An interview with the Republican Nominee for Congress of the United States
For the last month Seth Grossman, who is an attorney and the nominee of a major party for Congress, has been getting a lot of press for comments he made to the effect that diversity was “crap” and “un-American.”
Actually, not comments to that effect: Those were Seth’s actual words. “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.”
Seth also said that diversity was “an excuse by Democrats, communists and socialists, basically, to say that we’re not all created equal—that some people, if somebody is lesser qualified, they will get a job anyway or they’ll get into college anyway because of the tribe that they’re with, what group, what box they fit into.”
Those of us in the supposedly liberal media struggle to address comments like these, not because they’re so edgy or surprising or anything but because they’re so unsurprising and acceptable across large swaths of polite society we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Cambridge Analytica built a whole PR strategy around “race realism” on the theory that it was easier to tap racial resentment in a Facebook post than to explain how 400 years of colonialism and White supremacy never really ended, or to acknowledge that the people who created that “all-created-equal” idea owned other human beings, Africans, whom they did not regard as all that equal.
I called Seth a few weeks ago not to talk about diversity but to ask about a vile piece of agitprop that was posted on the Facebook page of Liberty & Prosperity, the discussion group where Seth was executive director before he left to run for Congress.
The post showed a picture of someone (supposedly George Soros) in an SS uniform, describing the supposed ecstasies that Soros experienced during his time as a Nazi paramilitary (Soros was never a Nazi paramilitary) while “rounding up Jews and confiscating their property” (Soros never rounded up Jews or confiscated their property).
“This man was making policy with Hillary Clinton. And some of you think Trump is dangerous. Wow,” it said.
The post was later retracted (partially) and Seth, to his credit, said it was improper to label any Jew, let alone a child as Soros had been, a collaborator simply for having survived the Holocaust, but this attitude appeared to set him at odds with some of his fellow L&P’ers, who maintained that Soros was indeed a collaborator, “sub human” and “scum” even if that had been the wrong guy in their Facebook meme. But hey, diversity of ideas and all that.
I thought the post cast doubt on Seth’s ability to tell fact from crude fiction, or at least suggested a willingness to entertain the violent fantasies of his political base if that’s what made them happy, and I wanted to ask Seth about this, but the conversation devolved, predictably, into a set of impasses (Seth’s word), where I’d ask some question Seth didn’t seem to like, and he’d respond with some variation on the theme: It sounds like you don’t need me. You know what you’re going to write anyway.
What I think Seth meant was that he knew what I was going to write, or rather, he knew what he’d do if he didn’t like it: call us “progressives” (his favorite putdown) label it “fake news” and move on.
But that’s not really how this was supposed to work. We are biased creatures, but you don’t get to imagine our biases for us. Transparency is a core principal.
I would not have imagined, for instance, that Seth would compare the plight of Paul Manafort, the millionaire lobbyist and former chairman of the Trump campaign, who is in prison, with the plight of Central American immigrants whose children are being stored in cages by the Federal government, but here’s what Seth said when I asked him about the Trump administration policy of family-separation at the border:
“Whenever anyone breaks the law, you know, you go to jail. You go to jail and you have children, your children are separated from you. I’m sure Paul Manafort got separated from his children when he got arrested.”
Paul Manafort was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and false statements, all felonies, unlike the Central American immigrants, who have not been indicted, and are being detained, indefinitely, on the presumption that they committed the misdemeanor crime of illegal entry.
But Manafort wasn’t put in jail after the first rounds of indictments, unlike the migrants who were put in jails without due process at all. Manafort was only jailed after being indicted a third time, on charges of witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice, after he got to appear, with a lawyer, before a judge who revoked his house arrest.
Even then, Manafort wasn’t separated from his children, who are adults and can call him on the telephone, in the same way that Central American immigrants have been separated from their children, some of whom are babies, some of whom have already been lost effectively by the federal government.
So, no, I would not have thought them comparable situations, but I’m not running for Congress as the candidate of a major party that has lost its absolute mind.
