Racism has been an inherent part of America since before our founding as a nation fueled by slave labor. It is baked into the basic systems that make up our institution of government and infuses all aspects of our society. And just as it takes a fierce and sustained fight to cure a body of cancer, it will take unwavering focus and determination to rid America of the disease of racism. That begins with a “Surgeon in Chief” who wields the mighty scalpel of justice in defense of the whole body of America.
The recent deaths and destruction in Charlottesville and the impotent response of our president are only the most recent outward signs of a festering infection that afflicts the very soul of our nation.
More than 48 hours after Charlottesville erupted in racial unrest, President Trump responded with a statement that I have already criticized as too little, too late. Then, somehow, he descended even further on Tuesday. We all watched in stunned amazement as the leader of the free world effectively nullified anything positive he had said the previous day. When he proclaimed that both sides had fault, and that there were good people among the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, he played to the worst common denominator of our society. Trump is unapologetically racist. He plays to the racist base over and over again.
Trump is not the first president to look the other way regarding racism and thereby fuel its growth. President Andrew Johnson granted amnesty to Confederates, using states rights as a cover to allow racism to grow and intimidate people of color in Southern states. After the Civil War, he was a staunch opponent of the 14th and the 15th Amendments, which gave blacks equal protection under the law and the right to vote. After Tuesday’s news conference, we can see that he didn’t just look the other way, Trump boldly cleared domestic terrorists — white supremacists, neo-Nazis — of their wrongdoing.
The inherent racism that runs through American systems grew out of a need to legitimize, preserve and later replace slavery with less obvious forms of subjugation.
Today, I can declare without pause that President Donald Trump has now firmly established himself as the most racist president this great nation has ever seen.
This is based on not only Tuesday’s bizarre backtracking comments, but on Trump’s long history of actions that speak as loudly as his narrow-minded words about Charlottesville. Trump says he likes facts, but his actions and his history show that he has no use for facts whatsoever.
Trump’s goal is to perpetuate a system that is already stacked against people of color and he achieves that goal by emboldening his white racist base.
We remember that Trump rose to political prominence on the birther issue, when he — for years — wrongly accused our first black president of not being an American. He clung to his made-up story as fiercely as he could, hoping to undermine President Barack Obama’s validity. Trump is not only a racist, he is the King of Conspiracy — conjuring up whatever narrative suits his master plan to take this country back to its most despicable times, when people of color were regularly ridiculed, enslaved, and lynched, when black men couldn’t vote, and when little black children couldn’t go to school with white children. Trump’s goal is to perpetuate a system that is already stacked against people of color, and he works to achieve that goal by emboldening his white racist base and validating their prejudiced beliefs.
Long before that, Trump made it his personal mission in 1989 to call for the punishment of five innocent black teenagers who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in New York City, young men who were cleared of the crime by DNA evidence. He forked out $85,000 on full-page ads that referred to the group as “muggers and murderers” and called for the death penalty in the city’s four daily papers. The common denominator? The teens were black — and when a suspect is black, conclusions and allegations are made regardless of the facts. Trump emboldened racists then, too.
Then there is the matter of Trump’s refusal to rent apartments to people of color in the 1970s and ’80s, prompting a Justice Department lawsuit against him for discriminating against blacks. Next we see the noticeable shortage of black members of his Cabinet today. And we think about his choice of Jeff Sessions as attorney general — despite the racism Sessions exhibited as attorney general in Alabama when he attempted to prosecute innocent black people for voter fraud, chilling participation of blacks in voter registration drives.
Trump defended his delay in decrying the Charlottesville violence Tuesday, saying, “You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts.” Well, we have the facts, and here’s my direct statement: Donald Trump is the most racist president in U.S. history — and we haven’t even made it through his first year.
If we look at the evidence, we see that Trump has never valued black lives and he never will. Standing at a lectern and delivering the comments he did on Tuesday — comments that brought former KKK leaders like David Duke out to celebrate him, comments that further roused white supremacists and neo-Nazis — is sickening.
America is at a tipping point. Trump will be Trump — he will not change. His pattern of unapologetic racism will not change. And his tacit or explicit defense of the ugliest underside of his base will continue to fuel and embolden the darkest forces in our country.
The cancer of white supremacy is metastasizing on the internet and spreading onto our campuses and streets. It is up to every American of morality, integrity and humanity — Republican and Democrat; white and black; Christian, Muslim and Jewish — to denounce the evil we witnessed in Charlottesville in the clearest and strongest possible terms. We must provide the leadership our president lacks.
The forces of brotherhood must stand up to the purveyors of hate in this battle for America’s body and soul. Our future as a great nation depends on it.