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By Jason Michael
VICTORIA JOHNSON, a young American woman, a new Scot, and founding member of the Independence for Scotland Party (the ISP), has published a video on YouTube supporting Donald Trump for re-election. Quite understandably, this apparent volte-face has sent a miniature shockwave through the Scottish independence movement, a movement which has been characterised by civic rather than racial or ethnic nationalism, inclusivity, and tolerance. In response to the video the ISP issued a brief statement on Twitter distancing itself from the thoroughly obnoxious opinions expressed in Ms Johnson’s video, saying ‘she is no longer part of the Exec team and no longer has any input into party policy or direction.’
It is crucial, however, that a more comprehensive comment be made on this matter. Victoria’s support for Trump and the revelation of her right-wing and white supremacist leanings may have serious and possibly lasting consequences for the independence movement in general and for the ISP in particular. ‘Nationalism’ is a stick with which unionists in Scotland have attempted to beat the independence movement, and this horrible reveal will only serve as evidence to them that lurking in the undergrowth of the Scottish national movement is a hardcore, right-wing, and white ethno-centric racist ideology of Scottish nationalism. Undoubtedly too, the Scottish National Party, keen to distance itself from this stink and from what it describes as ‘pop-up parties,’ will avail itself of this incident to manufacture suspicion across the wider movement of new parties. It is unavoidable, then, that Victoria’s outing of herself as a Trumpist will damage the ISP – regardless of this having nothing to do with the party – and may well jeopardise the entire project of a list vote strategy.
Before addressing Victoria’s video, for the purposes of full transparency, it is only right that I acknowledge my own positionality. Victoria Johnson is someone with whom I have worked with on a number of projects in the past. My concern for her wellbeing and that of her young family has not changed, and I still consider her a personal friend. My sincere hope, if she takes the time to read this, is that she will read it as the words of a friend and not an enemy. But it would not be right to simply ignore the statement she has made – and for many reasons.
Firstly, we must call out the privilege and overt racism of what she has said. One cannot claim to be consistently anti-racist and give one’s friends a free pass. Can one remain friends with a racist? Yes, I believe so, and I believe this because people are not racist by nature. Through ignorance, anger, and frustration people can think and say racist things, but this does not place them beyond moral and intellectual redemption – and this is, of course, my hope for Victoria. Victoria employs a peculiar phraseology in her video, which, after some inspection, reveals itself to be a set of dog-whistles directed towards her intended audience in the racist far-right of the United States. In the opening few minutes of her performance she repeats the refrain ‘I am tired,’ and no this is not her hiding behind her physical exhaustion at being a mother as she pretends; her litany of ‘I am tired’ statements – listing her frustration at ‘fear porn,’ ‘mask mandates,’ creeping totalitarianism, virtue signalling, ‘black square’ anti-racism on social media, media manipulation, and identity politics – deliberately echo the words ‘I am tired’ used by the relatives of young African American men murdered by the police in the States. There is just no other way to describe this sick and cynical use of the phrase by a wealthy and privileged Trump supporter than as despicable.
She goes on to lambast the Black Lives Matter protest movement – whose activists she dismisses as ‘self-indulgent, spoiled, predominantly white middle-class brats who [are] hell-bent on creating havoc and chaos and anarchy’ – as a movement tarnishing ‘the sacrifice and self-control that Martin Luther King embodied.’ Her reasoning masquerades as care and concern for black Americans; seeing their ongoing struggle for racial, social, and economic justice as the cause of ‘black communities that are covered in graffiti and rubble and urine and blood and that are literally on fire.’ This is victim blaming on a par with Ben Shapiro’s comment that: ‘Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue.’ Yes, some Palestinians ‘bomb crap’ and so many of them ‘live in open sewage,’ but not because they like to, but because the conditions of an illegal Israeli occupation and the colonial settlement of their homeland have forced them to. This is an unjust reality forced on the people of Palestine by the State of Israel. Likewise, many black communities in the US are plagued by poverty and suffering because of the conditions a white supremacist state has forced on them. This is a legacy of slavery, historical injustice, and social and economic alienation – and not because black people enjoy violence, urban decay, and the smell of piss.