Likewise, I did not expect to agree with Seth on the issue of diversity, which has generated so much controversy, so much of it helpful to Seth. But when I told Seth I understood his comments had to do with “equality of outcome” (quotas for hiring, admissions, etc.) rather than “equality of opportunity” (everyone gets a fair shake in God’s green America), Seth said I had understood him correctly.
When I asked Seth if we actually had equal opportunity in America, Seth said no, and I agreed.
Here’s what Seth said when I asked if we had equal opportunity in America:
“No. We never did. Newcomers were always kept out. The American genius is that people can overcome it.”
“The best way to overcome discrimination,” Seth continued, “is for disadvantaged people to do better work for less money until they are accepted, and that’s what my grandfather did and that’s what every wave of immigrants to America did because…when people see an opportunity to make money on the talent and skill and hard work of other people they will pay the money to get good work.”
Astute readers will quibble that African-Americans are unlike other “waves of immigrants” (they were brought here in chattel slavery) or that “better work for less money” is not a solution to discrimination (of course it’s the definition of discrimination), but Seth said within 50 years of the Civil War, the ills of slavery had largely been overcome (at least in the North).
“The mess you see today is not the result of slavery,” Seth said. “The disadvantage you see now is something new created by Democrats in the 1960s.”
In Seth’s alternate history, the “Blacks” (his term) were doing great in the 1920s when 95% of them were Republicans (the Republican party of the 20s is unlike that of today). Then FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society came along and African-Americans became “conditioned” to see “see themselves as victims” and “depend on the government.”
In fairness, Seth thinks the New Deal (and probably the Great Society) hurt white people too, but they escaped the clutches of the welfare state, an odd result, since the New Deal was devised primarily to solve the problem of White unemployment and helped some African-Americans, incidentally, despite lavish efforts to exclude them. Yet they were ensnared disproportionately. Why?
I didn’t get to ask, but it doesn’t really matter. To accept Seth’s view, you only have to ignore Jim Crow, sharecropping, segregated housing, poll taxes, segregated schools, lynching, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration and the 2008 financial crisis, which disproportionately wiped out African-American wealth, then accept the premise that four centuries of chattel slavery were really undone in fifty years, allowing you to locate the source of the “mess” in the excess benevolence of the Democrats.
But we agree at least that the disadvantage is real. What’s Seth solution?
“The free market has a way of working things out.”
In other words, he has no solution, which makes it weird that it’s become a signature issue. But more on that later.
Next up, the Mueller probe. Naturally the same law enforcement apparatus that is unduly lax on Central American immigrants is overly enthusiastic about Russian election meddling.
Seth echoed the most extreme claims of President Trump, that Barack Obama used “government intelligence” (Seth’s phrase) to spy on the Trump campaign.
This surprised me since not even Trey Gowdy endorses the president’s #Spygate conspiracies anymore, but it’s hard to keep up with the latest meanderings.
“You somehow think that there’s something to the Mueller story,” Seth said.
I think the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—representing the consensus view of the FBI, CIA and NSA—published a report on Russian election interference (they interfered), after which the president fired his FBI Director and announced on national television that he’d done so to end the fake Russia hoax witch hunt.
You can accept that stimulating fact pattern or decide, as the president seems to have done, that the DNI’s conclusion was illegitimate and politically motivated to begin with, which: fine. But that seemed like an extreme view to me, for a conservative Republican.
I said it seemed like an extreme view to me.
“To you,” Seth said. “To you it does.”
“To me, right.”
“But to me it’s right out there for anyone to see. You don’t want to believe it, but there’s no doubt in my mind.”
It’s not that I’m so trusting of our intelligence services, but I’m aware that, historically, the FBI has not been a hotbed of progressive activism.
He told a story about Jonathan Pollard, a former Naval intel officer convicted of selling NSA secrets to the Israelis. And maybe the Chinese. Whose conviction was supported by notorious libtards like Don Rumsfeld.
Polllard should have done a year in prison, max, Seth said, but he ended up doing 30 after getting stitched up by the CIA.
“In my opinion, every single thing, dirty trick, they did on Jonathan Pollard is exactly what the same people are doing to Donald Trump right now.”
