New Yorker’s Evan Osnos Learns Nothing
The New Yorker has just published a 7,500-word article about Donald Trump, except it’s not really about Donald Trump. Two thirds of it is about Mr. Trump’s supporters–including me–and that’s what explains the title: “The Fearful and the Frustrated” [August 31, 015]. New Yorker readers can feel smug without even reading the article; Mr. Trump appeals to losers, just as they have always thought.
The author Evan Osnos, [Email him] is a veteran journalist and has been with the New Yorker for seven years. After weeks of following Mr. Trump around and talking to his fans, he announces that Mr. Trump is “expanding the discourse of hate,” that his core supporters are “the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality,” that he could unleash “anti-democratic politics,” and that he appeals directly to “the crude tribalism that Richard Hofstadter named ‘the paranoid style’.”
What a monster! New Yorker readers can feel delightfully superior not only to Mr. Trump but to the unhinged primitives who might actually vote for him–that is to say, the 55 percent of white men who say that would back him over Hillary Clinton.
The article is a perfect example of blinkered, self-congratulatory journalism. It makes no effort actually to understand anything. Mr. Osnos does quote one or two key ideas of Mr. Trump’s supporters but he pees on them from a very great height rather than try to refute them.
In June, when Mr. Osnos first asked to interview me he wrote to say that he was working on “a piece about race, in the wake of the Charleston event.” I thought this was an important subject so I invited him to my house. We spoke for two hours about Dylann Roof and what might have motivated him: race differences, immigration, and what demographic change means for America. Mr. Osnos assured me that he was “trying very hard to understand” dissident thinking, so I arranged for him come back to my house and meet several other racial dissidents.
At some point, though, like everyone else, Mr. Osnos appears to have been dazzled by the Trump juggernaut. He dropped his original angle, and focused instead on discrediting Mr. Trump by digging up the most hair-raising and off-beat supporters he could find. He now claims to have found the one Trump supporter who reportedly watched the Republican debate while sipping coffee from a cup with a swastika on it.
As part of this project, Mr. Osnos trotted out the Daily Stormer, Stormfront, the League of the South, National Policy Institute, VDARE.COM, the Traditional Youth Network, and American Renaissance, apparently to thrill his fellow liberals with the news that people associated with what the SPLC calls “hate groups” are paying attention to Donald Trump. When Mr. Osnos wrote that the Federation for American Immigration Reform has called Mr. Trump’s immigration plan the “American Workers’ Bill of Rights,” he was careful to add that FAIR, too, “is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” This is what passes for journalism these days, but is as meaningless as digging up the seven remaining American Stalinists and recording their praise for Bernie Sanders.
Despite his hours and hours of conversations with racially conscious whites, Mr. Osnos avoided conveying almost any of their central arguments, but he let one slip through.
He quoted Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute on the “unconscious vision that white people have–that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country.”
He quoted Hunter Wallace of the League of the South pointing out that the reaction of Southerners to the removal of the Confederate battle flag justifies “fears that people have about what happens when we become a minority.”
He quoted me asking, “Why are whites supposed to be happy about being reduced to a minority?”
There’s a pattern here. At least some people who take an interest in Mr. Trump don’t want whites to become a minority. President Trump would slow that process. But the questions of what a non-white America will be like and why anyone might not want that don’t get one word from Mr. Osnos. Apparently it is “hate” merely to ask. But simply to brush the matter aside is not the work of someone who is “trying very hard to understand” anything.
Only once did Mr. Osnos actually try to examine a Trump-related grievance. He quoted Matthew Heimbach of the Traditional Youth Network as saying, “[W]e are going to be the first generation in American history to be living worse than our parents.” Mr. Osnos notes that Mr. Heimbach lives in Cincinnati, works as a landscaper, and rents part of a house. He concedes that with “the decline of manual labor . . . nobody has been hit harder than low-skilled, poorly educated men.”
In other words: “It’s just as you thought, dear New Yorker reader. The people who like Trump are the yokels in fly-over country.” Mr. Osnos went to Harvard, drives a late model Mercedes, and works in Washington, DC.
But even more surprising is Mr. Osnos’s factual sleight of hand. He quotes what Mr. Trump said about Mexican criminals when he announced his candidacy and then sniffs that “the crime rate among first-generation immigrants is lower than that for native-born Americans–but Trump takes an expansive view of reality.”
First of all, a country should be able to choose its immigrants, and letting in even one criminal is a failure. Second, although our government makes it very hard to find out true rates of immigrant crime, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates the following incarceration rates per 1,000 for men aged 18 to 40:
- Whites: 16
- Non-black US-born Americans: 20
- Mexican immigrants: 23
- All US-born Americans: 31
- US-born Mexicans: 38
Straight Talk about Immigrant Crime, By Steven A. Camarota, July 23, 2015
The same rate for blacks, who are 12.2 % percent of American natives: 93 per 1,000. (Calculated from the Public Use Files of the American Community Survey.)
So, if Mexican immigrants do commit crimes at a lower rate than natives, it is only because the native rate is swollen by blacks and US-born Mexicans! The children of those immigrants will raise the crime rate.
After sneering about “Trump’s phantasmagorical visions of marauding immigrants,” Mr. Osnos moves right on to other “hoaxes and theories that were once confined to the margins have been laundered through mainstream media outlets.” His prize example? The knockout game. He quotes a study that–he says–“searched for a single actual case of the knockout game and found none.”
In fact, the study says there are even videos of “groups of black men casually walking down the street and sucker-punching a white passerby, without a word and for no apparent reason,” but insists there has been “no measurable increase in these types of attacks.” [The ‘Knockout Game’: Moral Panic and the Politics of White Victimhood, By Mike King [Email him] Race Class April-June 2015 v]. Here is just one of the many YouTube videos about the game.
The knockout game–otherwise known as “polar bear hunting” because of the usual race of the victim–has been well established at least since 2009, but Mr. Osnos has kept himself resolutely ignorant.
This sort of thing makes a mockery of the New Yorker’s vaunted fact checking. A nice lady from the magazine called and wanted to know if I had said the things Mr. Osnos quoted me as saying when he interviewed me and five other people. Indeed, I had. But Mr. Osnos ominously concluded his account of the conversation with: “They uniformly predicted a violent future.” I never made such a prediction, and I don’t remember anyone else doing so, and the nice lady never asked about that. But Mr. Osnos can’t resist peddling a dark vision of white men hoarding guns and ammo.
He tells us Mr. Trump has “unleashed an old gene in American politics” that leads “to the anti-democratic politics of absolutism.” What?! Not a single one of the “haters” to whom Mr. Osnos spoke said one word that could be construed as “anti-democratic.” What is the leap of hysteria by which people like Mr. Osnos conclude that people with whom they disagree are anti-democratic?
Mr. Osnos ends the article with the claim that Mr. Trump’s core supporters are “the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality, with no reconciliation in sight.”
If there is no reconciliation in sight it is because of the heroic blindness of people like Mr. Osnos, who do not even try to look past clichés about “hate,” “crude tribalism,” “fear and frustration,” and “the paranoid style.”
Soviet psychiatrists decided free-markets advocates were insane and locked them up in mental hospitals, so the New Yorker is heir to a proud tradition.
When Mr. Osnos finished his article he sent me a link, adding, “I hope the result captures a complex phenomenon.” Does the man have a sense of humor or has he actually managed to learn nothing? Alas, I fear it is the latter.