Her issue with Black Lives Matter is that she does not see it as peaceful. But how can it possibly be peaceful when the prevailing structures of the state – racist structures designed and enforced to preserve white supremacy – define all forms of resistance as ‘violence?’ Black women who are tired of this miserable reality, who are tired of burying their husbands, brothers, and sons, are described as ‘uppity.’ Black men who speak up or act out are described as ‘thugs.’ There is no possible way in which black resistance – quiescent or militant – can be ‘peaceful’ in a white dominated and white privileging society where the language and the narrative are owned by the defenders and the beneficiaries of the status quo. Victoria defends her position by pointing to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his campaign for racial equality. Does she not know what happened to Martin Luther King (and Rodney King for that matter)? It is as though she is unaware of the Christianity of MLK, a faith built on the words of a Palestinian Jew who said: ‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34).’
By imposing MLK as the apogee and limit of black resistance, she is blind to the other streams of black struggle; to Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers – people and organisations which advocated the same kind of militant fight-back the white men responsible for the US Declaration of Independence and the Constitution advocated against Britain during the American Revolution. Can she not see this contradiction? Can she not grasp that what she sees as sacred, as the core of American ‘Judeo-Christian values’ – a synonym of ‘western values’ and a religionised cypher for ‘white Anglo-Saxon,’ was itself the fruit of a violent struggle against tyranny and oppression? It would appear that most of this America-speak holds the black minority to an entirely different standard, and the white American patriots of 1776 were not subject to the same brutal and dehumanising conditions black people and people of colour are in the America of today. Sure, violence is wrong. She and I can agree on this much, but self-defence in the face of savage violence and wholesale oppression and murder is not violence. Self-defence is never violence – except if you are an African American.
Still, she papers over these whopping contradictions with an appeal to the pseudo-intellectualism of an academic nobody – Karlyn Borysenko. Who the hell is this, you may ask. And this is a good question. According to Victoria, Dr Karlyn Borysenko (PhD) is an organisational psychologist of note and a You-Tuber of some considerable accomplishment. This giant of the academy, this ‘expert,’ has led Victoria to the conclusion that Critical Race Theory – the school of thinking which spells out structural racism, white privilege, and systemic racial injustice – is nothing but ‘junk pseudo-science.’ Having never heard of this Dr Karlyn Borysenko (PhD), and having graduated with a post-graduate degree in Race, Ethnicity, and Conflict from a university ranked 108th in the world, I decided to look her up. She does exist. She’s to be found listed on Academia.edu with a profile that has been viewed an underwhelming four times, she has published no peer review papers, and all that is to be found of her academic record is a PhD dissertation from Capella University. This was the next thing – I have never heard of Capella University. But, thanks to Google, it can be conformed that it too exists. Capella University is a private ‘for-profit’ online university founded in 1993. This isn’t even the best part. Capella University was established by Stephen Shank, the former CEO of Tonka – the toy truck people! Good grief, she couldn’t even find an ‘expert’ from somewhere as illustrious as Trump UniversityTM.
It can only be insulting, then, when she deploys this drivel to write BLM and Antifa activists off as ‘these social justice warriors,’ and the entire cause of racial justice as ‘divisive insanity.’ But she digs even deeper, making the claim that ‘the actual fabric of America is in danger right now from the far-left’ – a turn of phrase that betrays her longer association with right-wing racist ideology. This becomes all the more apparent when she describes herself as part of Trump’s populist ‘silent majority’ whose job is ‘safeguarding [American] democracy.’ But what is she safeguarding? The US Senate gives the average black American only seventy-five percent of the representation it gives the average white American, and the average Hispanic American only fifty-five percent as much. Is this the ‘democracy’ Victoria wants to safeguard?