Pollard was back in the 80s though. Surely that must predate the Obama Deepstate, right?
“What I’m saying is it’s the same career CIA people advancing their own personal agendas, successfully,” Seth said.
The President said it’s a small cadre at the top, but his story changes constantly.
“And it would have worked except Trump happened to win the election and it messed everything up.”
I’m still hazy on the merits of a conspiracy to destroy Trump by letting him win the election, appoint his own Attorney General, appoint a Deputy AG, fire the FBI Director, appoint a replacement FBI Director and then spring the trap of a special counsel investigation but what do I know.
“So you think the FBI and the intel community have been politicized?” I said.
“They have been politicized by Obama, and it’s almost like being in a banana republic. It’s banana republic stuff.”
“Haven’t people pled guilty?” I said.
“Yeah, like, they’ve pled guilty to Martha-Stewart stuff. Process crimes.”
“That seems like a crime though, what Martha Stewart did.”
(Securities fraud, conspiracy, obstruction).
“People crossing the border have not committed a crime, yet. Why should they be punished but…”
“Look, you don’t need me to do this story,” Seth said. “It looks like you know what you’re going to write about. But yeah, they are committing a crime. The crime is crossing the border without permission.”
“It’s a misdemeanor, right? Ten-dollar fine? And isn’t the idea that they should have due process? Asylum-seekers can present themselves at the border…”
“Yeah, they’ve been coached by their Democrat lawyers. In other words, asylum is when you’re fleeing for your life, right? You’re in danger if you get sent back across the border. So how could someone crossing into the United States say their life is in danger in Mexico, if Mexico let them walk 700 miles to get to the United States?”
So, “They’re committing immigration fraud,” Seth said.
“Aren’t they entitled to due process?”
“So, isn’t it amazing that Congress doesn’t give Trump the money to rapidly process these claims? Look I know where you’re coming from. You can write the story however you want…but I think you’re wrong and I think my job during this campaign is to persuade most voters that you are wrong and Trump is right on this issue.”
At one point Seth said, “It’s called asymmetrical warfare, where people who want to destroy our country are using children as human shields believing that Americans have so much compassion we will let our compassion outweigh common sense.”
“You were talking about law a second ago, and how important it was but then in the case of people pleading guilty under the Mueller investigation that doesn’t seem like an important…”
“I’m telling you that all the people indicted…if they were not associated with Trump, I think you agree, that nobody would care what Manafort did in 2005.”
“I think we’ve been ignoring a lot of white collar crime for a long time,” I said.
“So, if Mueller was looking for white-collar crime, I think the Clinton Foundation has a whole bucket of stuff that would interest someone interested in white-collar crime. Don’t you think so?”
“I don’t think she’s president, and I don’t think you’re running as a Democrat.”
“Ok. Alright well listen, so I think we’re at an impasse here.”
“What about Michael Flynn?” I said. “He had a very important position and he pled guilty.”
“Look, I’m not going to convince you. You’re not going to convince me…” Seth said.
“That’s, like, a very convenient attitude to have, that somebody who’s asking questions you don’t like is not persuadable.”
“They’re not questions,” Seth said.
“Do you think it’s not germane that the head of the National Security Council [sic] pled guilty to crimes?”
“They’re process crimes,” Seth said.
“Lying to the FBI, right? That’s not a serious crime?”
“I have no idea why he pled guilty…”
“You think this interest in holding officials in the Trump campaign accountable is bad faith or something?”
“Alright look. You don’t see things that are obvious to me. And I don’t know how to tell you that the Mueller investigation is not a real investigation. It’s a witch hunt, just like President Trump said.”
So, to recap: Lying to the FBI is not a serious crime when Martha Stewart does it. Central American immigrants—most of whom don’t see a judge let alone a lawyer to coach them on Democrat talking points—are exploiting due-process protections. And we should de-politicize the FBI by listening to Donald Trump (the subject of its investigation)
Seth said I don’t see things that are obvious to him. But for what it’s worth it’s obvious to me that a picture of George Soros in an SS uniform is probably hateful propaganda, given that Soros was an actual Jew whose people were gassed by SS officers, like the one in the picture. And if you can’t do two seconds of research before spreading that propaganda, how seriously should we really take your musings on the New Deal, the Blacks, the Muller investigation or the vagaries of immigrant crime?
