Why Donald Trump will soon revert to his race-baiting ways

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Donald Trump took on a lot of new beliefs in his campaign to become the Republicans nominee for president. Guns? Oh, he loves ’em. Health care? Gotta get rid of that satanic ObamaCare. Abortion? My goodness, does he ever hate it. He didn’t used to believe all that, but he says he does now. There are some things, though, that you can be pretty sure Donald Trump sincerely believes because he’s been saying them for decades. For example, he’s always thought that we’re getting taken to the cleaners on trade. More broadly, he thinks we’re a country full of losers — that’s been a staple of his public comments for a long time. And though he has said, “I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks,” that’s not exactly so.

In the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the murder of five police officers in Dallas, some in the media praised Trump for his relatively measured response. His campaign released a statement that contained none of his usual bluster and seemed to encourage unity and healing, which was uncharacteristic, to say the least. But don’t be fooled into thinking that for more than a moment or two he’s going to be dealing with these kinds of issues with sensitivity and respect. It’s just not who he is.

Trump insists, “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered” (and offers as proof his friendship with Don King). I have no way of proving what is or isn’t in his heart, but what I can say is that he has a long history of stoking racial animus against African-Americans.

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The most vivid example may be the case of the “Central Park jogger,” a white woman who was attacked and raped in 1989. Five teenagers — four black and one Hispanic — were accused of the crime, and what ensued was a public panic over “wilding” minority teens terrorizing white people. In that volatile atmosphere, Trump took out full-page ads in the city’s major newspapers, condemning “roving bands of wild criminals” and saying “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Even when the young men were exonerated, Trump complained bitterly about the fact that the city reached a financial settlement with the five to compensate them for the years they had spent in jail being punished for a crime they didn’t commit. “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels,” he wrote, echoing what is said so often about black men killed by police.

And let’s not forget that before he ran for president, Trump made himself into the country’s foremost birther, claiming not only that Barack Obama might be a foreigner who had falsified his birth certificate, but that he, Trump, had dispatched investigators to Hawaii to uncover the truth. You might have noticed that despite his insistence at the time that the investigators “cannot believe what they are finding,” he never produced their blockbuster revelations, which may be because there may never have been any investigators at all.

Whether the whole thing was a put-on or not, the point is that Trump went on a crusade that is undeniably racist, trying to convince people that the first African-American president was not American at all. And that’s not all he’s questioned about Obama.

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Trump also demanded to see Obama’s grades from college, on the grounds that he could only have gotten into Harvard Law School as an undeserving affirmative action admission. “I heard he was a terrible student, terrible,” Trump said. “How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? …I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything, and they can’t get into Harvard.” In other words, accomplished white people were passed over so this no-good black kid could get in.

Though even if Obama had been an affirmative action admission, which he wasn’t, wouldn’t that be the best argument for affirmative action in history? After all, Obama performed well enough to become editor of The Harvard Law Review, and did go on to have a pretty successful career, what with being president of the United States and all.

But it wasn’t a new idea for Trump. “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market,” he said in 1989. “If I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.” Not like little Donny Trump, who had to crawl his way up from nothing to get where he was, right? It would have been far better for him not to inherit millions from his father, but rather to have just had black skin. Then everything would have been laid before him.

Let me give just one more example. You might recall that last November, Trump tweeted an image he got from a neo-Nazi on Twitter, full of made-up statistics alleging to show how violent black people are. Featuring an illustration of a black man brandishing a gun, it claimed among other things that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual number is 15 percent).

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This tweet got some attention, but not nearly as much as Trump’s recent one about Hillary Clinton that contained a Star of David over a pile of money. In the more recent case, there’s an innocent explanation, whether or not you believe it: Trump may not have understood the anti-Semitic nature of the imagery, and retweeted it without thinking, simply to make the point that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.

But in the case of the phony black-on-white crime tweet, the racist message was the whole point. Trump’s only purpose in sending it out to his millions of followers was to say: Look at how violent black people are and how much we whites should fear them.

There’s a reason why so many racists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are so excited about Trump’s candidacy, and it isn’t economic anxiety or dissatisfaction with Washington gridlock. He can take a conciliatory tone for a few days, or protest that no one in the world believes more strongly in the equality of all peoples than he does. But we won’t have to wait long before he shows us who he really is.

We know because we’ve seen it so many times before.

Syndicated from The Week



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