When Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high,” she offered a succinct and strong defense of dignity. The idea is that simply because someone else—in this case, Donald Trump—resorts to a certain level of campaigning that many find debasing doesn't mean everyone else should join him in the mud pool. It’s a moral lesson easy to decipher, but like any exemplum offered, there are levels to the s—t.
Not to mention, there is a difference between flying above another’s lows and overextending one’s self, e.g., willing to lend charity or forgiveness to those who mean you harm. Recently, there have been two separate instances of the latter. Sure, each is an example of good intent, but that doesn’t blind some of us from the reality that their willingness to go above and beyond is directly tied to the fact that they haven’t been attacked as much as others have been.
In the essay “I’m a Democrat. Here’s Why I Helped Raise Money for North Carolina Republicans,” David Weinberger details why he decided to donate to the North Carolina GOP after one of its offices was firebombed by unknown arsonists. Weinberger did not launch the GoFundMe account created for it, but he did stress, “This crowdfunding effort was an opportunity for many of us to state in public, with some of our hard-earned money, that democracy trumps threats, intimidation and violence.”
Weinberger went on to add, “The North Carolina GOP’s need was a chance to remember the norms democracy needs to survive: decency, respect, empathy and a sense of commonality.”
Hillary Clinton caught a lot of flak for referring to Republicans as her “enemies” in a Democratic presidential primary debate, but she had every right to use that descriptor. Republicans have been horrible to her for decades, and there are already signs they plan to continue that upon her being elected president. If they’ve been that brutal to a white, wealthy woman of power, imagine how they’ve treated the rest of us.
Weinberger is distraught about the violent act committed against the Republican headquarters in Orange County, N.C., though he and others gloss over the reality that for many North Carolinians, Republicans have long committed heinous acts against them. This would include North Carolina Republicans attacking the voter rights of black people, helping to assist in the resegregation of schools, and infringing upon the rights of trans men and women in the state.
It’s not the lighting of a literal blaze, but if you are nonwhite and LGBTQ, it is fire and brimstone upon you all the same. And considering that this is the party working to elect Donald J. Trump—a racist, sexist, xenophobic vile waste of humanity, as president—they are not at all concerned about embodying the tenets of decency, respect, empathy and a sense of commonality. A donation won’t change that. Besides, they’ve already got insurance.
Their donations are about nothing more than giving the immoral money that they do not deserve. Maybe these donors felt good about themselves, but they were not doing anything but feeding their own flawed ideas of morality. If they really cared about goodwill, we would have heard from them sooner about the evils of that party in that state long ago.
Some people simply don’t deserve acts of kindness. The same goes for forgiveness. On Twitter, I stumbled across a ridiculous meme depicting the rainbow flag, a symbol for the LGBTQ community, hugging a figure with Confederacy imagery. The meme was apparently inspired by a bumper sticker of a Confederate flag kicking the ass of the big gay flag.
Bless their hearts, but things learned from after-school specials and sitcoms that made up ABC’s TGIF programming block in the 1990s only go so far. The irony of that photo is that a 2012 Gallup poll showed that “the blacks” self-identify as LGBTQ more than other groups. There's also long-standing reporting showing that most gay parents are poor black lesbians in the South. Needless to say, I don't imagine the Confederacy lovers of the country ever rushing to hug my black ass.
Some presumably white gays got crazy with their software when they should have been Googling a clue. Much like the response to the firebombing in North Carolina, it’s another example of feigning moral superiority while glossing over the fact that maybe nonwhite people can’t be so forgiving for good reason. Any consideration of said reason should have those who really are about being good just telling those conservative bigots to go f—k themselves.
There’s something to be said of dignified restraint, but you go too far when you coddle and play nice with active agents of oppression. These people wasted their money, time and humanity. They’re not saints. They’re suckers.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.