Danny Westneat writes in the Seattle Times:
The news that Trump supporters are coming out of the woodwork around here, printed in my last column, pretty much horrified everybody (mission accomplished!).
Liberals were upset that it’s happening at all.
“I am appalled and depressed that anyone should contribute to the campaign of Trump,” one Seattle reader wrote.
“You didn’t explore why these people would back this bigoted con man,” another commented. “It’s a question that nags at me. What do they see in him?”
But many conservatives were hopping mad that I wrote about it at all — at least that I named a few big-dollar local Trump donors, and linked to the public Federal Election Commission (FEC) database of Trump’s election donations.
“You sir are the least ethical journalist I have ever heard of. Your article giving the names and other personal information about Trump donors is not only shameful but it’s totally illegal,” one wrote.
Said another: “Perhaps you were thinking they’ll be ridiculed by friends and colleagues … It’s a doxing, a public shaming. I hope you get sued.”
And another: “Your efforts cloaked as ‘journalism’ are abhorrent. You are the philosophical embodiment of the fascist.”
Yowza — that’s a whole lot of drama and grievance for an article on campaign donations, the type of which we’ve been writing for going on forever, or at least since the sunshine laws passed nearly 50 years ago.
The premise of the article was hardly groundbreaking: President Donald Trump’s doing better getting local people to write him checks than he did the last go around. The proof was in the FEC records, which I linked to (and which I highly recommend everybody check out, for all the candidates).
But for it to be public shaming, that only works if you actually did something shameful. Many of you seem to be acknowledging with your vehement protests that donating to this president might be a bit, uh, deplorable.
Luckily for gobsmacked lefties and outraged righties alike, one of the six Trump donors I supposedly doxxed and shamed called me up. Turns out he loved it.
“It was great to see my name in there,” he said. “I’m proud to support President Trump 100 percent. I can’t think of any reason I would want to hide that.”
See — how hard is that?
Hossein Khorram, 58, is an Eastside developer, refugee from Iran and practicing Muslim who donated the maximum to Trump, $5,600, in May. He said he’s been out and proud for Trump back to the last election (photos of him wearing MAGA hats on his own blog confirm this).
He said he’s never been harassed for his views — though a campaign office for Trump in Seattle where he volunteered did have rocks thrown at it.
Khorram agreed to answer the burning questions of liberal Seattle. He said he backs Trump first because of his foreign policy (he loves how tough he is on Iran), and second because of his tax-and-regulation cutting.
As for the president’s often outrageous tweets or false comments, Khorram said it gets blown out of proportion.
“Yes, some of his facts and figures are off, but he’s not a facts and figures man,” Khorram said. “He’s instinctual. On his tweeting, there I wish he’d be more cautious.”
What about how he calls refugees coming here an “invasion” — including in ads paid for with contributions from donors like you, I asked Khorram.
“That doesn’t bother me either,” he said. “He’s not being racist, he’s talking about a competition for scarce resources, and that we can’t have unlimited immigration. The language he uses is just a marketing tool. He’s spicing it up because that language resonates with some blue-collar supporters.”
Likewise, Khorram, himself once a refugee, said it didn’t bother him when Trump told a formerly refugee congresswoman to go back to her own country — even though it’s a textbook racist or nativist thing to say.
Only if you took it at face value, Khorram objected.
“He didn’t mean she should actually go back. He meant that she should focus on America first. That’s what he’s signaling to people like me.”
This is a perfect illustration of that great insight about Trump: His supporters take him seriously but not literally, while his critics take him literally but not seriously. To an unusual degree, his words are not being received across America — are not being translated — in a common language.
Well, I have no illusions this column will please anyone any more than the last one didn’t. But I hope it lays down a marker against this nonsense that reporting on campaign contributors is somehow unethical or dangerous. It’s the opposite: Sunshine is essential to democracy. If we can’t debate politics or be transparent about it, if we let who’s influencing it slip into the dark, well that sounds like the philosophical embodiment of the fascist to me.