Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 14, 2016

What’s Not Deplorable About “Deplorable Lives Matter”

Citizen at Trump rally holds sign reading "Deplorable Lives Matter." credit: Deplorable AJ /Twitter via USA Today

OK, Trump supporters are sporting this phrase and wearing it on t-shirts completely out of spite. At the same time though, what about the truth that underlies all defensive gestures? If you think back to high school, a common way the kids who couldn’t cut it used to defend themselves was to revel in their inferiority. Looking at the photo below from a Trump rally last June, I might add, the gesture amongst the Trumpists is nothing new:

Damon Winter/The New York Times. caption: Donald J. Trump spoke at a campaign rally in San Jose, Calif. June 2016.)

Even if the proud display of Hillary’s words are an out-and-out provocation, though, what about taking the phrase at face value for a minute? If we do that, whether it’s about African-Americans not feeling they matter, or gays not feeling they matter, or angry middle or lower-income whites feeling that they don’t, taking the phrase literally instead of rhetorically allows us to see their racism, xenophobia or homophobia in a larger context. It allows us to see it as a symptom, not just evidence they are either co-combatants or assholes.

On that level, even if these people are drowning in nihilism and venom, it’s the lack of living wages, and job training, and affordable healthcare, and mental health care, and senior care, and drug prevention and treatment, that matters more.

And if we truly want a better, healthier, less hostile and less defensive society across all groups (or, buckets), that’s ultimately the way to be reading this. Otherwise, we all deserve the t-shirt.

(Photo: Deplorable AJ  via USA Today Photo 2: Damon Winter/The New York Times. caption: Donald J. Trump spoke at a campaign rally in San Jose, Calif. June 2016.)

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