Then we have the outlandish claims she makes for Donald Trump, chief among them that he has achieved a ‘peace deal’ in the Middle East. Yes, ‘Donald J. Trump,’ as she affectionately calls him, signed off on the Abraham Accords – a name that whistles to the Evangelical Christian right, the so-called ‘Armageddon lobby’ – between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. But this deal is as far from a peace deal as you can get. It was nothing but a formalisation of a pre-existing trading relationship between Israel and the UAE that was pressed by the White House to facilitate arms deals with two of its allies in the region. When she calls the media’s refusal to refer to this as a peace deal ‘intellectual corruption,’ she really ought to check her facts. I did. Father Dr David Neuhaus, no less a person than the Superior of the Jesuit Order at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem – an Israeli, reported to the Vatican News Agency that this will not bring peace or stability to the region, noting that ‘it is rather strange to call it a peace agreement because the United Arab Emirates is not at war with Israel.’ Contacts have been friendly between Israel and the UAE since 2003. Neuhaus, an actual real expert, says the real issue in the region is the relationship between Israel and Palestine, something Trump has only worsened since coming to office. Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has emboldened Netanyahu in his efforts to annex the Palestinian West Bank while anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab discrimination within the State of Israel has increased. Neuhaus rightly describes this as ‘the core of the conflict,’ and the Trump administration has only aggravated the tensions.
Concluding her appeal for her fellow Americans to get out in November and vote for Trump, she repeats a number of right-wing talking points; the fact that she stands for freedom of speech and not cancel culture, that her fear is for the wellbeing of ‘western values,’ and that her respect is for the Constitution. ‘What it means to be an American,’ she says, ‘is that we have shared values, it means Greek Americans, and black Americans, and Irish Americans have these ties that bind us, and that is the respect for the Constitution, that is understanding that our democracy was founded in Judeo-Christian ethics. And there is only one person who is capable of defending our democracy at this juncture and that is Donald Trump.’ One massive dog-whistle.
She has abused our trust and our goodwill, and there is no place for her poisonous opinions in our movement or in Scotland.Tweet
This is not who we are in the Scottish independence movement, and this intellectual corruption puts her well beyond the pale of the values we hold dear – freedom, equality, tolerance, and truth. Her idea of democracy, a democracy only in name that acts to limit the freedom and rights of minorities is unacceptable to us. Her decision to unmask herself as a racist, as a supporter of Israeli colonial-imperialism, and as a supporter of a lying fascist demagogue exposes our movement to the charge of being contaminated with the same political disease with which she has aligned herself – and this is truly reprehensible. She has abused our trust and our goodwill, and there is no place for her poisonous opinions in our movement or in Scotland.
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12 thoughts on “Going Full Trump Apologist”
All very sad. Best to draw a veil over the episode.
Except she is only one example of where so many are heading and how susceptible people are. Brexit campaign was illustrative – the believable lie will lose out to the half truth or waffle –
This is a timely reminder/warning to YES. Unless YES develops a clear language with real cut through – it is also at risk in any future campaign of enough scared people falling for these fear messages to swing it the Union’s way .
YES has waisted the last 3 years waiting for the SNP. Instead of honing its campaign it has been in a never ending holding pattern.
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EDIT. That should be:
The half truth or waffle will loose out to the believable lie.
Just to add to one of your later points. America was never formed on Judeo-Christian ethics, it was formed on secularism. That’s why one of the founding tenets of the US is the separation of Church and State. Another thing to add to the long list of things that Trump & Victoria doesn’t understand.
We have to ask ourselves 1 question, did she already hold these views and was a viper in the nest or was she radicalised so quickly that none of us had a chance to bat an eyelid?
You are right. This is not a point I was making, but a quote from Victoria’s video.
You have un-packed it so well. The only thing I can add is the “I’m tired of mask mandates”. for me was illustrative and not for the reasons in your video.
