In my last post, OF TWISTED WORDS => NATIONALISM, I had a couple of commenters who insist that our president, Donald Trump, is racist. I adamantly objected, but upon reflection I wonder. After all, who would be the best judge of the matter? Suddenly concerned I did a bit of research.

Conventional wisdom stipulates: It takes a thief to catch a thief ( According to, that’s a mid-seventeenth century proverb. In the seventeenth century they put it this way.

Set a thief to catch a thief.

What’s that proverb telling us? Here is what the “Cambridge Dictionary” says.

used to mean that one dishonest person can guess what another dishonest person might do points out, here, that “It takes a thief to catch a thief” is equivalent to this phrase.

It takes one to know one.

That doesn’t sound good! So now I am a bit confused. Would you take the word of a thief that a seemingly honest person is a thief? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Then why should we take the word of a Democrat that a Republican is a racist?

Still, it is obvious that at one time Democrats were really good at racism. Owning black slaves makes that kind of obvious, but now? Now we just have this dog whistle thing that only experts in racism, Democrats, claim to be able to hear. So how would a Republican know if Trump is a racist? We can’t hear dog whistles. Human beings are not even suppose to hear those things. Yet Democrats say they do.🤔

So I wonder? Do Democrats really hear dog whistles, or do they just think they do? Democrats are kind of wacky. Are they really the experts in racism they claim to be? If it takes one to know one, that cannot be a good thing.

23 thoughts on “IT TAKES A THIEF

  1. Imagine going to school surrounded by dripping condescension everywhere, just as a lifestyle to “combat oppression”.
    “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do math, Gus! You sure can!”
    “This isn’t written in a way you can understand it, obviously…we’ll give you some oppression points to even things up…”
    It’s the anti-success recipe.
    It’s the recipe for nurturing slights.
    It’s the most racist tactic in the world, but it gets some people votes.

      1. I think the Baltimore emergency rooms are where they take military doctors to get experience treating battle trauma injuries before sending them into combat zones. The injuries are very similar, and they’re sure to see lots and lots of them.

    1. Liz,

      I agree with that example? Everything can go too far.

      Like all these big questions, maybe it’s the pilot in me, but I try to take the 40,000 feet perspective, which is always more ambiguous than ground level anecdotes, but it also keeps us from getting lost in often conflicting particulars and minutiae.

      What are the sociological and historical factors that make Gus more likely to fall behind in math? What kind of neighborhood does he live in? Is his Mom a single working Mom or are both his parents working one or more jobs, coming home exhausted with no time or energy to help Gus with his homework?

      I’m an old man but when I was a child where I live now, we had separate substandard schools for blacks, separate ghetto neighborhoods, separate bathrooms, separate lesser everything. We had a cast system with a second lower class of humans. Even by the time I was in Junior High, and the law and the courts had ordered desegregation, when black staged a swimin at the local beach, they were beaten with baseball bats by the the self proclaimed good Christian white citizens here, and the local police just stood by and watched. How’s that for the anecdotal ground view?

      Back out to 40,000 feet, after hundreds of years of human bondage and Jim Crow, how many generations should it take for us become color blind (if that is even humanly possible)? When will we actually recognize the color of crime and ignorance as as a context to our prejudices as a continuing closed cycle, something imposed rather than inherent? How many generations should it take for the sufferers of that inhumanity to recover? Is their a perfect black and white formula for advancing that resilience? How much does the community that beat those black beach goers owe to bring back to some just equilibrium the children and grandchildren of their victims who unquestionably still suffer from the lasting invidious vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow through increased crime, imprisonment, and economic inequality? What would Jesus have us do for our neighbors? Even with charitable motives, can we go too far and just institutionalize dependence rather than incentivize a competitive ambition?

      What about MLK’s “fierce regency of now” got Gus. Gus only has one life, not generations of lives to waste. How hard is it realistically for Gus to pull himself with bootstraps that his parents and grandparents were told did not even exist for them?

      I can see where your anecdote may spark outrage at its obvious stupidity. When I peer down from a blurry 40,000 feet, I see less absolutist, incremental solutions may be being ignored by ideological extremists on both the Left and the Right. And forgive me if I’m wrong, but I see you as more of a pragmatist than an extremist for either side. Perhaps, however, I may suggest that you focus may be too much on the well meaning, but destructive stupidity on the Left and not enough on the cynicism that can lead to callous cruelty on the Right.

