If you ever wondered what Chimamanda Adichie thought of the outcome of the recently concluded US election, you can stop guessing.
In a recent essay published in The New Yorker, Adichie writes: “The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue.”
The essay is urgent and powerful. Adichie is not just criticizing Trump and the culture responsible for his enthronement. She outlines what in her opinion needs to be done to move forward.
For Adichie, Trump’s win is symptomatic of a broader political context that nurtures racism and misogyny. This problem, she suggests, is actually observable at the level of language. Adichie is been very much the writer when she observes that the language of American political discourse implicated in a broader context that sustains “overt racism, glaring misogyny, [and] anti-intellectualism.”
She calls on journalists and political influencers to pay attention to the way they talk about things. The words and images used to bring issues into the political arena for discussion matter. In the quotes we’ve selected below, Adichie offers a few pointed suggestions on how to reevaluate the terms on which conversations around issues are carried out.
Here are a few quotes:
A day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.
Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.
Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.
Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?
Now is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.
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Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.
Read full article here.
Post image by Michael Vadon via Flickr.