Her logic here is so common but is in reality 180 degrees. If masks are now essential then the question was and always is why have the government not put into place all the levers of state to ensure adequate and affordable supply. In a civil society, we work on and expect our governments to facilitate the essentials. To now expect the individual to make up for the levers of state in times of scarcity and necessity is a signal that the government is not able or willing to use the leavers for us the we are not all in this together.
We are at a moment of mass wilful forgetting. Until this year everyone knew masks are apart of infection control. Everyone would expect their surgeon to wear one in an operation and medical staff dealing with infectious wards to wear PPE. In fact, they would have screamed until blue if their medical staff didn’t. So unless everyone was up in arms that their surgeon was operating in a mask they are talking pish for partisan reasons.
Once people perceive our governments are no longer working with us people do strange things. I fear brutality this way lies.
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
You’re some jerk to have posted that bilge and think people will nod and applaud your sociopathic crap.
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Does this woman know that there were widespread riots in the United States after the assassination of Martin Luther King? There were riots reported in around 100 cities. So no, not everything during the Civil Right Era was peaceful. In addition, there were civil rights leaders and citizens who didn’t follow Dr. King’s example of non-violence. There’s lots of criticism of the left in the U.S. in this video which is fine, but there is no criticism of the right. As for the “silent majority” in support of Trump, he lost the popular vote by around 3 million votes in the last presidential election. Trump only won the presidency by winning a small margin in three states because of the United States’ odd system of using the electoral college in presidential elections. Trump has been one of the most divisive presidents in the history of the Unistd States, if not the most divisive. To say that he is the person that can lead the United States at this point, when he is responsbile for so much of the division and rancor,defies logic. Most of Trump’s actions and words are only for the consumption of his base.
Only watched a few seconds in the video and got tired of it. Trump is an odious moron and only odious morons or people suffering a mental health episode would think otherwise. This virus is certainly putting a spotlight on just how many selfish and stupid people there are in the world.
I can’t say I am impressed by SNP members talking in derisory terms like pop up party. They are starting to sound like the British parties used to talk about the SNP.
Right on man, right on! How much longer do we have to suffer these moronic fools? Less than a month longer, that’s how much. Then the orange buffoon will be kicked out of the White House, probably straight into jail and the deluded fools that propped up his illegitimate regime will get their just deserts.
Thought I’d share that I agree with everything in this, except your unwarranted slam of Capella.
I also graduated from Capella with a BSc in IT/Graphics & Multimedia in 2012 (4.0GPA / First). Capella is the closest America will ever get to the Open University in the UK. For over 20 years, Capella offers degrees for folk in full-time work and over 24 (an exception being made for those in the armed forces). I did it as a full-time working single-parent for most of the five years I took to complete it. I had to interact with approx. 30 “classmates” in each course, located across the US (and one time with someone in Brazil, Iraq and Germany). The timezone differences made group projects a major hassle. One of my professors lived in Scotland. All professors also worked full-time in regular academia – this was an avenue for them to make additional money.
I’ll tell you it’s not a paid for degree programme, and without the likes of Capella and Phoenix, the online courses currently being offered today due to Covid would never have been ready in time (Blackboard and Moodle had to start somewhere). I had a good friend who also tried to do a Capella degree and was kicked off the course within two years as his average grades fell below a GPA of 2. Had one person on my course who copied a section of a book as their contribution to a group project – but we had to submit all papers using an anti-plagiarism process (“Turn-it-in” is an example commonly used in the UK today). That student was immediately terminated due to their zero-tolerance policy. You had to spend over 8 hours a week per course on reading/coursework.
Capella offers some courses (such as nursing) in person, so it’s not entire online either. As for the Tonka reference, Capella is headquartered in Minneapolis, which is a relatively short drive away from Minnetonka (home to the late music artist Prince), where Tonka toys was founded (it’s also where Rollerblade originates). American businesses see no difference between an online degree and an in-person one. I’ll agree they aren’t known much outside the USA, but then again there’s probably over a thousand universities in the US.
Thought you’d appreciate the insight. Dean