Sticks, stones and Harris the ‘monster’ - GulfToday

Sticks, stones and Harris the ‘monster’


Kamala Harris. File

Gracie Bonds Staples, Tribune News Service

As a woman, Kamala Harris had a rough hill to climb, but the fact that the pundits went after her style and not her substance was more than a little telling. It’s time the president realizes that name-calling won’t break her stride. Gulf Today political team has the details

No matter how you felt about last week’s vice presidential debate, what happened after had to leave you feeling sick to your stomach. The president, as he so often does, was on a rant the next day, calling Kamala Harris a monster, of all things.

As pundits applied their spin, I was left wondering what in the world did he mean? Did he mean Harris was somehow disfigured and therefore, unattractive? Or was he saying she was mean like him?

I’ve known for a long time now that none of us looking at the same thing sees it exactly the same, that reality is often shaped by our personal experience, especially with people. The same can be said for what we hear.

This should go without saying. We certainly know this truth when it comes to say, food and music preferences. I like just about anything that is clean and edible, but my absolute favourite music is old school, though I’m happy to listen to it all, save hard rock. We can agree or disagree. Right.

Politics is a different monster. Politics seems to lead inevitably to fierce partisanship, in which we feel our views are under assault if others don’t share exactly what we believe.

That has never been more true than during the past four years, with the president consistently stirring the pot, dissing people who don’t see things his way and worse, calling them names.

He is particularly hard on women.

Valerie Sperling and Aaron Kall know what I’m talking about.

President Donald Trump has a long history of labeling his critics and opponents — male and female — in ways that draw on masculinity and misogyny, said Sperling, professor of political science at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has referred to former Vice President Joe Biden as “Sleepy Joe” (implying a lack of energy and strength), Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (in 2016) as “little Marco,” and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg as “Mini Mike,” emphasizing their supposed lack of virility and manliness.

“His monikers for women have likewise drawn on sexist stereotypes,” Sperling said. “For instance, he has said Sen. Kamala Harris was ‘nasty’ to both Joe Biden and to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, echoing his reference to Hillary Clinton in 2016 as a ‘nasty woman’ — ‘nastiness’ being the opposite of feminine likability.”

Kall, director of the University of Michigan’s Debate Program and co-author of “Debating the Donald,” was in attendance at the VP debate.

By engaging in name-calling, he said, the president trampled on an opportunity to capitalize on his VP’s performance. “It showed he always has to be in the limelight,” Kall said.

Interestingly, the name-calling and attack style, which by the way is unique to this president, has proved not to work. It didn’t work against Biden and it didn’t work against Harris. After both debates, the president’s poll numbers dropped.

And yet, he can’t help himself.

“It’s not presidential or becoming of the office but Trump has sort of rewritten the rules,” Kall said. “Some people like that he is not politically correct; that’s why he continues to do it. He tries to brand people. The ‘monster’ line shows the difficulty he has had trying to brand Biden and Harris. It was successful with Clinton but I don’t think this will be successful.”

As a woman, Harris had a rough hill to climb, but the fact that the pundits went after her style and not her substance was more than a little telling.

Somebody better tell them and the president that sticks and stones may break a Black woman’s bones, but name-calling can’t hurt us. We’re used to it. We’ve been called everything but a child of God. Welfare queen. Jezebel. Aunt Jemima and everybody’s favorite, angry, the label assigned to Michelle Obama.

Sperling said that in labeling Kamala Harris a monster, the president was again using racist shorthand to signal that Harris is dangerous to the American people.

Surely the allegations of sexual assault against Trump and his dismal handling of the coronavirus pandemic, she said, “make him far more frightening and dangerous — monstrous, indeed — than anyone else on the American political stage.”

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