Donald Trump has made it clear that his re-election campaign will be based on straight-up racist appeals. After telling four congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from, he then turned his fire on congressman Elijah Cummings and said that the city of Baltimore which is encompassed by the district he represents is ‘rat-infested’. Do I need to mention that the city is majority African-American?
It seems quaint that just a week or so there were discussions in the media as to whether Trump’s tweets against the four congresswomen could be labeled as racist with some resorting to using euphemisms. Now there is little debate on that score from anyone other than Trump’s ardent supporters. Now the question is whether Trump himself is racist.
The difference between saying something racist and being a racist is the question of intent and it is this tiny window that Trump’s defenders are trying to exploit, saying that his critics do not know what is in his mind and they are wronging him by calling his racist. We are just a short step away from his defenders pointing to Trump having Ben Carson in his cabinet as evidence that he is not racist, and then we are almost in ‘he also has a black friend’ territory.
Watch this clip of Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney telling Chris Wallace, just after the latter had read a list of attacks by Trump on people of color and being asked why those were not racist, that Wallace was reading too much between the lines. Wallace immediately shot back that “I’m not reading between the lines, I’m reading the lines.”
"I'm not reading between the lines, I'm reading the lines." pic.twitter.com/mVXsuxw9HO
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 28, 2019
The Baltimore Sun, a major newspaper has editorially blasted Trump in manner that is unheard of in mainstream journalistic circles, even calling him a rat.
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream.
This is a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation. And given Mr. Cummings’ criticisms of U.S. border policy, the various investigations he has launched as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his willingness to call Mr. Trump a racist for his recent attacks on the freshmen congresswomen, and the fact that “Fox & Friends” had recently aired a segment critical of the city, slamming Baltimore must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way. Fox News rang the bell, the president salivated and his thumbs moved across his cell phone into action.
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one. [My emphasis-Mano]
The debate about whether Trump is really racist or whether he has merely said things that could be misconstrued as racist has well and truly ended. As Maya Angelou wrote:
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.
Short of putting a sticker on his forehead that says, “I’m a racist”, Trump has done pretty much everything he can to show us that he is a racist. Although he is an incorrigible liar, on this occasion we should believe him.