Seth said the Soros post (which he didn’t write, it should be repeated) slipped through the cracks as he was leaving L&P to run for Congress. He said the picture was all over the Internet and came up during one of their breakfasts, where it was rejected instantly as an embarrassment.
Except it wasn’t rejected instantly. It was posted to the Liberty & Prosperity Facebook page in mid-February and there it stayed, until a few weeks ago, people commenting on it approvingly.
“But we’re not afraid,” Seth said. (You’re the majority party nominee.)
“The alternative of not discussing these things openly is that people privately think things that are wrong.”
But people said things publicly that were pretty wrong—Soros was a Nazi mass murderer—so I’m not sure this alternative is so hot either.
“We believe that the best way to deal with fake news or false information or fake history is open discussion.”
But “fake news” is Seth’s euphemism for the mainstream media, and it wasn’t CNN or the New York Times spreading alt-right conspiracy bullshit. It was Liberty & Prosperity. Moreover they didn’t deal with it until someone from Route 40 (the mainstream media? God help us) called to ask about it.
The nonsense does start to feed off itself.
Seth says the diversity tape helped his candidacy, but he would know best. In the weeks since the story broke, he’s doubled-down repeatedly in other news outlets and touted the backlash in fundraising requests.
Seth says the tape helped, “Because it brought attention to the fact that most Americans, I think, still believe that, in America, every individual should be judged by his talent, character and hard work, and not by how many diversity boxes he can check off on their resume.”
I think it helped because it allows Seth to present himself as a member of an oppressed underclass and the “media” is trying to dismiss him, which only proves he’s a threat to establishment. (I think he is the establishment).
Anyway, I disagree with Seth’s premise that he’s treated unfairly by the press. If anything, the coverage has been dressed in an idiom of neutrality, that is the opposite of objectivity and works in Seth’s favor.
Salon.com for instance (not exactly Right-wing radio) called Seth’s diversity crap “controversial.”
It is not. It is ignorant, crudely provocative and popular but not controversial.
The Gannett papers let Seth say he was taken out of context (he didn’t say how), then quoted bland, bromides from prominent Democrats and let Mike DuHaime, Governor Bridgegate’s top strategist, spin the issue as a horserace story.
“Calling Democrats socialists and communists” is no way to win over “moderate and conservative Democrats in South Jersey,” DuHaime said.
As if the real victims were Steve Sweeney’s ironworkers.
Then there are ideological allies like Paul Mulshine, who wrote, “A lot of people are outraged” that Grossman was caught on tape making those comments.
“I’m outraged that they’re outraged.”
Anyway, Seth agrees we don’t have equal opportunity in America. So what do all those judged-by-your-talent-and-character platitudes really amount to, without a level playing field? So much fluff in the end.
And if your solutions to the “mess” are “free market” and “better work for less money” maybe you’re not interested in solutions. You’re interested in grievance politics from the other side.
And there’s considerable evidence for that interpretation as well.
In July 2016 Seth posted on Facebook that then-President Obama had “cleverly provoked” racists (my word) into making an issue of his birth certificate, which had never been an issue for other presidents, so he could ridicule them “when they asked reasonable questions about it.”
That ridicule didn’t hurt Donald Trump, the Birther-in-Chief. Why not double down on it?
In June 2015, Seth suggested Obama was a secret Muslim in a post that showed a man with a beard in front of a building in a country we have probably invaded.
“All I want to do is move to your country, rape our women [sic], bomb your buses, riot in your streets, and demand that you accept my religion,” the man (fictional) said (not really).
“Why can’t you be more tolerant?”
“***SHARE IF YOU UNDERSTAND THIS IS OBAMA’S ‘RELIGION’***”
(Seth told CNN he didn’t “recall knowingly posting that Barack Obama was a Muslim.”)
