Donald Trump has resurrected the “silent majority” concept of the late sixties. The phrase was coined in a 1969 speech by President Richard M. Nixon. With massive demonstrations going on against the Vietnam war, many Americans disapproved of the methods and style of the message that anti-war protestors employed to make their point. The methodology of protest was often extreme, with egregious examples like that of Jane Fonda, the American actress who posed and protested with a North Vietnamese artillery unit, atop a tank, or inspecting an enemy grenade launcher.
To some degree, there were among the “silent majority” Nixon claimed to champion people who were aghast (and terrified ) at “race riots” -- looting and burning in American cities. Nixon was of the opinion that the media light was not shining upon the large number of far less vocal or exhibitionistic people and hence, they were “silent.” And so he claimed them as his own, much as Trump is trying to do.
Among this “silent majority,” there were no doubt some racists and culturally ignorant people as there are today in both major political parties. But CNN reporter Allison Camerota (formerly of Fox News) this morning referred to Trump’s recall of the “silent majority” term as akin to a racist dog-whistle. This is historically inaccurate and likely an intended smear of Trump in accordance with general CNN hypocrisy and principles of supporting any Democrat. CNN and others are very happy to use Trump as clickbait, blaring his propaganda and slogans the livelong day, and will gladly sacrifice real news stories and air time to puff pieces about Trump’s hair-do.
I’m not a Trump fan but it’s a very low blow to call him a racist, even by his own low blow standards. I would describe him as culturally ignorant, bigoted even, but to call him a racist is a long step down a very dark road. I’m no fan of Jorge Ramos either, but Trump’s repeated “orders” for him to “sit down, sit down, sit down” were ignorant, unsophisticated, and demeaning in the way a spoiled rich boy with inherited wealth might be to persons he considers inferior. Consider that, if you don’t agree with Trump, this inferior label includes you.
Trump was furious when Ramos refused to act like a well- trained and obedient dog and sit upon orders from his master. There, we got to see how much he expects everyone to fall prostrate before his billions, his catch phrases, and his bumper sticker campaign. Instead of “silent majority,” Trump might instead substitute the term “gullible majority” or perhaps “blindly following majority.”
The “silent majority” was not silent because of one single thing like the civil rights movement, as CNN’s Allison Camerota said today. It was silent because it didn’t believe that the hysterical street theatre of the 60s and the riots at the Democrat National Convention advanced democracy or American constitutional principles. When you consider how narrow-minded, dogmatic, and dangerous the 60s left had become (think Weather Underground In U.S. or Baader-Meinhoff gang in Europe (aka RAF – Red Army Faction), you can almost forgive Nixon for Watergate, or Trump for his truly effective media demagoguery. But too much of what Donald Trump says is either simplified to the point of being ridiculous or carefully calculated (against his rivals) lies. This should not be forgiven.