Op/Ed

Editorial: Is Trump a racist?

Trump keeps telling reporters that he is not racist in his typical style — by doubling down on the fact; that is, by saying, “Not only am I not a racist, but I’m the least racist person in the world.”
Surely, not even the most Trumpish of Trump supporters would believe that statement as fact, though many of his supporters blow off the criticism by rationalizing that all of us are a bit racist, and Trump’s no worse than most. (He is, but like Hitler’s supporters of the day, they choose to ignore reality.)
Interestingly, a recent poll shows that most Americans disagree with Trump’s assessment. According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University, three-quarters of black Americans — and more than half of Americans overall — think Trump is “explicitly racist.”
And it’s not just black Americans. According to the poll, a majority of independents think Trump is racist, most white women think Trump is racist, and most whites with a college degree think Trump is racist.
The only group in which a majority does not think Trump is racist is the white, male Republican who lacks a college degree.
But that’s one poll, more importantly, what do you think?
If you need help, a racist is defined as “a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”
To give Trump the benefit of the doubt, he demeans everyone (women, Democrats, gay people, Hispanics,
African-Americans, Asians, even people within his own staff and administration, any Republican who disputes him, certainly our NATO allies; everyone it would seem except strong dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin), so maybe he gets a pass because he treats almost everyone as if they’re inferior. (That’s not a great excuse, but it’s probably one Fox and Friends might embrace in his defense, and one Trump might approve.)
An interesting twist on the question comes from the term “new racism,” coined in 1981 by Professor Martin Barker in his book, “The New Racism: Conservatives and the Ideology of the Tribe,” which looked at Margaret Thatcher’s rise in the UK and what he believed was, according to Wikipedia, “racist public discourse depicting immigrants as a threat.” The Wikipedia entry continues: “New racism suggests to have some sort of new strength because it does not appear to be racism. New racism relies more heavily on the manipulation of ideas within mass media to reproduce and disseminate the ideologies needed to justify racism.”
That’s a revealing contextual use in today’s politics, and is closer to the point. Under this context, leading a chant that directs immigrants, or four congresswomen, to “Go back from where you come from,” is definitely displaying racist behavior, though those same people doing the chanting may not think of themselves as racists who discriminates against people of a different race in their home town, school or neighborhood.
You can see this vividly in today’s politics: Republicans who are emboldened by Trump to shout racist slogans at immigrants and people of color in a political context, yet who would never exhibit the same behavior to neighbors or friends who may be of a different race in a local context.
But racism is what racist behavior does. The question is why the Republican Party leadership doesn’t reign in Trump’s racist behavior? Could they really believe it strengthens their party?
Angelo Lynn

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