by John James Audubon (born Haiti, 1785)
So Donald Trump runs a campaign based on racism. His very first remarks, Day One, castigating Mexicans as criminals and rapists. He constantly winks and tweets at the vilest form of white nationalist haters, inviting them to enjoy the prospect of an acceptability not known in this country for 100 years.
And yet we're surprised. We seem to be surprised to hear him on Thursday, in the Oval Office, refer to "shithole countries" such as Haiti and El Salvador and parts of Africa.
Why is that? Is this complicated? What's not to get? Why is it so slow to sink in?
There is an aspect of racism that is just hard to believe, that is hard for the modern thinking American to realize forms the basis of the worldview of people like our president and his supporters.
Set aside the obscenity for a moment. The logic, to stretch the term, of such a statement is the central fallacy of white supremacy: You are where you come from. Nationality is destiny. To be a good person you must come from a good place, because bloodlines are destiny. And good places are white places. Because, being white, we need white faces around us. Diversity is genocide. That's a quote. "Diversity is genocide." They are so insecure about themselves that every difference undermines their existence.
So if real Americans don't come from shitholes like Haiti or African nations, where do they come from? Oh right. From Germany, like Donald Trump's grandfather, and the Scandinavian countries, from Great Britain and a few other traditional sources of white people. Except of course if they're Jewish. Or Catholic.
You do realize that we all come from "shithole countries." Nearly all of us. Every black or brown person, every Jew and Muslim, every Italian and Irish immigrant—maybe not now, but in the day.
You don't have to be a bigot to support Donald Trump. You just have to frame reality a certain way. I ran into plenty of Jews at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, yarmulkes firmly bobby-pinned to their heads, going all out for Donald Trump, willing to overlook the fact that he is making our country more dangerous for Jews and every other minority with a puff of hope and a focus on his slightly-more-fervent-than-Hillary support of the equally-right wing administration currently in power in Israel. The kind of Jews who pinned on their WWI medals before being loaded into the truck.
|Red Shouldered Hawk (Metropolitan Museum of Art)|
Or value your job.
Raj Shah, the deputy press secretary, whose parent immigrated to this country from India, which is not Norway either, issued this statement defending the president:
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”The classic shifting of the discussion away from the undefendable toward something that almost makes sense, or might, if you ignore the central point. Trump is a racist. His supporters are either racists or willing to be blind to racism. Like most feel-good drugs, it takes a momentary high—the boost of unearned self-approval—at the risk of enormous long term harm. They would undo our nation and our modern world to maintain their fragile sense of superiority. They are in the act of undoing it now.
I'd like to end with something hopeful, but I got nothing. Vote every Trump-enabling Republican out of office this November and fight for something better. This isn't who we are, yet. But it is who we will be, if we don't stop them.