Let’s step back a couple of years and listen to the voices of the so-called ‘deplorables.’ around the time of Donald Trump’s ascension: “I’m proud to be a deplorable!” This is even the name of a mostly defunct Facebook page, used exclusively to lash the world with toxic cynicism, and a fierce desire to employ a negative as a positive (https://www.facebook.com/I1DAPOI/). This page gets active almost exclusively around election time, which broadens the suspicion that it is likely one of those Russian troll sites (I have no proof of this), that gathers the most fundamentalist anti-intellectual reactionaries to post stupid things about Robert DeNiro, Barbara Streisand, or any stray stupid thought a powerless celebrity may have blurted out at a party.
This strange joy in being declared ‘deplorable’ (and Hillary Clinton saying this in the first place, while not wholly inaccurate, was tremendously politically stupid. She called out racists and homophobes and other superficial haters, yet somehow managed to rally all of these like-minded ghouls into a march for pride) is frankly one of the most defining characteristics of this age. I have previously written here on “The Sociology of Cynicism” (10/26/2018), and in no other modern day movement is this more on display than with “The Deplorables.” Even this, this name, a title employed like a racial identity, is scoured with acid and poison. Let us rephrase this, and respond in the exact same manner with just a mild change in language and absolutely no change in meaning:
“Those people are a bunch of stupid fucking assholes!”
“What? Hell yeah! We are stupid fucking assholes! I am proud to be a stupid fucking asshole!” Just because you do not respect the person calling you a name does not mean you need to embrace their slur, attempting to diminish it until it loses all meaning. Has that really ever worked? Do the words that racists use to diminish their targets become labels of pride for the intended? Are anti-religious slurs the boastful names of social groups–the Kansas Kikes Klub? This is not the smug indifference the so-called ‘deplorables’ seem to want to take this as, but really resembles a ‘triggered’ college liberal angrily laughing off their shame over being unloved. It is just like a stereotypical liberal over-reacting to one person saying something stupid. And the pride–the fucking pride in reacting this way, steeped in sarcastic meaninglessness, somehow gets justified in the failed punchline of actually believing that because their opposite number reacted just as stupidly to a provocation, this somehow makes one heroic to respond in a smugly like manner.
This is what I mean by ‘the pretentiousness of stupidity.’ There is an arrogant self-satisfaction in being declared worthless for people who really have nothing worthwhile to say in defense of themselves. All they can do, really, is embrace the lowest common denominator that they are. This is no different from a party-line Communist or Nazi or fundamentalist Muslim or Christian or Jew shouting down parliament from the rafters. These are people finally unwilling to think for themselves, and who are perfectly content being offended over everything. And it is this that makes today’s right-wing Trump followers the exact same sort of whiny pussy we used to consider liberals. It is all about hurt feelings, and some vague sense of personal injustice, ultimately undefined.
Are you still deplorable, after everything you have seen? Do you still embrace the sarcastic meaning that once brought you together with people who are certainly not, and will never be your friends? Do you somehow still imagine that this path forward ever had the faintest hope of making anything great? Then yes, yes. By now you have given a cheap shot from a shitty politician almost completely flaked off into history’s ash bin a true meaning. You have brought the term ‘deplorable’ back to its original adjectival form, and not as the future title of an off-Broadway satire featuring an all transsexual cast. You have returned this once borderline pretentious word home, representing shame.