The Mike Mullen controversy has been nothing short of a painfully obvious display of Kabuki theater by the vice chancellor’s critics. With Mullen leaving under criticism from the College Republicans at NC State, it appears the same people who downplay our most controversial president in recent memory are the same ones crying foul about the rhetoric espoused by Mullen.
The comparison between the two men is nowhere close to a perfect analogy, but it does highlight the hypocrisy of the situation. One of these men carelessly tweets highly divisive messages and creates alienating policies that match his thoughtless, cruel rhetoric, further fracturing the community; and the other is Mike Mullen.
I do agree with my counterparts in their disapproval of Mullen’s use of the term “redneck.” The term limits the capacity for open dialogue to occur and is just plain offensive. But the same can be said about referring to developing nations as “shithole countries.” I get that conservative students only have the power to hold Mullen accountable, but it seems hypocritical at best, and in bad faith at worst, that Trump receives no real condemnation in the conservative sphere for his language.
“One of the lines that has been touted by conservatives as a defining principle of their worldview has been that “facts don’t care about your feelings.” Well, in the case of Mullen, it would appear that conservatives have completely abandoned this axiom…” and instead adopted an almost entirely feelings-based critique of Mullen.
When President Trump rose to political stardom in his infamous campaign announcement speech, he likened Mexican immigrants to “rapists” and “criminals” in a fashion somewhat similar to Mullen’s tweet about the GOP being the party of “neo-Nazis, the KKK, and all manner of Alt-right crazies.” The most notable difference between these two claims: One has been proven to be statistically false while the other is backed by evidence.
Trump’s claim that Mexico is sending the United States an influx of rapists and criminals is just unfounded. Studies point to both undocumented and legal immigrants having significantly lower rates of crime than the native-born population of the U.S.
Specific examples can be pointed toward that reinforce Mullen’s claim. A research article found in Political Science Quarterly observed that racism and sexism were strongly correlated with support for Trump in 2016. Richard Spencer, the organizer of the Unite the Right protest and leading member of the alt-right, praised the president, saying that “Charlottesville wouldn’t have occurred without Trump.” Furthermore, there is a clear correlation between some elements of far-right ideology and the Republican platform. Naturally, these extremist right-wing groups will gravitate toward the GOP when the party supports the same policies they do, such as limiting legal immigration, enacting the blatantly Islamophobic travel ban or suppressing the votes of racial minorities.
Mullen’s claim, of course, is not given anywhere close to the same level of charitable reading as those of Trump’s by conservatives. Basic reading comprehension distinguishes Mullen’s claim that the “GOP is the party of the NRA, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and all manner of Alt-right crazies” from the claim that all Republicans are neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The former is a demonstrated truism, while the latter is a dishonest interpretation of Mullen’s words.
Perhaps it hurts the feelings of this administration’s supporters to hear their moral turpitude called out, but for the rest of us, it is just having a basic understanding of inductive reasoning. Mullen, like most others with a fairly objective worldview, took note of the abysmal conditions this administration is putting asylum seekers through, the calls to send four congresswomen “back” to their supposed countries of origin, the equivocating about who was to blame between neo-Nazis and protestors at Charlottesville and came to its logical conclusion: Supporters of these policies have a “lack of ethical values.”
It also appears that the feelings of conservatives were hurt by Mullen’s other inductively reasoned statement: that President Trump is “complicit in the violence in our country” because of his use of racist language and hate speech. It really is not difficult to see the connection between Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric about the Hispanic “invasion” at the southern border and the El Paso shooter’s hateful manifesto in which he echoed this very same rhetoric. Is Mullen not allowed to point out this obvious connection because of conservative fragility?
Outside of his derogatory use of “redneck,” Mike Mullen has truly done nothing wrong. The only offense he appears to be guilty of is freely expressing himself in a way that did not appeal to the sensibilities of conservative students.