is what we must ask ourselves.

As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote, whose article was the focal point of the The Atlantic article and was (not surprisingly, but regretfully) vilified for:

“With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn’t anyone in America who’s trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos,” he argued. “Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism — or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status — in varying degrees. This isn’t just pedantic. It matters. It’s bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it’s far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus — big or small, accidental or deliberate — white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we’re all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don’t like as racist.”

A recent example? How about the internet oxygen last week being sucked up by “Racist White Woman Trump Rant in Chicago Store” which landed on Time Magazine’s radar. Isn’t the mass shaming a bit much? The verbally abused employees’ GoFundMe page has passed $30,000 of a $400 goal, as well as 4 million YouTube views. This compares to a God-fearing “white boy Trump guy” with a GoFundMe page that only tops out at $7,000 of a $33,000 goal for a new car. That’s $23,000 less, and not only only was he beaten and nearly killed, his car was stolen! One can know the definition of white privilege backwards and forwards, understand the social and racial politics at play, and still know full well the concept of proportionality has been completely lost.

I’m not defending the clearly mentally unhinged Trump-voting woman who called a black employee an “animal” — the most racist thing she said in an 11-minute tirade-filled video. But she was publicly doxed on social networks — phone number, email, and home address — as well as her husband online. Or is it this husband? Eventually, a statement by her ex-employer Sinai Health System was released (maybe she went bat-shit crazy two months before) where even comment “likes” soared into the hundreds. Is this evidence enough of an unhealthy national obsession?

Anyway, it’s time to order University of Illinois at Chicago professor’s Walter Benn Michaels’ “The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality,” on Amazon and be done with it. Or wait two weeks and buy at City Lights in San Francisco when I visit over holiday break. Now that would be the “woke” thing to do. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek for that one. I bought four on Amazon before pushing “publish.”)



David Shuey

Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes for all. Empiricism, relevant facts, and logical arguments > simple narratives.