Donald Trump is a racist. These are words that pretty much every Democrat running for president has uttered, along with pretty much every leftist in the news media and Never Trump former conservative. It is generally uttered with an air of gravity and profound conceit, as if to say, “I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips let no dog bark.” Well, I’m going to bark a little.
The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no consensus that Trump is a racist, nor at this point any consensus on what that term even means. A recent Fox News poll regarding the president’s comments, that the four women in Congress who form the socialist “Squad” should leave the country if they think its so awful, found a majority calling the comments racist. But among Republicans, a majority said they were not.
In fact more than a quarter of non-white people polled also came down on the not racist side. So, much to the chagrin of the chattering class and Democrats poised to exit the clown car and take the podium at the debates the next two nights, this is not settled science. Millions of Americans think Trump is just calling it like it is, rather than reveling in bigotry.
So we have to ask ourselves: What do people mean when with soulful solemnity they look at little red camera lights popping on, or grimace at their laptop while composing their latest article, and slam down that word racist? The fact of the matter is that they have no idea. Their editors and style guide gurus say, “Fine, yes, call him a racist, that’s fine.” But what does it mean?
Two incidents are most generally brought up. The first, which was a genuine, absolute example of real racism, was Trump’s suggestion that Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not fairly decide a case because he is of Hispanic ancestry. That was racist, and a cavalcade of Republicans came out and said so. The second, saying there were very fine people on both sides of the Charlottesville riots, was badly misrepresented by the media, but also not a great a look for the president.
So, by my scorecard, anyway, we have one blatantly racist comment from the president to go along with a handful of off-color remarks he’s made in almost a half century of public life. Does this make him a racist? Just the other day, Bette Midler suggested that any black person who supports Trump must be paid to do so. Does this mean Midler is a racist?
Joe Biden has suggested in that past that to even walk into a 7-11 store one must have an Indian accent. Is Joe a racist? This is where the equivocating comes in. Bette and Joe said racist things because we are all a little bit racist, goes the progressive shibboleth, it is built into the systemic horrors of the United States. But they are racists of the acceptable variety. As are most of their political team, apparently. Trump is what they call a “real racist,” but why? Again, what does this even mean?
The closest that I can get to an answer is that Trump is unrepentant. Yes, this is true. With almost no exceptions, Trump does not apologize. He says what he believes, leaves it out there, and we are all free to judge. And judge we do. And in the judgment of millions and millions of Americans, including non-white Americans, he is not a racist. What do we do about that? Are those people all racists too?
This week Trump claimed that Rep.Elijah Cummings is a racist. In my mind it’s an absurd allegation, but on the other hand, Cummings has badly served minorities he represents for decades. Under his representation, these constituents of his have not seen their fortunes advance. Is such negligence to a minority community a sound basis for an allegation of racism? I honestly have no idea. Because frankly, we have no idea what this once fairly clear term means anymore.
I won’t ask that people stop claiming Trump is a racist. It’s a free country, after all. But please, stop claiming that this is some dyed in the wool fact that we all have to accept. It isn’t, and we don’t. If someone thinks Trump is a racist, he should state his case, not pretend that his lived truth, or whatever, is obvious to all of us. Is Trump a racist? The only honest answer is that I have no idea.