President Donald Trump keeps trying to convince any disbelieving holdouts that he is a raging racist. At least, that’s how I imagine his motives. In truth, it is more likely that his truest nature is simply being revealed, again and again, and he is using his own racism to appeal to the racism in the people who support him.
On Sunday morning, the same day the Trump administration earlier announced it would conduct raids to round up undocumented immigrants, Trump weighed in again on the conflict between four female freshmen congresswomen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tweeting a series of three of the most racist tweets he could produce:
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly …
… and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how. …
… it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
Those progressive congresswomen are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts.
First, the facts: The country Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley “originally came from” is this one. They were born in America. Omar was a refugee from Somalia.
But, this is the most important fact: They aren’t white, and they are women. They are “other” in the framing of the white nationalists. They are descendants of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs.
It sees a country from which black and brown people come as deficient — “a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world” — because, at its base, it sees black and brown people as deficient.
It is a form of white identitarianism, which opposes multiculturalism but refuses to deem that opposition racist.
And so, it chafes when these black and brown women from exotic-sounding places with exotic-sounding names would dare to challenge the white patriarchy in this country. Why do they not know their place? Why do they not genuflect to the gentry? Why do they not recognize — and honor — the white man’s superiority?
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years of exploiting black bodies for free labor.
And, for the entire history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
America was born with a congenital illness, and it has been in need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has often rejected the curative treatments and regressed.
Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James Baldwin once put it, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who represent the future face of America — by 2055, the majority of Americans will be nonwhite, according to the Pew Research Center.
But, Trump — and many of his supporters and defenders — spew their racism and tell themselves that it is perfectly acceptable when it is read back to them, in much the same way that a dog will eat its own vomit.
There can be no more discussion or debate about whether or not Trump is a racist. He is. There can be no more rhetorical juggling about not knowing what’s in his heart. We see what flows out of it.
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And, self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it.
We are watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow citizens — possibly a third of them — reveal to us their open animus for us through their continued support of him.