Racist is Too Mild a Term

Donald Trump is a white nationalist, full stop.

For years people have debated whether Donald Trump is a racist.

For some, the answer was always an obvious yes. When you launch your campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, claim a Mexican American judge can’t fairly adjudicate a lawsuit against you because of his ethnicity, call African nations “shitholes,” and suggest we need more immigrants from Norway and fewer from Haiti or Central America, you’ve earned the title. To say nothing of soft-pedaling Nazis in Charlottesville, of course.

The evidence of Trump’s racial bias is clear; it stretches back decades and is available for all who are willing to see.

But for others, the charge was unfair. Not only Trump supporters, whose denial is at least understandable but even those who are critical of him.

“Well,” they would aver. “Maybe it’s not fair to call him a racist. I mean, we don’t know what’s in his heart.”

But as Amanda Marcotte explained after watching the always execrable Chuck Todd inquire into the aortic nature of Trump’s prejudice, the question of whether one is a racist “in their heart” is a bizarre one:

Let us imagine for a minute a person who loves, say, the Philadelphia Eagles as much as Trump loves racist language and actions. He tweets about the Eagles regularly, often using all-caps. He buys season tickets and attends every Eagles game he possibly can. He’s been talking about the Eagles and watching their games for decades. He feels elated when they win and crushed when they lose. He wears his Eagles logo hat all the time.

Would anyone look at that man and ask, ‘But wait — is he an Eagles fan in his heart?’

Marcotte’s point was simple, though it is often missed. Racism may be a noun, but it functions as a verb. It’s about what one does, not merely what one is.

If one performs racism regularly, to split hairs about whether racism is central to one’s being or merely a tool cynically deployed to capitalize on the racism of others, is an absurdity. It would be like sizing up a husband and father who regularly deploys verbal intimidation and threats against his wife and children, but then wondering whether he really means those things or is just using them for some other ends. If at that point, you even give a shit about the answer — if the difference seems remotely meaningful to you — you are an enabler of abuse.

So too, with Trump and racism.

Donald Trump believes America is white, and all others are welcome only to the extent they give their approval to white rule.

Donald Trump is a Confederate, from Queens by way of Birmingham, circa 1963.

In sixteen months, the rest of us will have a decision to make. Do we send the nation back to that time — do we ratify that retrograde vision — or do we send Donald Trump back to his gilded tower and propel America into a brighter, but far less white, future?

And make no mistake, regardless of one’s personal motivation — regardless of one’s support for Trump’s economic policies or stance on abortion or any other subject — a vote for him in 2020 is a vote for white nationalism. It is a vote tantamount to a declaration of war on black and brown peoples.

Those who cast that vote will be remembered for what they did, and they will not be forgiven.


Your grandchildren will be ashamed of you.
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