Bret Stephens Is the Real Victim Here, People

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Poor Bret Stephens is being accused of being a white nationalist and it’s so unfair.


Setting aside the white nationalist part for a minute, let’s start with the basics: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens is a shitty writer with bad ideas, and it’s his own fault that he currently faces so much blowback.

Also, let’s go ahead and stop referring to him as a “Never Trumper.”

If you haven’t read it yet, Stephens’ latest submission for the newspaper of record is a woeful attempt to take the wind out of the Democrats’ sails after this week’s debates offered a glimpse of who the hell we’re going to replace Donald Trump with.

Stephens called the debates, which captured the attention of a staggering 42 million viewers over two nights on TV and online, a “wretched start.” Why? Because the candidates and their ideas don’t appeal to the “ordinary people” among us. And by “ordinary,” Stephens is referring to xenophobic white people, whether he says that’s intentional or not. Just like a Trumper.

“What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?” Stephens asks, setting up his meandering expedition to Racistville, USA.

He continues:

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation. We’re expected to join the candidates in demonizing the job-creators, breaking up their businesses and taxing them to the hilt.


As expected, this particular passage didn’t go over too well with anyone who’s not, well, white. In fact, it provided plenty of fodder for people to accuse Stephens of being a white nationalist (see his rebuttal below).

Here’s another stellar paragraph (emphasis mine):

Calling for the decriminalization of border crossings (while opposing a wall)? That was a major theme of Wednesday’s debate, underlining the Republican contention that Democrats are a party of open borders, limitless amnesty and, in time, the Third World-ization of America.


Read: If Democrats continue to campaign on their current platform of proposals, the U.S. will become one of those shithole countries. In the eyes of Republicans.

Stephens’ defense to all of this is that he had switched his authorial voice to that of the “ordinary people,” and if you can’t understand that, well, you’re too dense. Or, as he likes to put it, “linguistically benighted.”


“I write a column that attempts to represent the way ordinary voters (e.g., people who voted for Obama and later Trump) likely saw the Dem debates. This representation of a view is read as an endorsement. It wasn’t. Next come the accusations of racism,” he tweeted in response to criticism.

To which one observant critic responded:


Another noted that this time, Stephens is “truly saying the quiet part out loud…”

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien spent much of her Saturday tearing apart the column (the rest of which is equally bad), calling Stephens “a virulent racist unqualified to give any advice on reaching past boundaries and creating dialogue.”


Stephens responded by noting that his late father was from Mexico and his mother was a refugee. He grew up in Mexico. He speaks Spanish. Blah blah blah. Notice in the following tweet Stephen’s false dichotomy that O’Brien is a “decent person,” therefore he assumes “she will apologize.” (Meaning, if she doesn’t apologize, well…)


O’Brien had a couple of responses to that:




Stephens also did something I’ve been noticing a lot lately: When criticized for something ridiculous that was said or written, just yell loudly that critics are “playing right into Trump’s hands!”


By this time, Stephens was flailing about and getting pretty thoroughly dragged online. Enter Max Boot! “I’ve known Bret for 20+ years. He doesn’t have a bigoted bone in his body,” Boot tweeted.


I’ll confess, I don’t even know what a so-called principled conservative is. To me, that’s an oxymoron these days. And if it refers to someone represented by this type of racist bunkum, let’s just call them a “Forever Trumper” and get it over with. After all, if the red hat fits…


Weekend Editor, Splinter