Photo credit: Pete 2020 campaign

Michael Harriot’s editorial on Pete Buttigieg lacked substance but signals Pete Buttigieg’s emergence as a serious contender. 

I woke up on Tuesday morning to Pete Buttigieg trending on Twitter. Michael Harriot had written an attack piece calling him a “MF liar.” Calling someone a liar has become itself a trend during the Trump administration. I remember the first time I saw the headline, ‘Donald Trump Lies,’ in NYT. It’s through the president that crude language has entered the mainstream. Trump has broken all conventions of civility and kept breaking them. 

As a result, we are now in a world where Trump, Sarah Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are all called “liars”. Mr. Harriot, I have a question for you: how’s that for “institutional equality?”

Harriot’s intention, I assume, with an attack piece, was to make a point, but Pete Buttigieg is a candidate known for cordiality and politeness. Harriot picked the wrong tactic. All I got from “Pete Buttigieg is a lying MF”  was the reiteration of an insult. The article is not trending because it raises an important issue. It is trending because someone has cast the first stone on a candidate who has remained above the fray so far. 

We live in a time where everyone has to be dragged through the mud on the way to becoming electable. Pete is no exception, and the uglier the methods people attack him with, the more I want to root for him. 

Ode to Jealousy 

A large part of Harriot’s article is an Ode to Jealousy for Pete’s elite education, an accusation that unless you have lived like Harriot did growing up, you could not possibly understand his issues with Buttigieg. 

Everyone has their own path in life, and feeling entitled to judge someone because you grew up in the ‘hood,’ is wrong. You can’t cast stones on others who do not share the same experience. We all come from different backgrounds, but that does not mean that we cannot relate and understand each other’s struggles. 

I grew up in a war-torn country, survived a civil war and multiple bombings. I also went to elite, Ivy League schools, without feeling any need to attack others who were lucky to be born on the ‘right side of the town,’ which, growing up in Serbia, meant born in America. I notice, however, that there is a lot of hate in America against all of us who went to Harvard and Yale. I’m not sure why is this the case.

Political attacks are just that, political attacks

Perhaps Pete is a lucky MF, but someone in his family tree had to come to America and do the hard work. That’s the beauty of America, an opportunity to be and do more that is given to all. No matter how disadvantaged your initial position is, you have an ability to grow if you choose to. Even the most economically disadvantaged American still has a ticket to change their circumstances through acquiring an education, in a way that, for example, people in Iran do not. Unlike in other countries in the world, America does not put a cap on human progress. Here, you have a choice. 

Political attacks are just that, political attacks. Their sole purpose is to tear down, not to clarify, not to educate or bring understanding to social issues. 

“Pete Buttigieg doesn’t want to change anything. He just wants to be something,” writes Harriot. Sorry Michael Harriot, but you do not know that. To make such a claim about someone’s intention does not make any changes on the issues you claim to care about. You, too, have an opportunity to bring change and be something, the two are not mutually exclusive. Your experience is just that, your experience, and you do not get to insult others by attacking their life journey.  

In his defense, Harriot tweeted: “Rigorous scrutiny is the ENTIRE point of the primary process.” Mr. Harriot, this has nothing to do with “rigorous scrutiny.” Political labels and insults do not fit into a definition of scrutiny. What you did was not feedback. It was an attack. 

Congratulations, Pete Buttigieg, they finally attacked you. You are now officially MF Contender. 

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...