In my column last week I noted in passing that Donald Trump is a racist. Everyone knows it. Anyone who has ears has heard it. His poisonous attacks on four African-American Congresswomen have significantly underscored the ugliness of his racism. The House of Representatives voted to condemn his attacks as “racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” The symbolic resolution was the first House rebuke of a president in more than a century.
As the New York Times declared: “Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.”
The Times, during the past week, published a long list defining Trump’s racism. I’m recording the highlights here:
- As president, he has nominated or appointed many people who have histories of making racist comments. He is the president of an angry minority; he both feeds its rage and depends on it.
- The federal government has found that, as far back as the 1970s, Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans and gave preferential treatment to whites.
- He treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it.… I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
- e frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful. He also has a pattern of criticizing African-Americans as unintelligent or racist.
- In 1989, Trump took out full-page advertisements in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park. As late as last month, he argued they were guilty, more than 15 years after DNA evidence exonerated them and they were given an award of $41 million for their unjust treatment.
- Last February in a Twitter outburst about Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump appeared to mock the Trail of Tears, a forced exodus that killed thousands of Native Americans.
- Trump has trafficked in anti-Semitic caricatures, including tweets of a six-pointed star alongside a pile of cash. He also has been reluctant to condemn his supporters’ anti-Semitic attacks on journalists, and he’s echoed neo-Nazi conspiracy theories by falsely saying that Hillary Clinton “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”
- He is obsessed with dark-skinned immigrants. He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”
- As I’ve noted in my columns, Trump said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.
- In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.
- Trump regularly demonized dark-skinned immigrants before the 2018 midterm elections, and his campaign produced an advertisement about a caravan of migrants traveling through Mexico — that was so racist even Fox News declined to air it.
- During a White House meeting in 2018, he referred to some undocumented immigrants as “animals” and later said they would “pour into and infest our country.” He also claimed, without evidence, that migrants were bringing diseases into the country.
- All of his almost daily racist attacks are of a piece. In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. His attacks on the congresswomen repeated those racist attacks.
As David Remmick, the widely respected editor of the New Yorker magazine, says, “What’s curious is just how many people have resisted seeing squarely Trump’s racism, his shrewd exploitation of animosity, hatred, and division for political advantage.”
As the Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, a woman of color, points out: “The function, the very serious function of racism, is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
Put that in the context of Trump’s crowds of idiots shouting: “Send her back! Send her back!”