Nothing is so surprising to me when a white man sits in between two people of different minorities (one African American, one Latino American) and tells them what minorities are experiencing in the United States is not actually what they are experiencing.
Last night I broke my CNN blackout to watch The Messy Truth with Van Jones. Van, as always, was articulate and passionate, as was CNN contributor, Ana Navarro, who also identifies as a republican. Between these two sat Rick Santorum.
Here are the things that jumped out to me:
One: someone finally addressed the problem of automation. A Trump voter who works at the Carrier plant that kept jobs in the USA asked a question about manufacturing jobs returning to the United States--How would Trump achieve this? Santorum gave a typical talk about how the USA need to be a nation of manufacturing. Van Jones, to his credit, pointed out that when manufacturing jobs left a lot of people were laid off. When/if these jobs return, most of those jobs will be done by robots. Santorum's response--the jobs that do come back will pay better. He misses the mark on this. While those jobs do pay better, most of them are in robotics. They aren't manufacturing jobs anymore. It only takes a hand-full of people to keep a whole plant of robots manufacturing cars. We aren't going back to the human assembly line. It just won't work that way.
The second: A young Muslim woman asked a question about how Trump would protect her right to worship how she chooses. She cited an incident in New York where a young Muslim woman's hijab was torn from her head, and the man shouted at her to leave the USA. That she didn't belong here. As I listened to this woman tell this story the look on Santorum's face went completely blank. It looked as though he had checked out. He said, in response, that Trump would promote religious freedom more than Obama. He said that some people are always going to be mean, it doesn't matter who is president. He asked what Trump has said that specifically concerned her, as though he thought she wouldn't have an example. She cited the proposed Muslim registration list. Santorum ignored the example.
What's amazing to me is that Rick Santorum was given example after example of racist acts against minorities and his response was: that's not racism, that's just a few bad apples, some people will always be mean. What he's really saying is, "I'm white, I'm part of the dominant narrative, I know what racism is better than people who actively experience the negative effects of racism." That amount of inanity is difficult to find. Kyla, my partner, said it's self-preservation, but not actually what Santorum believes. I think she's right, in the sense of self-preservation, but because of his undying self-interest in the status quo, Santorum absolutely believes that he knows what racism is better than those he spoke to last night.
Watch the whole segment below.