I think racists are bad. It’s not that easy to tell one in real life, though. I suspect that there are some people in my life who secretly harbor racist tendencies, but don’t let those around them know. I mean, if you’re in the KKK or active on the internet in white supremacist circles, then I think it’s pretty clear. But what if you’re a white guy who uses the N-word? I have early memories of my father using that word. Does that mean he was a racist? The way he used the word (which was not often), actually taught me that it’s not a word I want to use. In the same way that his lifelong smoking and his alcoholism made me a lifelong non-smoker and teetotaler. He was also a sports fan, but the kind of white guy sports fan who would complain about how black athletes would act and then cheer the white athletes really loudly. Does that make him a racist? The excuse is sometimes offered that it was a different time. Everybody acted that way. And it’s true that his attitudes changed (or at least what I observed changed) somewhat as the years went on. The N-word use went away entirely and I saw that skin color didn’t seem to be as important to him as how his teams did. Of course, by that time, I wasn’t living under the same roof as him, so do I really know? But maybe it doesn’t matter. If you lean racist, but realize how bad you’ll sound to other people so you keep it quiet, that seems like progress.
What brought all this up was the tweetstorm authored by the Donald this morning. I’m not going to link that here. If you follow politics, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you can go to twitter and find it pretty easily. The gist is that he referred to some Democratic women members of Congress as being not from the US and that they should go back to their countries and help run those places, rather than try to tell us what to do. Although he didn’t use their names, from context it looks like he was referring to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC), Ayanna Pressley (@reppressley), and Rashida Tlaib (@reptlaib). These women of color are US citizens and all three were born in the United States.
Now, I come at this from the perspective of a Democrat and liberal, who is inclined not to support the Donald anyway. But if I pose the same questions that I did for my father, I come to a clearer conclusion on the Donald’s racism. My father was 76 years old when he passed away last year. The Donald just turned 73 last month. So they’re of the same generation. There is a pretty good indication that the Donald was pretty racist in the 70s and 80s and even later than that. There are reports that he used the N-word in the 2000s. He was the most prominent instigator behind the “birther” controversy where he insisted that the only black President should have to show his papers. Really the list is just too long to cite here. So, based on the “is he a racist” questions I asked about my father, the Donald was as bad or worse than the typical white guy from that “different time”. But, rather than change his opinion, or at least the way he showed himself to others, the Donald has not gotten better, but has gotten worse.
But is some of that for political gain? Could he realize, as a Republican, he needs to appeal to the majority white base and, because he realizes the shock value of what he says and does as President gets him media attention, he plays the part. Are we supposed to fall back on the idea that, we shouldn’t call someone a racist because we don’t really know what’s in their heart? Or maybe is it for financial gain, like when he was on The Apprentice and he figured taking extreme positions would make sure that people would tune into his show? Or maybe he’s just an attention whore, who needs to be the center of attention and will go all birther because that’ll get him in the news? Probably not even he knows why he says what he says and does what he does. But I’m not one who believes in the 13th dimensional chess theory that says the Donald is just playing a high level game that we mere mortals can’t understand. No, I think Occam’s Razor works here. The most simple explanation is the truth. The dude is just a straight up racist. Hates people of color. Wants white supremacy. The whole deal.