Large numbers of Facebook employees, left-leaning people, and moderates are all calling for the removal of President Trump’s racist and violence-inciting posts on Facebook and other platforms.
This is a bad idea.
On May 28th 2020, Trump posted this message on Facebook (and Twitter):
This was a very controversial post.
“THUGS” has a strong anti-black connotation. You don’t think of a white kid with blonde hair and blue eyes when you hear that word.
A good test for whether or not language is racist (if you are white) is to pretend you are saying it to someone black. You would probably never call your black friend a thug.
The phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was previously said by a 1960s white police chief in response to riots and looting in the December of 1967. In the same press conference, that police chief, Walter E. Headley, said that “we don’t mind being accused of policy brutality.”
Headley equipped his officers with “shotguns and dogs” and said he would respond to the “young hoodlums” from “Negro districts”. He stated that “his men have been told that any force, up to and including death, is proper when apprehending a felon”.
Our President is comparing the current protests to the 1960s race riots and threatening to shoot protestors. He chose language that was previously used to threaten specifically blacks.
At the least, Trump is bringing attention to race. He’s trying to thicken the line between whites and blacks. He’s referencing a man that said police brutality was okay in response to a movement triggered by heinous police brutality. He’s both okaying and inciting violence.
At the most, Trump is an outright racist.
Does this mean Facebook should delete this harmful post?
Racism is tricky. It’s hard to pin down. It hides in subconscious biases. Racism lives happily in the world of he-said, she-said.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBA star and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient) describes racism succinctly:
“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”
A lot of people wonder if there is really racism in America. The media occasionally points out racism, but the media is cautious, and even worse, most conservatives and independents don’t trust the mass media (just 15% of conservatives trust the news).
These people think that the media industry gets paid based on clicks and catchy headlines — they don’t get paid for telling the truth. Newspapers and networks have well-established agendas and target narratives.
As a result, you end up with a lot of people reasoning “the media says that Trump is racist, but is he really? They say that Trump is trying to tear our country apart, but is he really? The media confuses me, and I think they have an agenda, and I don’t really know what to believe.”
This brings us back to what is remarkable about Trump’s post. These are Trump’s OWN words. This is not a secondary source. This is a primary source. This is from Trump’s own fingers.
Trump, with all his flaws, possesses one extremely refreshing quality. He publicly says whatever he thinks. This is unheard of for a politician today. Trump’s candor was so redeeming and welcomed in our double-speak world that it got him elected President.
We have no idea what most politicians believe. Instead, we find out decades later that their policies secretly helped population X and hurt population Y. Many nations would sacrifice a great deal to know the actual thoughts of their leaders.
Voters should ask all politicians to be as transparent as Trump. Then we could more easily evaluate them. The United States of America is a democracy. We are lucky that we continually get to size up our leaders and then decide to keep them in office or eject them.
We do not want Facebook — or anyone else — hiding or changing a President’s words. We don’t want to read some modified version of his words on some publication or platform with an agenda. Everyone and everything has an agenda.
We should form our own opinions about our President, and the best way to size him up is to read his actual words.
If we do read the President's words, then we will no longer be able to rationalize that “the media is out to get Trump”. The People will be forced to see the truth.
We need to keep shining that light on racism.
Yes, a lot of people will read Trump’s words and double down on their support for the President. A lot of others will also get angry and hate Trump even more.
But we sometimes forget that while the extreme Left and Right are very vocal, most of America sits silently in the middle. They don’t speak up because the extreme edges of the country are very loud. It’s not worth it.
Many of these silent Americans are reasonable people. They don’t want a jerk for a President. They don’t want a President trying to incite violence at home. They don’t think that a racist leading the free world is a very good idea.
And many of these reasonable people will read Trump’s words and decide “enough is enough”.
Many of them will go out and vote for the first time - against Trump.
We should never hide a President’s own words from The People.
People must face reality. Only then will people choose to do something about it.
As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning racism wherever it lands.
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“Tech CEOs should NOT decide what is good and bad” is another strong argument against moderating the President’s speech.
Comment if you have a better argument. I’ll update this article with other coherent, valid arguments in either direction.