In a feisty segment on Sunday’s “A.M. Joy,” Elie Mystal of Above the Law made an inflammatory comment in which he said white people who voted for Donald Trump should be destroyed. This came after a segment in which he argued there is no moral difference between avowed white supremacists and any white person who votes for Trump.
In the clip, host Joy Reid asked how those who are “drugged” by the president’s rhetoric should be communicated to and convinced they are wrong. That’s when Mystal got even more heated, saying:
“You don’t communicate to them, you beat them. You beat them. They are not a majority of this country — the majority of white people in this country are not a majority of the country. All the people who are not fooled by this need to come together, go to the polls, go to the protests, do whatever you have to do. You do not negotiate with these people, you destroy them.”
Ironically, this comment came on the same day the New York Times ran a piece arguing that Fox News is inciting white supremacist violence by using words such as “invasion” to describe the situation at the border. A double standard is at work here, and it has become increasingly blatant throughout Trump’s presidency. When his supporters use fiery language and hyperbole, it is incitement to violence, but when progressives do the same thing, it is justified outrage.
Even the most generous interpretation of his comments — that “beat them” and “destroy them” mean at the polls — leaves some very troubling question. Are all of these tens of millions of people to be shunned and kicked out of polite society? If they are so horribly irredeemable that others cannot communicate or negotiate with them, what would Mystal have us do with them?
Furthermore, Mystal fails to mention that Trump got nearly 30% of the Hispanic vote in 2016. Perhaps he doesn’t think conservative Hispanics are real Hispanics, but that isn’t really his call to make. His misleading effort to make it seem as though only white people voted for Trump erases millions and millions of nonwhite voters.
Many Americans of all political stripes have rightly come to believe that our political rhetoric has become too heated. Along with others, I have argued that conservatives should fight harder against progressivism. But you fight the ideology, not the people. For some, the politics is now irrelevant, and it’s just about hating people you don’t like. This seems to be where Mystal has arrived.
Obviously, if a conservative had said that a majority of Hispanics should be destroyed to ensure a Trump victory in 2020, the din of the freak-out would make Chinese New Year sound like the reading room at the New York Public Library. And it would be justified.
Those who claim we have become so divided because of Trump or because of progressives have to understand that at a certain point, people are no longer “being divided,” but they’re “doing the dividing.” Outbursts like Mystal’s put that fact in sharp relief.