In the wake of the events in Charlottesville– especially in the wake of the White House’s reluctance to name and blame those responsible and yesterday’s return to a defensive insistence on the equivalence of “both sides”– it has become much more difficult for Trump apologists to deny what has been obvious to many of us since well before the Presidential campaign: this needy, damaged ignoramus desperately needs to feel superior to others, and the “others” he feels most superior to are minorities.
His entire campaign was a none-too-veiled appeal to bigotry. His base is populated with “alt-right” figures–Klansmen and Nazis like David Duke who enthusiastically endorsed him and whom he refused to repudiate. As a recent column in the Guardian noted,
Duke, in Charlottesville on Saturday, told the USA Today Network: “We’re gonna fulfil the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s gonna take our country back.”
Neo-Nazis and the so-called “alt-right” have been a crucial part of the Trump base. Critics have noted the nods, the winks, even the Republican national convention speech, with its giant screens and logos that bordered on fascist parody.
Trump’s bigotry, and especially his racism, is neither new nor recently adopted for reasons of political expediency. This is a man who has been sued for refusing to rent apartments to blacks, who flogged “birtherism” in order to delegitimatize a black President, and who has filled his administration and the White House with unapologetic white supremacists.
Trump’s attorney general is Jeff Sessions, who has long been dogged by accusations of racism. His chief strategist is Steve Bannon, who once proudly said of Breitbart News: “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”
Trump’s deputy assistant is Sebastian Gorka, who has worn a medal awarded to the Hungarian group Vitezi Rend, linked by some to Nazi collaborators. Gorka said last week: “It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t … go to Sinjar. Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today. Go to Manchester.”
A president’s actions and words can only do so much, but they can create a climate in which certain groups, attitudes and mindsets flourish. Trump, 71, will not switch course now, for as Michelle Obama once observed: “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”
Paul Krugman’s Monday column in the New York Times, titled “When the President is UnAmerican” is worth reading in its entirety; it is impossible to disagree with his conclusion.
These days we have a president who is really, truly, deeply un-American, someone who doesn’t share the values and ideals that made this country special.
In fact, he’s so deeply alienated from the American idea that he can’t even bring himself to fake it. We all know that Trump feels comfortable with white supremacists, but it’s amazing that he won’t even give them a light tap on the wrist. We all know that Putin is Trump’s kind of guy, but it’s remarkable that Trump won’t even pretend to be outraged at Putin’s meddling with our election….
Whatever role foreign influence may have played and may still be playing, however, we don’t need to wonder whether an anti-American cabal, hostile to everything we stand for, determined to undermine everything that truly makes this country great, has seized power in Washington. It has: it’s called the Trump administration.
I will repeat what I have said previously: when Trump’s poll numbers finally hit bottom and stop their slide (when the people who held their noses and voted for him because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary or desert the GOP have deserted him), the extent of American bigotry will be starkly obvious.
Trump’s loyalists are America’s White Nationalists, Nazis and racists. We’re about to see just how many of these despicable people there are.