Why Politicians Are Reluctant to Acknowledge Trump's Racism


When Donald Trump angrily insists, in the shadowy aftermath of some incontestably, incontrovertibly racist outburst or action that, actually, he’s the least racist person in the world, to the point of not having a single racist bone in his body he is, of course, flattering and deluding himself. But just as importantly, if not more so, he is flattering and deluding his supporters.

After all, if Donald Trump, a man with a long, damning, consistent history of doing and saying things that are egregiously racist, dating back to the days when he and his father were being investigated and fined for discriminatory renting practices, is not only not racist but the least racist person in the world, then it would follow that anyone who behaved in equally or less bigoted ways was similarly innocent 100 percent of the sin of racism. 

In an amazing, almost unbelievable development, our nation’s tragic and ugly racial history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan, segregation, institutionalized racism, horrifying economic and social iniquity and rampant media and news stereotyping have had zero effect on Trump, who for seventy three magical years has lived a life wholly unsullied by even a hint of racism. 


Since Trump has repeatedly professed to be the single least racist person on earth, that means that in his mind EVERYBODY, even tiny babies, is more racist than he is. I wonder if Trump ever holds a toddler and thinks, “Wow, this baby is a racist piece of human garbage compared to me, who does not have a racist bone in his body. This little fucker probably has at least three or four racist bones, the hateful little shit.”

When Trump says that he’s the least racist person in the world and that he does not have a racist bone in his body he’s engaging in his trademark breathless hyperbole and flagrant dishonesty but he’s also asserting that it is not only possible to be completely non-racist but that he, someone widely perceived as racist on account of the race and religion-based hate he is perpetually spewing, has achieved this state of grace. 

Where you may see a hateful demagogue frothing at the mouth with venom for his many enemies, many of them women and people of color, his supporters see a one-man racial utopia  who liberated a thankful nation from identity politics and made America safe for the white straight Christian man once again, after this endangered breed nearly lost all power and cultural standing under Obama’s cruel reign of radical racial vengeance. 

Trump was elected President of the United States in angry defiance of logic, expectations and God’s will in no small part because he made Americans feel good about their own racism. He made the MAGA crowd feel good about their racism by convincing them that it wasn’t racism at all, but rather “political incorrectness”, “putting America First”, “toughness”, “realism”, “patriotism”, “protecting Western civilization”, “fighting Muslim extremism”, “Defending our borders”, “protecting women and gays from radical Muslim Jihadist eager to throw them off the top of buildings.” It was anything but racism. 


So when Tucker Carlson recently insisted that poisonous institutionalized racism wasn’t the key issue Democrats are making it out to be because white supremacy doesn’t really exist anymore, that the number of genuine white supremacists in our nation could fit inside a football stadium, he was echoing Trump’s soothing message that the MAGA crowd need never examine their privilege or experience guilt or responsibility for the insidious nature of anti-black racism because the ugly, brutal racism they saw all around them, that defines our fractious political and social discourse in so many ways is nothing more than an elaborate hoax perpetrated by black race hustlers like Al Sharpton and soulless, America-hating opportunists out for money, fame and power. 

It’s a Jedi Mind Trick: what you see in front of you does not exist, never existed, could not exist. Don’t trust your eyes or ears or mind, only the words of pathological liars operating perpetually out of ruthless self-interest. 

Jon Voight echoed this poisonous but powerful strain of right-wing self-delusion when he recently said that “too many are angered at the words of racism,” which had been “a big issue for the black community since the Civil War, but this has been solved long ago by our forefathers for peace and love.”

I don’t think anyone takes Voight seriously as a political thinker, or thinker, but the fact that anyone could utter these words in 2019 with a straight face and zero irony speaks profoundly to a Trumpian desire to pretend that we triumphed over white supremacy long ago when we stopped having separate water fountains and are now living in a world where American society is hopelessly tilted in favor of illegal immigrants and black/trans/feminist activists while white, straight, flag-waving Christian men have huge targets on their backs and are the ignored, persecuted victims of our society’s ugliest and least talked about form of prejudice: making white people feel bad about being racist.


That’s why many, particularly on the right, are reluctant to call Trump out on his racism. To do so would risk having to acknowledge their own racism and, perhaps even more importantly, the racism of voters who have been brainwashed into thinking that someone as racist as Trump could absolve them and the nation of its racial sins and make it whole, right and white again as blue-eyed, blonde-haired Jesus intended. 

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