MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Nitpickers may argue that Donald Trump uses race as a strategic political tool to energize his base, but that he is not necessarily racist. However, that is a difficult concept to accept. Trump himself is indignant when he is called out as racist. He has stated, for example, "No, no, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you."
Nonetheless, when you are president of the United States, if you implement racist policies and make racist statements, you are making a choice to be a racist. Personal denials are not sufficient to scrub away being the ignoble champion of white supremacists. After all, Trump's signature political slogan of "Make America Great Again" is a barely disguised appeal to "Make America White Again." One can interpret this appeal is to assure Trump supporters that he advocates for a time when a white patriarchy was the basis of politics, economics and societal structure in the US.
A July 4 CNN article by Chris Cilizza presents stunning evidence that many Americans agree that Trump is prejudiced:
A new Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result: 49% of people said they believe President Donald Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not.
This illuminates why Trump is trying to drastically reduce immigration overall, making scapegoats of refugees from Mexico and Central America and prohibit visas from certain Muslim nation, among other actions. It also explains the vast and multi-faceted GOP effort to reduce the number of non-white voters through various voter suppression strategies. Add to that the GOP gerrymandering in states where there representation in legislatures and Congress is disproportionately greater than the actual breakdown of the non-Republican electorate.
One only need to recall the disdain Trump showed to the catastrophic crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. While providing some initial emergency relief, Trump lectured Puerto Ricans besieged by Hurrican Maria and creditors seeking repayment on the island's more than $90 million in debt. A few days after the hurricane lashed the island, Trump flew down for a short time and his most noteworthy action was throwing paper towels to survivors.
It is not to be overlooked that Puerto Ricans, although US citizens, are people who represent "the other" to whites. Trump padded himself on the back while giving short shrift to the needs of the islanders. He particularly praised himself for taking claim that only 69 Puerto Ricans had died as a result of the Hurricane onslaught.
On May 29, Bloomberg reported:
President Donald Trump’s reaction was awful [to Puerto Rico's need]. He picked fights with local government, and during his visit to the island he focused far more on congratulating himself than on doing something worth bragging about.
Worse, he didn’t follow up. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands simply disappeared from his public statements, and there’s no reporting to indicate that anything was different behind closed doors. There’s no record of FEMA officials or anyone else being summoned to the White House and urged to do more. No evidence of high-level White House coordination of the efforts, such as they were, from the various agencies involved. In fact, the best reporting on the government response, from Politico’s Danny Vinik, shows that it was botched from the get-go, with the government going all out to assist Houston but not Puerto Rico.
A recent Harvard study revealed an estimated 4,645 people who died due to secondary impact of Hurricane Maria. As non-whites, the residents of the colonial Commonwealth of Puerto Rico were disposable people.
An op-ed in The New York Times earlier this year assembled a "definitive list" of Trump's racism. The first two paragraphs of the commentary are telling:
Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: 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.
There are no excuses to be made for Trump. He is the cult leader of the racist backlash to the real and symbolic power of a black president. Trump's an incendiary force for restoring white dominance of the US.