by Charles M. Blow · August 5, 2018
Donald Trump has a penchant for labeling particular people. It might strike some as just another insult for a petulant urchin of a man who insults everyone with whom he takes issue. But I believe that the nature of his insults to specific kinds of people says something more about the character and nature of the man, something of which he may or may not be aware.
I believe that the fact that he so often attacks the intellectual capacity of women and minorities exposes a racial and gender bias, one that has a long history and a wide acceptance.
Friday, Trump Tweeted:
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Lemon, a CNN anchor, was interviewing James about the school James was opening in Akron for at-risk students. During the interview, James accurately noted:
“We’re in a position right now in America, more importantly, where the race thing has taken over because I believe our president is kinda trying to divide us.”
Hover over the irony here: The man trying to help at-risk children by opening doors for them was being attacked by the man who has put children at risk by locking them in cages.
LeBron James in Oakland, Calif., in 2013 and President Trump in Ohio on Saturday.CreditRobert Galbraith/Reuters and Leah Millis/Reuters
On Thursday at a Pennsylvania rally, Trump repeated the sobriquet he has assigned to California Representative Maxine Waters, calling her, “Very low IQ low. Low IQ.”
This attack on a woman seems to me even more important than the racial question. Might it also have some racial underpinning? Definitely. With his history, Trump requires that all his actions be examined through a racial lens.
If these denigrations of the intelligence of Waters existed in isolation, one might well be able to write them off as fluke or coincidence, but they do not exist in isolation.
A review of the many insults Trump has spouted since he declared his candidacy finds that although he has called many people dumb, or dummies or low I.Q., the targeting of that particular insult at women, including minority women, occurs with curious frequency and is often a singular line of attack against them, rather than one of many.
He has called MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock,” “low I.Q.,” and “crazy and very dumb.”
He has called Headline News anchor S.E. Cupp and political commentator Anna Navarro “two of the dumbest people in politics,” and has called Cupp “one of the dumber pundits on TV.”
He has called Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus “really dumb” and “a real dummy.”
He has called Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin “one of the dumber bloggers.”
He has said of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg that she “has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me.”
He has said of the journalist Mary Katherine Ham that she “isn’t smart enough to know what’s going on at the border.”
He has called the Forbes writer Clare O’Connor a “dummy” multiple times.
He has said that Maria Cordona made Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts look “even dumber” than he believed she was on a news show.
He has called Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffPost, a “dummy.”
I read in these comments an overt misogyny that has long existed in this country and the world, one that seeks to undercut the seriousness and cerebral capacity of women, to render them as emotionally unsuitable for deep deliberative analysis.
It would be laughable, if so many people didn’t vehemently insist that the myth has meaning.
This is the very same argument that people have used to deny women’s suffrage and prevent access to full political participation.
This is even something children learn in school. As Scholastic wrote:
“Women had campaigned actively for suffrage in America since 1848, when delegates met at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first Woman’s Rights Convention. But convincing a majority of men to empower women was a tall order. Most people, male and female alike, believed that women were biologically unfit for politics. According to one orator at a mass meeting in Albany, New York, ‘A woman’s brain involves emotion rather than intellect, [which] painfully disqualifies her for the sterner duties to be performed by the intellectual faculties.’ Even those who thought women might be capable of political activity, often decided that the family had to come first. ‘Housewives!’ announced a Massachusetts journal, ‘You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout.’ ”
And yet, 170 years on, we have a president of the United States questioning women’s intelligence.
The real irony here is that, judging by I.Q. scores, women are now smarter than men. As The Telegraph reported in 2012 on a study by “James Flynn, a world-renowned expert in I.Q. testing”:
“Women have scored higher than men in intelligence testing for the first time since records began.”
Who looks dumb now? Yes, Trump.