      1. Autocorrect? That’s “fierce urgency of now for Gus”. If I could spell, I could have been somebody.

      2. @tsalmon

        We don’t hurt each other because of racial, sex, or class differences. Those are just excuses. We hurt each other because our pride demands it.

        Take the time to read James 4. We don’t come up with good solutions for our social problems because we spend so much time fighting over blame and who deserves what. That’s why we even argue over who is the biggest victim. It is becoming a joke.

        Poverty will always be with us because some people will always be more capable or just plain lucky. Not fair? We don’t even have the capacity to define fairness, much less make things fair. We are not God.

        Getting government involved just creates incentives for feuding over a big pot of money. It doesn’t help the poor. If someone cannot help themselves, they won’t be able to work the system so that they can get the help they need from the government. That’s why we have ridiculous private companies and charities devoted to helping people get their benefits from the government. Government is that inept.

        Why is government inept? Government does not tolerate competitors. Without the goad of competition, we eventually lose focus, forget our purpose. We make whatever we are suppose to be doing about us instead of those we are suppose to serve. The politicians start buying votes. The bureaucracy starts feathering their nests.

        Instead calling those who disagree racists, why don’t you go back to the drawing board and come up with a better idea?

      3. Well TSalmon,
        that was a thoughtful post. Not sure I have the time to give it a considered response (after all, a real response would probably take a book, it’s a deep subject).

        Let’s walk back in history for a moment.
        You’ve mentioned its warts, and what you said is true.
        Last week I took a tour of an old mine in Georgetown.
        It was post civil war, late 1800s. Lighting dynamite in the mine shaft was the job of children around eight years old. They used children because they were small and could get into smaller areas, and also…they were expendable, unskilled labor.
        History is replete with very bad deals.
        What do folks say about the people coming from those conditions but have never risen out of poverty today (assuming they lived to have progeny, black lung usually took them out early)?
        They call them dumb hillbillies and such (especially if they like Trump).

        DNA is inherited, history is not. I support what works. If liberal policies worked for underprivileged minorities, Detroit and Chicago would not look like they do now…we’ve had decades to view how this social experiment works.

        I’ll just add.
        From a graduate at a top tier University, a couple of years back:
        I was at my graduation last weekend, and the commencement address was basically about twenty minutes of vitriolic insults directed at Trump.
        And in between burying my head in my friend’s shoulder in discomfort and laughing nervously, I was thinking about the family of this guy in my class.
        He’s the first person in his family to go to college.
        He drove an hour every day to go to a somewhat better high school because there was an epidemic of gang violence at his local school.
        Against the odds, he did well, and got into college, where he has continued to get good grades and play sports and generally do things that make parents proud.
        His family is not well off.
        They’re Mexican-American. And they’re Trump supporters.
        Yeah, I’m kind of confused too. But they honestly are.
        (Not even reluctant Republicans supporting Trump–they voted for him in the primary. His aunt owns a Make America Great Again cap.)
        And all I could think about was how happy they must have been to be attending their son’s graduation from one of the best universities in the world [citation needed], only to have that happiness turn to bewilderment and anger as everyone around them cheered a series of caustic attacks against them and their values.
        The message couldn’t have been clearer: “You don’t belong here.”
        My mom thought this speech was So Courageous.
        When I suggested that it might have been more courageous to say something that not everyone there agreed with, she replied, “the students maybe, but a lot of the parents looked unhappy.”
        Seventy percent of the parents there had family incomes over six figures. (More, probably, since low-income parents are less likely to attend graduation.) A lot of them are members of the self-perpetuating intellectual/economic elite. This probably isn’t true of the few Trump supporters among them.
        So if we are going to single them out for judgment, force them to account for their support for an “infantile,” “bullying,” “proto-fascist” “charlatan”…can it not be on the day of their kids’ graduation?

        “Callous cruelty” is as callous cruelty does.

