The Hidden Problem With Evan McMullin's Tweet About Life Under Trump

December 8th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin recently gave some pointed advice on Twitter for Americans to use under the forthcoming Donald Trump presidency, but one of the tweets makes a questionable assumption.

Evan McMullin

The 10 viral tweets the former CIA agent posted on Sunday focused on the simple things he thought Americans could do to protect their rights during the Trump administration. However, one seemingly well-intentioned tweet appeared to speak directly to only some Americans.

Evan McMullin tweet.

McMullin wrote that Americans should "defend others" who are threatened by a Trump presidency "even if they don't look, think, or believe like us."

While only McMullin can be certain what he meant when he wrote this tweet, the use of "others" and "us" could be considered divisive language.

Minorities and immigrants were most likely the "others" whom he referred to as the people who don't look like "us," which is problematic considering the Twitter advice was targeted at all Americans.

Who is considered American?

McMullin's implication that groups of immigrants and minorities could be considered "others," is a construct that's come up in recent conversations about the election and Trump's incoming administration.

In an interview with Time magazine for Trump's "Person of the Year" issue, Shannon Goodin explained why she voted for the GOP candidate instead of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In her comments, the 24-year-old had an interesting perspective, on who qualifies as "us."

"Politicians don't appeal to us," she told Time. "Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities and immigrants, but she didn't really for everyday Americans."

Journalist Soledad O'Brien tweeted a response to Goodin's comment, lamenting how minorities and people of color still aren't considered by some as "everyday Americans."

Soledad O'Brien's tweet.

The concept of "othering" minorities has a history in majority-white societies.

Social philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote about the concept of black people as the "the other" in white-dominated colonial societies in his 1952 book "Black Skin White Masks." The black author wrote that white society's constant consideration of black people as "the other" reinforced the idea that black people were inferior.

"The black man stops behaving as an actional person," Fanon wrote. "The goal of his behavior will be The Other (in the guise of the white man), for The Other alone can give him worth."

Palestinian-American author Edward Said wrote about the concept of "the other" and European colonialism is his 1978 book "Orientalism."

"Orientalism is really about the manufacture of the other, and the other is really of great convenience to oneself and it's mainly done for purposes of domination, and that knowledge and domination in the imperial context almost always go together," he said in a video interview before his death.

The literary critic perhaps sums it up best when he explained that the concept of "the other" was really about giving one group domination in society.

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