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Presidential Racism: Shining Example of America’s Somber Status Quo

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Donald Trump is an asshole – as in a definition of that body part descriptor applicable to an irritating personality disorder: a detestable, spiteful, stupid person.

The now former British Ambassador to the United States described the 45th U.S. President as “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool” – polished phrases consistent with a definition of an a-hole.

No surprise that news media coverage of the Ambassador’s leaked diplomatic communications enraged the easily irritated self-proclaimed ‘stable genius’ forcing that Ambassador’s resignation.

Even some Trump supporters acknowledge his assholiery* yet excuse it as a means for ‘their’ President to deliver their desired ends. (*Assholiery: the act of being an asshole).

Given the wide recognition of this contemptible Trump character trait, it’s amazing that dispute still persists about another widely recognized and well documented Trump infirmity: his racism.

While Trump preens as the “least racist person you’ll ever meet” the public record is rife with abundant evidence that contradict his contentions.

That record includes the 1973 U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against Trump for discriminatory refusal to rent apartments to blacks, Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign launch larded with racially repugnant slurs about Mexicans and his recent attacks on four non-white female members of the U.S. Congress that produced a rare Congressional rebuke of a U.S. President for racism.

Trump trumpets the low unemployment rate among blacks as proof that his body contains no racist “bones.”

But what Trump doesn’t say (and what the media doesn’t report adequately) is that the current unemployment rate for blacks remains about twice that of whites. The June 2019 national unemployment rate for whites was 3.3 percent compared to 6 percent for blacks. The June 2000 rate was 3.6 percent for whites and 7.8 percent for blacks. Since Trump has neither eased nor erased that long-standing unemployment rate disparity – one rooted in racial discrimination – he does not deserve credit.

Trump’s specious denials of racism – far from Trump exhibiting another personality impairment – exemplify a problem that exceeds even his enormous ego.

That problem is the pattern of indignant denials of racism from individuals and institutions. This problem has persisted since the founding of the United States over 240-years ago.

On January 2, 1800 the U.S. Congress indignantly rejected a petition from free blacks that requested federal protection from illegal kidnapping into slavery and consideration of a gradual end to slavery. The sole Congressman who voted to accept that petition for consideration castigated the “prejudice” of his colleagues.

On May 18, 1896 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld legalized segregation all but one justice bashed blacks for believing the Court’s apartheid sanctioning ruling stamped blacks with a “badge of inferiority.”

The 21st Century dawned with wide societal ire cemented that affirmative actions to ameliorate the documented damages against blacks from over two centuries of legalized racism really constituted a wrong against whites…who benefitted from that American apartheid.

The wrongful conviction Central Park 5 case is another chilling example of the deeply embedded, incessantly denied racism.

‘The Donald’ did spend over $80,000 on full page advertisements in four New York City daily newspapers demanding the death penalty for the five non-white teens charged that brutal 1989 beating/rape of a white female joggers. But when Black leaders in NYC and beyond called-out societal responses to that crime as ‘lynch mob’ hysteria, their criticism referenced reactions Trump contributed to but did not create.

White police, prosecutors, press pundits and public so vocal about that Central Park rape remained silent about the brutal rapes of four black women in NYC around the time of that jogger’s rape, including the black rape victim thrown off a building roof.

The continuing refusal of Trump to acknowledge the injustice endured by the Central Park Five, or to acknowledge the horror of his calling for their execution, and of the foul reality that officials in NYC spent ten years fighting against compensation for the wrongful imprisonment of those non-white teens after they had been exonerated from the crime, are worth recalling as his administration reactivates the federal death penalty, with five executions scheduled for this December 9.

Trump’s racism is not an aberration. Remember Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have acquiesced to Trump’s racist assaults on non-white members of Congress, most recently Trump raging about ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings. The GOP (along with friends at the FOX network) disingenuously defend Trump’s tirades as partisan not prejudice.

In 1852 fabled anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass warned that racism comprised a “horrible” venomous reptile “coiled up in [America’s] bosom.”

Douglass urged his fellow Americans to destroy that “hideous monster” forever – a request that remains unfulfilled…to America’s continuing detriment!

 

 

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Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

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