Remember that episode of Top Gear where they go to America and paint messages on their cars designed to cause as much offense as possible? For the uninitiated, the show’s three presenters were given a challenge (forget the obviously scripted nature of the show for a moment): write messages on each other’s cars which would make the locals damage them as much as possible. The messages proved to be too successful – after being set upon by rednecks who apparently took issue with one of the cars’ messages in support of homosexuality, a local radio station had broadcast their cars’ registration plates as a target for attack, and the crew had to wipe the messages off their cars and get out of Alabama as quickly as possible. It’s one of the most well-known scenes in Top Gear history. I thought it was hilarious.
But what the first person said in the initial confrontation was quite interesting:
person [redneck]: “Now are y’all gay looking to see how long it takes to get beat’ up in a hick town?”
This is the sort of line we’d love to ignore – something that indicates more awareness than we’d prefer her to have. Indeed, I ignored it the first time I saw the scene – I was too busy laughing with vindictive glee at the homophobes who were now getting humiliated on international television. But what she said was, I think, very telling as to the true reason for her anger. Because I don’t think she was angry about support for gays (well … not entirely at least). I think she was angry about the fact that a bunch of people who obviously thought they were better than the locals came and assumed she would be homophobic, and that she was very obviously being made fun of. In short, she was being treated as a ‘hick’. And in that context, of course she’d be angry. Wouldn’t you be angry if people spoke to you with pre-conceived notions of how you behave and think – that is, if you were being stereotyped?
Which is why I don’t understand why everyone who opposes Trump, and I do mean pretty much every single one of us, seems to think there’s nothing wrong with belittling Trump supporters, and then have the face to wonder aloud about how he manages to get so much support.
Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I do not support Trump. I, like many left-leaning people around the world (I believe the right refers to us collectively as ‘lib-tards’), support Sanders, and truly believe he can make a massive positive impact on many of the issues facing America today. And if I were forced to choose between Clinton and Trump, I would choose Clinton in less time than it takes men’s rights activists to feel sorry for themselves when watching the Ghostbusters remake (which takes a unit of time so small it can only exist in a theoretical sense). In short, Trump is, in my opinion at least, bad.
But I can’t help but hesitate when I see yet another article talking about how stupid and ignorant Trump voters are. “I just don’t understand, surely people are better than this” say the smug moderates who continue typing very obviously false attempts at exasperation and benefits of doubt in an effort to look more balanced than they really are. Well, you know what? Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re too busy typing out our ‘I’m not that right-wing’ insecurities to realise we’re the ones pushing Trump voters away. Doubtless, if Trump does win the presidency, these same people will gleefully type pretend-lamentations of how people are stupid and that society is doomed and that dictatorships are needed, or something. I doubt even blind cave-dwelling salamanders, cut off from the outside world millions of years ago, could be more isolated from reality than these netizens.
At the moment, Trump looks set to lead the Republicans to an abysmal loss. But if we continue treating anyone with a hint of anti-Clinton views as uneducated proletarians not worth listening to, this might change. Hey, at least the smuggers will feel more energised than ever before, right?