Seth Barrett Tillman: CONLAWPROF: A Post on Nativists and White Supremacists

Quoted in full:

Got it. It is all clear now.
You wrote: “It is a bald racial appeal to [Trump’s] white supremacist, nativist base.”
When you wrote the above, you were not saying that Trump’s base is made of “white supremacist[s]” and “nativist[s]”. Instead you were speaking to that part of Trump’s base which is “white supremacist” and “nativist”. It is really obvious from context—except that it is not. And your after-the-fact, clarification is very helpful. And we should also generously ascribe the best interpretation we can to your original and revised statements.
Of course . . . don’t do any of this close textual parsing of ambiguous language for Trump, and don’t look to his after-the-fact clarifications. That would be totally crazy. Makes no sense. Totally different. Of course, we should a hold a businessperson-turned-politician to a stricter standard than a [legal] academic. See Trump, Academia, and Hyperbole, Makes complete sense.
By the way . . . throw me a bone here . . . you are now saying you were only speaking to part of Trump’s base. How big a part do you (and Professor X) think that segment of Trump’s base is? Does it include Trump’s Hispanic voters (maybe some 20% of the Hispanic vote) and his African-American voters (maybe some 10% of the African-American vote). And if it does not include them, exactly who is left in that base that you are calling nativist, etc? Who?
Throw me a bone. What precisely do you and Professor X (now) mean?

Seth’s post may touch a nerve for some of us who have been confronted, in some cases over most of our lives, with lefty ad-hominems dressed up as arguments:

People who support Trump’s policies are [racists/sexists/uneducated idiots].

People who oppose Obama’s policies are racists.

People who favor Reagan’s tax cuts are in it for the money.


These kinds of statements are attempts to end-run argument on the merits by imputing bad faith to the people on the other side and hoping that that shuts them up. In some cases this is done maliciously, in others it’s from lazy ignorance by people who should know better (dog whistles! projection!).

It’s nice when people at whom such attacks are directed respond both on the merits and by running to ground nasty insinuations that sometimes pass for serious argument in left-wing circles. I suppose leftists would say the same thing about conservatives’ arguments, but maybe that’s projection by me. In any case it’s probably best that discussions of contentious topics include people with diverse views.

AVI has a characteristically insightful comment at Seth’s blog.

3 thoughts on “Seth Barrett Tillman: <i>CONLAWPROF: A Post on Nativists and White Supremacists</i>”

  1. “White Supremacist” (WS) is interpreted by the politically conscious-ambitious-leftist-would-be-revolutionary and by the politically naive so as to be synonymous with “Western Civilizationist” (WC). Undoubtedly few reading this are WS and also undoubtedly very many are WC. If there is one “most debilitating” meme for young folks the acceptance this equivalence might be it.

  2. A young person – millennial – wants to be judged by his merit, not his “culture.” We stopped teaching our children to work, to earn, to be of use after we ended “the war to end all wars.” This is why we cannot tell the difference between WS and WC. Personal responsibility matters to some of the new people. And to some of us old people.

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