        1. Liz,

          Nice anecdote. I bet I can come up with as many examples of overplay on the Left as you can, especially from supposedly “woke” college students and their professors and administrators who fear them. Is it really equivalent though? Admit it, what you perhaps enjoy most about Trump and the Right wing pundits is when they slam liberal Democrats in the most hateful terms possible. For example, what is it with all this sneering at crime infested cities, like every black child there somehow deserves what he gets? That will teach those liberals? It reminds me of the whole “rapture” movement – how sick does a Christian have to be to smile smugly and an wishfully for the suffering of those supposedly lesser souls left behind for the apocalypse? Ick!

          Neither the inner city black child nor the dirt poor rural white child of the drug infested West Virginia coal mine country deserves the plight they inherited.

          So let’s get back to 40,000 feet. Other than caricatures of of the over sensitive products of helicopter parents and stories of outrage from the 10 percent of brown and black folk who anachronistically love Trump, what is your practical Christian answer? Were we supposed to leave those children to return to the tender mercies of coal mine operators? Should Jim Crow have continued? Since government in some form was the salvation of both the trapped black share cropper and the white child dynamite igniter, what are we to do with their children and grand children trapped in a cycle of poverty that was engendered by impoverished desperation in the one case and forced servitude on the other? As much as I love a good metaphor, do you have anything besides snarky anecdotes?

          1. Admit it, what you perhaps enjoy most about Trump and the Right wing pundits is when they slam liberal Democrats in the most hateful terms possible. For example, what is it with all this sneering at crime infested cities, like every black child there somehow deserves what he gets? That will teach those liberals?

            Hm. I had to look back at what I wrote after reading the above.
            What I said: “I support what works. If liberal policies worked for underprivileged minorities, Detroit and Chicago would not look like they do now…we’ve had decades to view how this social experiment works.”
            Not sure how or where I expressed glee and sneering.
            I’m just making an observation that should be evident to any casual observer of the obvious interested in cause and effect. I could’ve used Alamogordo NM but fewer people are familiar with it.

            As much as I love a good metaphor, do you have anything besides snarky anecdotes?

            I do know what doesn’t work for the advancement anyone. Pity.
            Policies based on the empty hand-wringing “I care so much” virtue signaling of the Ivory Tower looney crowd.
            What do you think about Trump’s prison reform?
            Under Trump, black business ownership is up tremendously, an unemployment very low (everything is relative).
            Looking at results, I think he is doing a good job.
            If you think he’s doing poorly, please cite a leader with better results.
            As a side note, the replacement of the family with government is the main problem and that won’t be solved any time soon. It is not just a minority problem, but it started there and remains worst there.

            As another side note:
            People succeed when they are given equal opportunity (which doesn’t mean equality of result…no one is equal, we’re all individuals with our own set of unique circumstances). Look at the celebrity children. They’ve been handed everything in life, and the vast majority are a mess.
            Remember the Paul Harvey writeup about “Things I wish for you” (to his grandkids) The ending summed it up:
            “These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work, and happiness.”
            Aren’t we (as the core of our character) defined not by our hard times, but how we overcame them?

            Our family hero du jour is David Goggins.
            He wrote: “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds”

          2. @Liz

            That’s a great reply. tsalmon needs to be reminded to debate the issues, not the imperfections his opponents. Unless his object is to prove Liberal Democrats are better than Conservatives, he is wasting his time. If his object is to prove Liberal Democrats are better than Conservatives, he is still wasting his time. We don’t debate people to improve them. We improve each other by setting a better example for each other.

          3. Liz,

            I like your answer. Really? I think we may disagree on the facts sometimes, but oddly, I think we are pretty close on political philosophy. I don’t disagree that much with you that the well meaning nonsense of the Left often simply doesn’t work, and even exacerbates things. The question is what does work.

            One of the continuing debates that I have with Tom is whether or not actual progress is possible. Citing your own example, we don’t actually have young boys crawling into tight spaces risking their hopeless lives planting dynamite. You are not crippled by polio. I and Tom, sons of an Air Force Master Sargent and a mother who never finished high school, both have graduate degrees, amazing careers and were both able to retire in relative comfort, something unheard of only a moment ago in history. I could go on literally for hundreds of pages showing that average opportunities, not only in this country but around the world, have progressed in every category of human flourishing that most Americans would share some consensus on. Why?

