As I noted last month, were it not for Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid of MSNBC, the efforts by the self-described “water protectors” of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to prevent Energy Transfer Partners–the parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline–from running roughshod over their rights would be completely ignored by American broadcast and cable news. After all, those entities are scared to death of reporting on issues that right-wingers don’t care about–and as the results of the 2016 presidential election have proven, right-wingers couldn’t care less about environmental fights or the rights of nonwhites.
It’s hard to watch the footage of these courageous citizens being brutalized without realizing that there are at least 62 million American voters who, either consciously or tacitly, support having violence being visited upon these victims. In the minds of Trump voters, their lives don’t matter.
Ask yourself: how many Trump supporters have given five seconds of thought to the Dakota Access controversy? How many Trump supporters think the phrase “Water is Life” is some sort of left-wing pinko Commie slogan? How many Trump supporters view these “water protectors” as nothing more than whiners standing in the way of American energy independence?
If you’ve been following these protests closely on social media, then you have probably heard of the horror inflicted upon a “water protector” named Sophia Wilansky, whose arm was reportedly mutilated by a concussion grenade thrown by a law enforcement officer. Wilansky is facing several surgeries in the aftermath of her assault, and her life will never be the same.
Wilansky has suffered two tragedies. The first is that she has sustained severe bodily injury in an effort to protect something without which the human body cannot function–water.
The second is that there isn’t a Trump voter in this country who gives a damn about her arm, her life or her cause. It’s obvious that they feel the same way about her that they felt about Trayvon Martin–no compassion, no concern, no challenge to their conscience.
In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, two schools of thought have emerged on the left and center-left. One school holds that only a certain percentage of Trump voters are irredeemable, and that most of the folks who decided on the Donald are simply economically frustrated Americans who see the Democratic Party as deaf to their concerns. The other school holds that Trump tapped into the American heart of darkness, successfully seizing upon the selfishness of significant portions of the electorate.
I want to believe that the first school is right. I want to believe that Trump’s victory was just a cry for help from the economically distressed, that it was not an endorsement of Trump’s sociopathy, that it was merely a fixable bug in the American system.
However, as I watch the footage of these “water protectors” being treated like garbage, being hit with water cannons and having attack dogs unleashed on them, I cannot deny the reality that the overwhelming majority of Trump voters view these protesters as nothing more than obnoxious left-wing anarchists…and that economic anxiety was, in all likelihood, not the reason these voters turned to Trump.