44. He is a cold, calculated racist and an apologist for white supremacy.
When DT took office, I made a big deal about his racist rhetoric being incidental to his self-aggrandizing agenda, rather than a defining characteristic of the man. While I still believe that everything he says and does is intended to aid his own quest for power, wealth, and status, it is no longer credible to suggest that his use of racist tropes is a mere side effect; it’s clearly part of the core of who he is. So let’s not mince words. He is a racist.
From his description of white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville in 2017 as “very fine people” to his shamefully incendiary words about the Black Lives Matter protests to his call for a sanitized account of U.S. history to be taught in public schools, DT has made it crystal-clear that he believes people of color are unworthy of his respect. And it’s not just a question of words: his actions betray the sorry truth of his racist agenda. His repeated attempts to gut health care, his lily-white judicial appointments, his response to the coronavirus pandemic—all have had a disproportionate negative effect on non-white Americans. While pursuing his racist agenda, he has repeatedly patronized African Americans in particular, insisting baselessly that he has helped them more than other presidents. And of course his racism isn’t limited to Black people, as his demeaning words about Native Americans, his anti-Asian mischaracterizations of the COVID-19 virus, and his vicious crusade against Latinx immigrants make clear.
Great leaps forward in civilization typically spark backlash, and that’s in part what put DT in the White House in the first place. He identified a wave of backlash against a century of progress, clambered awkwardly onto his made-in-China boogie board, and rode that wave to victory in the Electoral College. There’s always a bit of seesawing, a bit of give and take, when human history unfolds. And now there are clear signs of a backlash against the backlash, which is inevitable and good. We’ve come too far to go back to what DT and his supporters consider the “good old days” when Black people knew their place, women were supposedly content with subordinate roles, Latinx people were treated as subhuman, and LGBT people were obliged to either be invisible or risk incarceration, torture, and death. Justice will triumph over fear in the end, but in the meantime, lives are at stake; the price of another four years of DT’s racism is simply too high. The single most important thing any American can do to combat racism in 2020 is to vote DT out of office.
Where’s the hood?
Many white Americans, most of them probably well-meaning, have misunderstood racism, equating it with the Ku Klux Klan and Southern segregationists and failing to acknowledge that its subtler manifestations have continued to pervade nearly all aspects of society. In fact, America has had a racism problem since long before its founding—since the day the first white settlers set foot on its shores—and the problem is far from solved today. DT isn’t trying to solve the problem and he doesn’t want to. In fact, he’s deliberately making it worse because he thinks it helps him at the polls.
Remember when he bragged he could shoot someone in Times Square and his supporters would still support him? Who could forget it—it very likely was one of most truthful statements he’s ever made. So, if he could get away with murder, it’s hardly surprising that he can embrace racism so thoroughly without serious repercussions to himself. Yet. He doesn’t need to put on a white robe and hood; his core supporters may be intellectually challenged or morally bankrupt or both, but they understand his dog whistles well enough. He’s one of us, they think, and they’re right.