As I am sure you know, on Sunday Mr. Donald J. Trump sent out a series of racist tweets about four Congresswomen of color. Besides putting forth lies about who does or does not love their country, and other blatantly bizarre statements concerning a Congresswoman’s “love” for al-Qaeda, for three days (and counting) he used the most basic of racial and ethnic slurs by telling them to go back to where they came from.
This should not be surprising. Mr. Trump has a record of racist statements and actions dating to the 1970’s when he and his father were sued by the federal government for discrimination in the renting of apartments in a building in Queens, New York. The list of other racist statements and actions over the decades is way too long to recount here. However, since declaring his candidacy for president the number of such incidents have increased. As president, Mr. Trump seems to have settled on attacking women of color. Such attacks include the mother of a Marine killed in action, the wife of a soldier killed in action, various Congresswomen of color prior to this incident, and numerous others. For some reason, he thinks that’s a good thing to do.
The president is a racist.
Some may argue that I cannot possibly know what is in his heart. That is true, I do not. I do know that his recurring actions and words show that he is a racist. White nationalists say that he is one of them. They recognize what they see. To paraphrase an old saw, if he walks like a racist, quacks like a racist and looks like a racist, he’s a racist.
Sadly, however, many of us already knew this and are profoundly disappointed in his actions, but not surprised. What is surprising is that the entire Republican House and Senate members — save a few countable on one hand — support his racism. Don’t take my word for it. Yesterday the House voted to condemn the president’s remarks. Only four Republicans voted for the condemnation and one former Republican did so. One of the four is the only African-American Republican in the House. The vast majority of Republicans, in the House and Senate, are white men. There is one African-American Republican Senator.
The Republicans lack of a back bone makes me sad for our country.
Mr. Trump is fully in control of the Republican Party and good men and women that used to stand up for what was right now meekly submit to his will — and in some instances loudly support his every deed — including the most basic of hurtful phrases. “Go back.” Those two words convey hate for the “other.” Hate for people with “funny” names or who don’t look like northern Europeans. It means that you do not belong here with “real” Americans, no matter how long you and your family have lived in the United States. It separates you. It is meant to demean. It is hateful. Words matter. And only four Republicans put what was right over the fear of a Tweet from Mr. Trump. In my book, if you stand up for a racist by actively supporting his words and actions, then that makes you a racist.
Mr. Trump took this course on purpose. There was no attempt to “explain what he really meant” or to clarify, or to otherwise soften his words. In fact he doubled and tripled down on his remarks by going out of his way to repeat them over and over. It is entirely possible to disagree on a policy statement or a political agenda as I do with much of what the four Congresswomen under attack are pursuing. What is not okay is using racial and ethnic smears to personally attack other American citizens duly elected to their office.
Why is he doing this?
Three reasons come to my mind. First, this is his re-election campaign strategy. He and his fellow Trumpist politicians want these four freshman Congresswomen to be seen as the face of the Democrats. He will campaign that they represent the “true” Democrats and that if any Democrat is elected you will have people with funny names and darker skins running the country into the ground. Remember that he started his run for the presidential nomination with the birther movement that claimed President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen and followed it up with his first speech from Trump Tower announcing his candidacy by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. It is a cynical and divisive deliberate strategy. It is a naked manipulation of people’s fears and emotions. It will get worse, especially since he sees no consequences to his actions. Republican politicians rolled over and now have no stomach for standing up to him. Probably, many will emulate him in their own campaigns, further dividing our country and demeaning our values.
Second, he is appealing to his base — and “base” may be the most correct term as he is using the basest of strategies to look for re-election in 2020. I knew there were racists in our country, I just did not know there were so many. And no, I don’t think every Trump supporter is a racist, but I fail to see how any policy he espouses or judge he appoints cancels out his obscene behavior that demeans the office he holds and besmirches the values of our entire country. Our country is an idea, a set of values, the search for “a more perfect union,” and not one based on ethnicity or who our ancestors might have been or the color of our skin.
Third, he is covering something up. Mr. Trump has a penchant for capturing the news cycle when he does not want us to look too closely at some other action or circumstance. My guess is that the circle around him and Mr. Jeffrey Epstein — the industrial level child sex trafficker — is getting tighter and smaller. They were known to hang together in the 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, in 2002 Mr. Trump is quoted in New York magazine saying that Mr. Epstein is a “terrific guy” and that “he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” How young? Mr. Trump hosted a party at Mar-a-Lago where he and Mr. Epstein were the only two male guests. All the others were young women flown in for the party. On Monday a bail hearing for Mr. Epstein was held in New York that included testimony from two of the young girls he abused. Is it possible that Mr. Trump was too personally involved with Mr. Epstein and his evil life style, even has the president says he “is not a fan”? “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
The President. Of the United States. Is using the most vile and divisive words and actions to open old wounds and make new ones for his own personal gain. And 98% of elected Republicans and millions of people think that is okay.
Historians will look back on this period and mark it as the end of the Republican Party. The Republicans will be right up there in the pantheon of failed political parties with the Whigs and the Know Nothings from the 19th century. The only question is how much damage to our country will they allow before they collapse.
In the meantime, we are in big trouble as a country. We lost our soul when this man became president. Every day we endure a new attack on our values and our Constitution. I fear that Mr. Trump has lowered every bar of common decency and that his words and actions put people’s lives in danger.
When does it end?