Nice Liberal Man Here To Tell You Trump Isn't The White Supremacist He So Obviously Is
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones wants to reassure us that Donald Trump isn't a white supremacist. He's not even a racist. Could've fooled anyone conscious! Drum is neither a minority nor presumably a white supremacist/racist, but what he lacks in firsthand experience, he makes up for with his pedantic command of "words and phrases." They possess "actual meanings," he'll have you know, which he'll now explain to us pathetic slobs.
DRUM: A white supremacist is someone who believes as an ideology that the white race is inherently superior to and should dominate all other races. Adolf Hitler was a white supremacist. Jefferson Davis was a white supremacist. For that matter, pretty much everyone in Europe (or descended from European stock) before about 1900 was a white supremacist.
White people have a tiresome habit of restricting the definition of "white supremacist" to literally the worst humans who ever walked the earth. It's uncomfortable to consider George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln "white supremacists," which they all were even by Drum's own terminology. American white supremacy as an ideology didn't end after the Civil War. It was the law of the land for most of the 20th Century, and even after the Civil Rights Movement, it never truly vanished. It persisted in more pernicious forms. You might know it as "white flight" or the Reagan administration. Racial profiling, stop and frisk ... it's all white supremacy as policy.
DRUM: A racist is someone who believes different races have different inherent abilities but doesn't have any consistent ideology to back it up. They just don't like folks from other tribes (and they do like being top dog).
Drum apparently assumes there's a "consistent ideology" to white supremacy beyond "minorities bad." He also provides the loosey-goosey definition of "racist" that includes people -- minorities, for instance -- without the power to implement racist policies. Enslaved people probably fit this definition of racist, so it's not helpful.
DRUM: A race-baiter is someone who may or may not be personally racist but is perfectly happy to make money or win political office by appealing to racists.
This is the "method racist" theory. People who "play act" as racist for fun, profit, and political power are just mercenaries. Have Cross -- Will Burn. This theory requires an audience and electorate filled to the brim with racists. There's also no social fallout for the "race-baiter." Their supposedly non-racist friends don't mind that they demonize minorities professionally. Drum insists, without compelling evidence, that Trump is a "race-baiter." Is this supposed to make minorities feel better? "Don't worry: The president's not racist, but everyone else is! He's just trying to hang ... maybe even you. Just kidding. But seriously, he'll go where the party is."
We have dealt personally and professionally with racists for our entire life. We are subject matter experts. We can state conclusively that Donald Trump is the white supremacist of our nightmares. Imagine someone who
won't rent us housing, who won't hire us for certain jobs, or who uses his wealth and influence to have us executed. That's Donald Trump. He's so obviously a racist he's like an over-the-top version of a racist in movies.
Much of Trump's racism is unscripted. What was the political gain of his "shitholes" comment in a private meeting that his staff and Republican enablers quickly denied ever happened? Is Drum aware of a specific legal loophole Trump cannily exploited when he called the Indiana-born judge in his fake college lawsuit a "Mexican" who couldn't fairly oversee the case? Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn't even confirm that there were no recordings of Trump using the "n-word."
Trump isn't just some common Archie Bunker. It's a mistake to think he doesn't adhere to a consistent ideology of white supremacy. He believes minorities are "cheating" their betters, either posing as "Indians" to screw his casino businesses or pretending they're legitimate presidents.
DRUM: Genuine white supremacists are thin on the ground these days and don't wield any serious political power.
Welcome to Circular Logic Theatre: White supremacists have no serious political power because we're going to pretend that the president isn't a white supremacist and apparently neither is his close adviser Stephen Miller, who gets off on locking up immigrant kids. The previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, also wasn't a racist, even though Coretta Scott King wrote a damning letter about him consisting of the single word YIKES!
DRUM: Racists come in all stripes, but their power has been dwindling for decades and their attitudes have largely been driven out of the public square.
Drum has now gone full Tucker Carlson. Racism is a myth. He said this on the anniversary of white supremacists marching unashamed in the public square. One of them killed a woman there. Nevertheless, Drum dismisses the rising tide of openly racist sentiment as mere "race-baiting." Drum contends that actual racism is on its deathbed, yelling epithets at its black nurse.
It's another tiresome argument that we can't say someone is racist because we don't know what's in their heart. Racism is not a heart condition. We know someone is racist because of what they say and do. Trump says and does racist things. It matters that we identify him as a racist, even if he's temporarily wearing the presidential seal.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."