Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Is Donald Trump a racist?
By Casey Lartigue Jr. (Lartigue is a black American journalist)
Leading up to the US presidential election, there were news reports about white supremacists supporting a candidate. Yes, in 2008, white supremacist David Duke said Barack Obama as president would be "a visual aid" and "indisputable proof" that whites had lost control of the U.S.
I was then a regular commentator on National Public Radio's "News and Notes," the man-bites-dog topic of our Roundtable discussion on August 13, 2008: "White Supremacists Voting For Obama?"
Fast-forward eight years, Donald Trump is replacing Obama in the White House and as the poster boy for racists angling to make themselves newsworthy.
White hate groups have lost relevance, but they know how to market themselves to media focused on conflict and crazies. Reflecting eight years later: Did white supremacists recruit well during the Obama years? Should voters have been concerned about their endorsement? Although Americans tell pollsters that the country is headed in the wrong direction, Obama, the most visual aid of hate groups, remains popular in polls and easily won re-election in 2012.
It is now an American ritual to charge presidential candidates as being racist. In 2012, Democrat vice-president Joe Biden said Republican nominee Mitt Romney wanted to put black people "back in chains."
In 2008, the Republican ticket of McCain/Palin was accused of "racist fear-mongering."
In 2000, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ran an ad tying Republican candidate George W. Bush to the dragging death of a black man in Texas.
In 1996, Republican candidate Bob Dole was accused of providing "aid and comfort" to racists with his tough talk.
During the 1980s, Republican Ronald Reagan was allegedly turning back the clock to slavery and his successor George H. W. Bush was a kinder, gentler bigot using racist code language.
Even Democrat Bill Clinton briefly had some explaining to do, for not opposing use of the Confederate flag as governor of Arkansas and because of his close relationship to segregationist J. William Fulbright (yes, the Fulbright Program bears his name).
It will upset those grieving over the 2016 election, but I do not believe Donald Trump is a racist. Insensitive, combative, arrogant, yes, but being politically uncouth does not mean racist.
Trump's critics point to a 1970's discrimination suit filed against Trump's company, his campaign against young black men (falsely) accused of rape in Central Park, and numerous incendiary comments.
Trump struck the nest of angry bees ready to attack. He will need to feed the swarm some honey by instructing the Justice Department to investigate hate groups.
Critics who see racism spelled in their morning cereal are likely to see racism even in sensible things Trump does. Trump has nominated a school choice advocate as his secretary of education. I briefly met Betsy Devos years ago, she is an education reformer who is for change, and she will not change the subject. The Black Alliance for Educational Options immediately hailed her nomination.
George Mason University economist Walter Williams has said, "If the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to sabotage black academic excellence, he could not devise a more effective way of doing so than the schools serving black children."
Black high school graduates read and do math at the level of white and Asian middle school children, have much higher dropout rates, and attend dangerous public schools. You may disagree with charters and vouchers, but is increasing educational choices for children in bad situations the work of an undercover white supremacist?
I predicted Trump would defeat Clinton, I believe he will be an adequate president, and hope he will come to his senses with some of his proposed policies. His harsh campaign language may have been his bargaining tactic with international leaders. As a businessman who has negotiated incredible deals over the past four decades, is he really for cutting off trade and possible deals?
Ah, the point is not to reason with or about Trump. The rioters and strategists trying to block Trump's inauguration will find out in four to eight years that he did not destroy the U.S. or the world.
By then, they will be accusing another candidate of being racist and quoting white supremacists trying to make themselves look relevant.