            To act like government had nothing to do with it is just as asinine as saying that the federal government will solve all our our problems. Big laws, when enforced, did make big changes. But what about local communities working together across philosophical divides to compromise and make incremental changes one problem at a time?

            What is the picture at 40,000 feet? What works and what doesn’t? What can we agree on?

          4. “That’s a great reply. tsalmon needs to be reminded to debate the issues, not the imperfections his opponents.”

            Huh? The issue is racism brother. The issue is sin. In this case, what many consider America’s original sin. Your earlier response to me above seems to me to be pure cynicism about this issue.

            We cannot save ourselves from sin. This is true, but don’t you think God expects us to constantly strive to move toward Him. We cannot take the life ring Jesus threw at us unless we swim toward it, and we can’t swim toward it unless we recognize and start to drop the weights that are dragging us toward the bottom. This means that, yes, we can recognize our flaws and improve ourselves, both as individuals, as a community and as a nation. We can, we must and we have made progress.

            The view from 40,000 feet is that racism, like all sinfulness, is in our nature, but we don’t overcome our nature by repressing it. To take your point in this post, everyone is a thief. One does not stop being a thief and one does not catch a thief by being ignorant of his thieving nature, as you imply. One stops being a thief by clearly facing his sin and the nature of sin in his fellows. Only then can we make progress, with the grace of God, toward overcoming our sinful nature. It doesn’t take a thief to catch a thief, but it does take a detective who understands why he too might be a thief, if he did not work to control that temptation.

            As to racism, pretending that Donald Trump isn’t appealing to our most racist and xenophobic impulses does not stop it from being true. Racism, like every sin, must be recognized and confronted before we can make any real progress as individuals or as a nation to stop it. This is how we have made progress in the past, and we have made progress, including through government action. To say otherwise is just to stick our heads in the sand and expect God to do all the work for us.

          5. @tsalmon

            The issue is the simple fact Liberal Democrats hide their thievery and incompetence with lies. Look any any place run by Democrats. The rich are getting richer. The poor are being duped and being educated so that they can be more easily duped.

            There is nothing new about Socialism except the name. It is just the way sinful people have always exploited the poor, by lying to them and cheating them.

          6. “Look any any place run by Democrats. The rich are getting richer. The poor are being duped and being educated so that they can be more easily duped.”

            Seriously? The poorest areas in the country are run by Republicans who just stoke fear, racism, religious bigotry and xenophobia to keep their constituents from figuring out that they are being duped into wallowing in their own misery.

            Baltimore??? On average, urban American crime rates have fallen drastically since the 1990’s, as the social state in cities have improved.

            By comparison rural “white” American has taken a nose dive, with rising mortality rates and declining life expectancy of people who are suffering from “deaths of despair” from opioids, suicide and alcoholism. The real social collapse is happening in the Republicantopia of incompetence, demagoguery and corruption. While the more prosperous Blue places are paying for their very safety nets, their Republican leaders are trying to take them away.

  2. Don’t think of an elephant.
    Don’t be an elephant.
    I mean it….you’d better not be thinking of an elephant!!!

    Kind of makes one think of an elephant, doesn’t it?

  3. Back to my post the other day—a chamber pot for the chamber— if I hear one more mouth utter the word racism or impeachment, in goes a bar of soap!!!!!
    Just like Ralphie!

  4. Give ’em heck, Tom! Right now I’m busy nurturing offense, feeling sorry for myself, and wallowing in bitterness after having endured some false allegations.

    I mean I’m contemplating forgiveness….. 🙂

    And the worst, the very worst are these young people who haven’t yet learned how to engage the clutch in their brains that’s connected to their mouth.

  5. So all the wisdom of the ages has taught you school yard taunt: “Oh ya, it takes one to know one.”

    Well, Grasshopper, let me save you some time on the deep research and erudite writing of your next post:

    “Trump’s made of rubber and the Dems are made of glue; whatever you say bounces off of him and sticks on you”.


    1. @tsalmon

      Trump’s made of rubber and the Dems are made of glue; whatever you say bounces off of him and sticks on you.

      That’s progress. Now you just need to figure out why.

      1. Why? Of course it is because of the ancient Confucian law that rubber always beats glue…except of course when the receiving party next exercises the superior “sticks and stones” defense.

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