December 2016: Seth says Obama created the racism he faced as president, having “perfected the technique of deliberately and skillfully poking conservatives, Republicans, and Christians in the eye, and then ridiculing and attacking them when they cried out in pain and anger.”
March 27, 2016: Seth again. Just logged on to announce, “Islam is a cancer.”
Have a great day!
February 2014: Seth sees hidden progressive messaging in Coca-Cola ads and Axe deodorant ads that ran during the Super Bowl.
“Were they done as favors to the Obama regime in exchange for waiver [sic] or special treatment for some federal law, permit or tax?” he asks.
Or were the executive themselves secret “progressives” (scare quotes in the original) using “shareholder money to pursue their personal political agendas?”
December 26, 2015: Just dropped in to say, “Kwanza is a phony holiday invented in the 1960’s by black racists…”
October 2014: Ebola is spreading across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and Seth logs on to observe “progressives” (scare quotes in the original) killed millions during the AIDS crisis through overconcern with privacy rights and because wealthy bath-house owners donated money to “progressive” causes.
“Don’t let ‘progressives’ and their ‘political correctness’ needlessly kill millions of Americans again. Demand the IMMEDIATE end to all commercial flights to and from Ebola infected areas immediately. Demand the IMMEDIATE enforcement of immigration laws at our borders.”
November 2015: Seth posts a gory photo of the inside of the Bataclan theater in Paris, captioned (by Nick somethingorother) “This is what Barrack Hussein Obama has been promoting, funding and defending for seven years.” Seth calls for us to “deport illegals” (most of the attackers were citizens).
December 30, 2014 Seth logs on to share a story from American Renaissance called “Confessions of a Public Defender” which is billed as a first-hand report “about the reality of race.”
“Oy vay! What so many people, black, white and Hispanic, whisper to me privately but never dare say out loud publicly,” Seth says.
What are these whispered truths?
From the article:
“Most blacks are unable to speak English well.”
“Hispanics usually commit two kinds of crime: sexual assault on children and driving under the influence. Blacks commit many violent crimes but very few sex crimes.”
“As a young lawyer, I believed the official story that blacks are law abiding, intelligent, family-oriented people, but are so poor they must turn to crime to survive. Actual black behavior was a shock to me.”
“The media invariably sugarcoat black behavior.”
“For blacks, the courthouse is like a carnival. They all seem to know each other: hundreds and hundreds each day, gossiping, laughing loudly, waving, and crowding the halls.”
“They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
(Seth told Media-ite, “I did not and do not agree with any of its claims, and never visited the website. I believe I got the post from [Allen] West who I thought was pointing out ignorance, hatred, and bigotry in both races, and the need to address them through open discussion.”)
Then he went on Twitter to say Media-ite had called him a white supremacist (it did not) and declare that suggestion fake news (which he created).
Seth says since he’s won the nomination he’s “faced the same lies and hate that President Trump deals with every day” (compared I suppose with the truth and love at the core of his message).
He’s outraged that you’re outraged, in other words.
But I’m not especially outraged, for whatever that’s worth. I am tired, a little bit, of two-bit charlatans courting outrage and then thinking the blowback validates their nonsense.
I’m tired of worrying every time there’s a mass shooting or explosion that the perpetrator will have the wrong skin color or wrong religion and be used as a pretext to further dismantle the Constitution.
I worry a disease outbreak or crisis will become pretext for targeting the usual suspects, because hey don’t let “progressives” and “political correctness” kill millions of Americans again (btw we’re taking away your healthcare).
I worry about an establishment political party that controls the levers of power and all three branches of government (Seth says Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer really control Congress) but needs to position itself as somehow not in control (because tax cuts for private-jet owners are not anti-establishment).
And I worry about the dozens of other urgent problems we face but don’t have the bandwidth for because we’re dealing with this sh*t show 24-7.
Anyway. Seth will probably get clobbered in November (by a conservative) but then he probably didn’t expect to win the primary in the first place.
In the meantime, this is our reality. You’re either cool with it or you can stand for something positive. I hope you do the latter but I’m biased.