Though it’s generally a happy home, there is a stark cultural divide in my house: My husband, who was raised in a tiny, Southern rural town that was almost 100 percent white, loves “The Andy Griffith Show.”
I, on the other hand, get a whole-body-cringe-with-teeth-grinding thing going when I hear the telltale intro to the show’s whistled theme song.
To him, “The Fishin’ Hole,” which is the tune’s proper title, brings back warm memories of watching familiar characters from a time when people dressed nicely, spoke softly and generally lived a happy life with the aid of a sound moral compass.
Me? As a kid, I would catch an episode every now and then and thought the whole thing was hokey. As an adult, I always took nostalgia for that bygone era as an insult — a wish for a time when I would have had limited civil rights, few hopes for higher education and even fewer professional opportunities.
Different strokes for different folks — my husband and I reconcile the divide by instead focusing on things we both love. But it’s a good example of the tensions between white people and minorities when navigating the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
To some, it means: Bring back manufacturing jobs and economic expansion. To others, it means that President Trump wants to make America white again.
According to an analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic, financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Hillary Clinton over Trump. But the No. 1 factor leading to their support for Trump was cultural anxiety.
“Sixty-eight percent of white working-class voters said the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. And nearly half agreed with the statement, ‘things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.’ Together, these variables were strong indicators of support for Trump.”
One need only go into a previously majority-white community where Mexican grocery stores with Spanish-language signage have moved in to get an earful about feeling like a stranger in your own town.
These tend to be the same people who have been whacked over the head with irresponsible and terrifying news headlines about the demographic tsunami that will drown them in Hispanic, and other, recent-immigrant descendants.
(Just imagine how upset these people would be if they were aware of the increase in what can easily be misconstrued as anti-white entertainment options such as the hit movie “Get Out,” the popular podcast “Sooo Many White Guys” and the Netflix series “Dear White People.”)
Straddling both sides of this cultural divide means that I tolerate neither the racism and bias against people of color nor the left’s misguided and patently false anti-Trump narrative that all white people are racist and stupid for “voting against their own self-interests.”
For an ideology that prides itself on diversity, inclusion and valuing different cultures, it’s ironic that the left is so quick to assail Trump voters for choosing the candidate who promised to bring back an America without trigger warnings, unisex bathrooms or non-English retail signage.
But whether you believe this desire is right or wrong, doesn’t it need to be contended with rather than mocked?
In a recent post on The Atlantic’s website titled “Why Can’t the Left Win?” Conor Friedersdorf notes that there are limits to opprobrium and stigma. “People are never less likely to change, to convert to new ways of thinking or acting, than when it means joining the ranks of their denouncers.”
This is what’s so troubling: For many, joining the so-called “resistance” means aligning with those who believe that white people who don’t despise Trump are inherently bad and racist.
If the left wants to regain the White House and Congress, it has to understand that those of us who love our white children, white spouses, white in-laws and white friends are never going to buy into this false equivalence. And there are too many of us to simply ignore.
Contact Esther Cepeda at email@example.com.