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Op-ed: Racism Is Deeply American

Trump

House Democrats are reportedly planning to introduce a resolution to condemn statements made by President Donald Trump regarding four Congresswomen after he declared that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” 

Sure it’s shocking to hear this sort of bombastic rhetoric from a sitting president, but we all know nothing is new here. Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley, who are at the center of his ire, have not been shy about condemning the president’s racist statements.  

Every week seems to present another example of President Trump spouting rhetoric that are clear examples of racism, only to be countered by retorts like, “there are people of color in his cabinet,” or “he’s not against immigrants, just the ones who are here illegally.” Nevermind the fact that all four are American citizens and three of the four women were born in the United States. Excuse upon excuse disguises the fact that white supremacy isn’t just about riding around with a Klan hood and calling people the N-word. The president tells us who he is every day. And by “tells us,” it’s not through the same old talking points declaring him not to be racist, but through actions like his tweets over the weekend directed at four Congress women of color. 

Whenever Trump is challenged on race, he spouts off his only decent talking point, that Black unemployment is at an all-time low. When Trump has been challenged about LGBTQ+ people, he claims he has no problem with, for example, gay people. Meanwhile his administration has been pursuing a ban on transgender people serving in the military on a very ill-informed basis of fact for the last two years, and has been chipping away at parental rights for same-sex couples, just to cite a couple of problems. Trump claims to empower women but will never cop to his own distasteful — and in some cases, allegedly abusive — behavior with women in his life and in his past. The president’s latest words about the four congresswomen even echo his “shithole countries” statement from early 2018.

It seems as though with every nasty tweet insulting a gigantic group of people, his detractors feel the need to raise it up and say, “See? We told you he is racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/xenophobic.” But I ask, to whom are they holding up that tweet? What is the point? Who is the proof for?

Some of his supporters have shown their dismay, imploring him to walk back his statements; Geraldo Rivera insisted that Trump is "better than this," to which Lawrence O'Donnell quipped, "No. He's not." Joe Biden told reporters, "There has never been a President in American history who has been so openly racist and divisive as this man." It was certainly right of him to use the word, "openly." To insist that Trump’s remarks are ‘un-American’ is to ignore an incredibly rich history of racism in America. Racism is deeply embedded in American history and politics.

Fighting that racism is becoming the next chapter of American history. How it ends is up to voters. However two very exhausting years into this administration, the writing is on the wall. Trump’s supporters remain supporters because of his statements, not in spite of them. For those who are clinging to Team Trump at this point, they know who he is. They see what he is doing. They hear everything from the dog whistles to the bullhorn and everything in between, and they continue to support him. His approval ratings among registered Republicans have remained pretty stagnant throughout his time in office, and even climbed a small bit, and currently hovering around 85% to 90%. 

A House vote to rebuke his statements over the weekend will have historical weight; to look back at 2019 and see that a sitting president was officially shunned by Congress for an astounding display of xenophobia and racism is no small thing. It is always fascinating to think of what our current times will look like with the historic distance of a couple of generations. It’s clear that’s why so many people protest and fight back and vote and run for office and find other ways of voicing their outright opposition to this administration and its ideology — it’s too easy to look back at affronts to humanity and see the outright harm done by those who just sat idly by. 

But if anyone thinks that such a vote will sway any supporters, or change any hearts or minds, at this point it’s too late. To have heard all of the racist words, and witnessed the xenophobic actions over the years, and still not be moved in some way to consider the president just may have a couple of those racist bones people like to say they don’t have? It means they are comfortable with white supremacy. They will chalk the outcry up to nothing more than liberal political correctness run amok yet again. It means they accept that he’s the “strongman” they elected — a “strongman” who pulls no punches, even if those punches are bloody with racism. 

MICHELLE GARCIA is Out's managing editor. 

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Tags: Commentary, Trump

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