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While meeting with lawmakers to discuss an immigration deal, President Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He made this comment referring to people from African countries and people from the island nation of Haiti. He went on to ask “why can’t we have more people from Norway” instead of immigrants from countries populated by black and Hispanic people. A few weeks ago President Trump said in a staff meeting about immigration that “all Hatians have AIDS”, and once African immigrants get to the United States “we’ll never be able to convince them to go back to their huts”.
These comments from the president aren’t very surprising to anyone who has paid attention to his statements and actions over the course of his life and career in the public eye. He has a long history of making racist statements and incorporating his racist world view in his business dealings. For example refusing to rent apartments to black people in New York. Telling the manager of his casino to put black and Hispanic employees in the kitchen because he didn’t want them seen on the floor. Panicking after a visit to the office of his accountant when he saw a black accountant preparing his taxes. He told the manager that he only wanted Jewish people working on his financials. There are a lot of stories like this (that have been verified in discrimination lawsuits and deposition testimony) about Trump.
I’m highlighting these examples because I know there’s a segment of the population here in the U.S. who will defend him without knowing his history. Ignorance is never a defense but I do feel that those who know his history but still comes to his defense like some of Trump’s republican colleagues did yesterday, there’s a special place in hell for those people. One congressman said that it was ok for Trump to say what he said about preferring white Norwegian immigrants over black immigrants because Trump was voicing an opinion that a lot of Americans happen to share. Even if that were true, I fail to see how that makes it ok. How does the popularity of a comment decide it’s moral value? During the civil rights movement most white Americans wanted to maintain the status quo where blacks were discriminated against and considered second class citizens by law. But president Kennedy and some allies in congress saw that the popular opinion was wrong and morally reprehensible. They knew passing the civil rights act would probably end their chances of getting re-elected, but did it anyway (thanks to leaders like MLK who organized a movement that wouldn’t allow men of conscience to ignore the state of the oppressed).
Real leaders are supposed to lead. Presidents are supposed to be aspirational. They are supposed to project a vision that gives everyone something to aspire to. They are supposed to show us how we could be better as a country. Former President Barack Obama understood this and you could tell it was genuine because it influenced every decision he made as president. Almost to a fault he believed Americans were inherently good people whose sense of right and wrong would always move us further if presented with a choice. Our current president has a much darker view. His stated goal to “make America great again” involves taking us back to a time before the civil rights movement. He sees America as a white country with black and brown usurpers that should never have been.given equal rights. His every statement and action as president shows an intention to undo that. Those who run to his defense are showing us their intent to help him reach that goal. Trump and his apologists are mainstreaming white supremacy.
Mainstream media have been very hesitant to call Trump a racist even though the evidence continues to mount. Yes, Trump is indeed a racist but I believe the annals of history will go one step further and call him what he really is, which is a white supremacist. His defenders need to decide if that’s a title they would like to be associated with, because that’s the way history will remember them as well.
Everyone has seen the awful events that took place in Charlottesville Virginia (8/12/17). Neo-Nazi, anti-semitic, alt-right racist planned an attack on our country and carried it out. Lives were lost, people were injured, and those of us who watched these things happen on the news were horrified. Our president Donald Trump made a statement immediately after the attacks and refused to call these attacks terrorism and refused to denounce the alt-right white supremacists by name. Some people were shocked by his comments, and a lot of people are still hoping he will denounce these hate groups by name. I do not share this hope. I am happy he didn’t denounce these hate groups, and here’s why.
President Trump hired a leader in the alt-right white supremacist movement and made him a senior advisor (Steve Bannon). There are many more like Steve Bannon who work in Trump’s administration with very close ties to hate groups and a well documented history of their racist beliefs. Most of the people who consider themselves a part of Trump’s base are well aware of the people Trump has chosen to surround himself with. They are aware of Trump’s racist well established world view (Central Park 5, housing discrimination, birtherism, Islamophobia, staffing choices in his casinos and hotels, encouraging police brutality, Judge Curiel, etc).
They got an earful of it at every Trump rally. The nastier the rhetoric, the louder they cheered. He didn’t try to hide his racist views so it always puzzled me why establishment Republicans believed this was an act that would go away after he took the oath of office. As if putting his hand on the Bible would change the ways of a 70 year old man.
This is why I believe his supporters who are holding out hope that he’ll make another statement with a more forceful unequivocal denunciation of the neo-Nazi white supremacist hate groups, aren’t really hoping he has seen the error in his beliefs and the hate in his heart. What they are hoping for is plausible deniability. They want to pretend they are unaware of Trump’s bigoted views. They want to pretend their support of him has nothing to do with him being a racist. They want to continue ignoring the background of his advisors. They want to continue to believe that his win in 2016 had nothing to do with race. They want to continue to believe that political correctness and not race are the real problems we’re facing right now. Events like Charlottesville rips away that cover. President Trump’s non-denouncement of specific hate groups that took the lives of Americans shines a light on something that was there all along. We have a racist president with racist views who will always sympathize with people and groups who have beliefs similar to his own.
That’s why I hope he doesn’t try to walk-back his statement about “hate on both sides”. From this point on, his supporters must be honest about why they thought he would “make America great again”. Or at the very least stop acting surprised and outraged at his behavior whenever that shield of deniability slips and gives us another peek at the bigot behind it. #Charlottesville #altRightWhiteHouse #SociallyUrban