By now, this shouldn’t be a controversial opinion. It shouldn’t even be considered opinion.
By his very words and deeds and policies, Donald Trump has proved this to be fact, nearly every day of his presidency.
And yet, here we are, still pretending that it’s some kind of bombshell, juicy enough — his imprisoned ex-lawyer hopes — to sell some books from behind bars.
This just in, from the Washington Post: “Michael Cohen’s book will allege that Trump made racist comments about Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.”
(Spoiler: You don’t have to utter an actual racial slur to be racist. But more on that later.)
Cohen’s news follows the hoopla over Mary Trump, in her own book, spilling the inside story of how Trump was molded into the misogynistic misanthrope-in-chief. Daddy issues. (It’s always daddy issues.)
It’s sold books, for sure. But do you know when any of this “inside knowledge” might have been useful? Before this presidential parasite infiltrated the White House and went about systematically infecting our country.
Because, reminder: There is nothing heroic about speaking up when it’s safe and profitable to do so, when the world is already on fire.
And whom are they kidding? Trump has been racist long before he realized he could use racism to rile up his political base. Calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five even after they were exonerated. Insisting that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
This back when Trump was still perfecting the racist rhetoric that has come to define his tenure: Obama “doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there is something on that birth certificate — maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim; I don’t know.”
And so are those who support him. If you support a racist, you’re a racist. It’s that simple.
Now, this is where those who fully support Trump’s racism will either double down or try to rationalize it in their own heads, by, for example, pointing out that he’s not running around yelling the N-word. (Although there have been reports of Trump using the N-word long before and after being elected president.)
But how is that the threshold?
When I made mention of this on Twitter, fellow journalist Joel Mathis tweeted back:
“There’s still kind of this perception among some folks, I think, that actual uttered slurs are the grand prize of proving racism, when comments short of slurs and, you know, policy and habits should also be clear indicators.”
For anyone counting, that’s four times, one for each year this country has been buckling under this racist administration’s leadership. But really, there are enough examples to use it as chalkboard punishment for supporters who choose not to believe it.
Let’s start with how he began his 2016 campaign, by saying that Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime” and that “they’re rapists.” Or in 2018: “These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Or when that same year, he referred to countries with mostly nonwhite populations as “s—hole” countries.
Or when he referred to kneeling NFL players as “sons of bitches,” or the Bubba Wallace noose incident as a hoax. These days he’s insisting that people calling for a long-overdue reckoning on race in America “hate this country.” He applauds federal agents dressed in camouflage and in unmarked cars for grabbing protesters off the streets. He’s threatening to send officers to more U.S. cities. He also wants undocumented immigrants to be excluded from census numbers used to apportion seats in Congress.
Trump didn’t create the racism in this country, but he increasingly inspires it. His reelection campaign is powered by it.
There are so many examples, it’s hard to choose which to highlight.
He insists on calling the coronavirus the “China virus” or the “kung flu,” as he referred to it at his Tulsa rally, while journalists wring their hands with stories cautioning that “racially insensitive” language like that could inspire racism against Asian Americans.
Or how about when he recently rejected the fact that Black people suffer disproportionately from police brutality and twisted the stats by saying that “more white people” are killed by police?
Most thinking Americans understand that their president is a serial liar. It is time for the country to acknowledge another truth.