BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

An anti-racism advocate explains why Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment was accurate

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

Last week, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outraged Republicans and others when she called half of her opponent Donald Trump’s supporters “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic”—in short, a “basket of deplorables.”

Clinton later said she regretted this “gross generalization.” But some, including the anti-racism advocate, DJ, and video blogger Jay Smooth, have come out in defense of Clinton’s remarks. The New York-based commentator asserted in a Sept. 10 video blog post that, while he has his own issues with Clinton, her “basket of deplorables” comment was completely accurate.

He went further than Clinton herself, saying that all Trump supporters—if not fundamentally deplorable—indulge in “deplorable” behavior. “The Donald Trump campaign is a deplorable, racist phenomenon,” said Smooth, in the video. “That means everyone, everyone who is supporting the Donald Trump campaign is being deplorable and supporting something racist.”

Clinton’s original comments, at a gala for LGBT supporters, were as follows, according to the fact-checking website Politifact:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Smooth acknowledged in his video that not all Trump supporters were initially attracted to Trump because of his racially charged rhetoric. But Smooth doesn’t give the “other basket” of supporters a pass, as Clinton did. He argues that even those who are not racist end up supporting racism by backing Trump.

To illustrate his point, he described a scenario involving a cross-burning, the traditional racist intimidation practiced at Ku Klux Klan rallies:

“I’m sure there are some people who come to a cross-burning because they just really like making s’mores,” he says. “But once you get there and you see the burning cross and you don’t leave? At that point you have chosen to be at a cross-burning.”

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