This is America

Dennis Hof, a pimp, has won the Republican primary to represent Nevada’s 36th District. In his own words, this is why he won:senate runn

“This is the new breed of politicians because of what Donald Trump has done. He’s opened that door. Before this, who would have ever elected somebody who said, on tape, ‘Grab ’em by the pussy’? Nobody ever would do that.”1

“This really is the Trump movement. People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office. Trump is the trailblazer, he is the Christopher Columbus of honest politics.”2

No, you didn’t misread that, there really is going to be a pimp in the Nevada legislature who believes that Donald Trump is the epitome of an honest politician.

Like the president, Hof is wealthy, starred on a reality show, rarely attends church, dates porn stars, often cheats on his girlfriends, brags about his sexual prowess, is addicted to Fox News, is close friends with some of Fox’s best-known hosts, is backed by Roger Stone, is being sued by the government, has been accused of sexual assault, and has gained the endorsement of at least one pastor.3 Having defeated incumbent James Oscarson in the primary, he is projected to beat school principal Lesia Romanov in the general election.

Is this America?

Air Force veteran MJ Hegar is also running for office this year. Like Hof, she is a newcomer to politics, recently published a memoir, and is running an anti-establishment and anti-corruption campaign against the incumbent. Unlike Hof…well, I’ll let her explain.

Is that America?

Contrasts like these struck me as I heard cries of “This is not America!” in response to President Trump’s decision to imprison all asylum-seekers crossing the border and thus tear children from their families. Numerous people disgusted with the policy, from newspaper editorial boards to candidates for Congress to religious leaders, have used the phrase “This is not America” to emphasize that Trump is not in line with American values when he separates families as a deterrent to future immigrants.

On the other hand, writers like Shaun King have pushed back on the idea that this is anything new to our history, pointing out that the family separation of minorities has been happening for hundreds of years in America, from slave auctions to Indian schools to internment camps to mass incarceration.4 Preachers like Erna Kim Hackett ask us to look at the ways in which Trump’s actions are a continuation of centuries of similar policies.5

What is America?

I have more to say, but that can wait. First, I just want to sit on two songs.

The 2009 #1 hit “It’s America” by Christian country artist Rodney Atkins shows an America where nice things happen, people help each other out, and everyone looks like Rodney.

The 2014 song “Welcome to America” by Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae shows America from the perspective of a Black man in poverty, a forgotten veteran, and a tired but hopeful immigrant, and suggests that the reality of America is falling short of the ideals.

Can both of these visions represent America? I’d really like to hear your thoughts in the comments, especially if you’re an American.


[1] quoted by Eric Bradner in ‘I’m riding the Trump wave. He’s Christopher Columbus,’ says Nevada pimp running for office from CNN, 25 June 2018.

[2] quoted by Reuteurs in In age of Trump, evangelicals back Dennis Hof, a self-styled top US pimp from CNBC, 22 June 2018

[3] You may assume I’m being hard on him, but reviews of The Bizzare Memoir of America’s Most Famous Pimp dispel that notion. For reasons known only to Hof, his own autobiography depicts him as greedy, jealous, obsessed with sex, and abusive to the women who work for him. A psychotherapist who Hof allowed to diagnosis him finds him to be a narcissist with no empathy for others. He has been accused by a sheriff’s deputy of having made death threats when the deputy uncovered illegal activities at his brothel during a routine license check. The deputy alleges that Hof’s economic power in the county has kept the department from investigating the threats against him or the illegal activity that spurred them.

[4] Shaun King in Separating Migrant Families Is Barbaric. It’s Also What the U.S. Has Been Doing to People of Color for Hundreds of Years for The Intercept, 24 June 2018.

[5] Erna Kim Hackett in a sermon for The Way Christian Center, 24 June 2018

4 thoughts on “This is America

  1. “Can both of these visions represent America?”


    The first video of Rodney Atkins may as well have been a Klan rally. Not one Black person was featured and yet in the video by Lecrae, he featured more than just one ‘color’ of Americans and his was more apt in describing America, such as it is.

    Screaming children torn from their parents arms, a Supreme Court that just handed down a victory for Trump in banning people from certain countries based on their religion, a woman who turned away a Trump administration puppet from her restaurant has now had to resign from a restaurant association she belonged to and cannot open her restaurant for all the confederate flags and LGBT madness out front what with people screaming at each other and getting arrested for leaving piles of chicken poop out front. That’s America. The homeless vet is America. The millions incarcerated is America. This at least was depicted in the second video. The first one was so sterile and unbelievable, I almost couldn’t get through it.

    When I read about the pimp running for public office, I thought that was taking things too far, but I was wrong. That IS indeed, America. More’s the pity. Atkins would never include that in a video about America but I feel that the other guy would. He’s more realistic and in tune with reality because he has not had ‘white privilege’ to shield him from unpleasantness, to put it mildly. Atkins can talk about high school proms and farms being America when I just read that farmers are committing suicide at alarming rates because they just cannot make ends meet.


  2. Philip

    I think the contrast of those vidoes provides a great insight into why America is so divided right now. They both are America, from very different perspectives. Unfortunately most people only experience one version, thus have no empathy or understanding of other people’s experiences. Our country is huge and diverse and any one picture of it is inevitably simplistic. Are there people that are enjoying wonderful lives thanks to the benefits America can offer? Yes. Are there others that don’t receive those benefits and instead have been beaten down by the crippling problems of America? Absolutely. Until we can widely acknowledge the complexity and differences of experience within America, it will be hard to find any unity or move forward as a country.


  3. True, and also – are there people who have been beaten down by crippling problems from extremely different communities and experiences? The fact that other people from a different community might have also faced problems much like yours, or that other people from a different community might face problems that are substantially different from the “similar” ones you’ve faced, can also be a blind spot for many.


  4. Philip

    Excellent point. It isn’t just the haves and nots that don’t see each other. America is far more diverse than just two groups.

    Liked by 1 person

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