The unrepentant racist who is our 45th president has never worn a Klansman’s hood — not that we know of, anyway. But, sadly, that’s what it would take for far too many Americans to acknowledge that a bigot resides in the White House.
As the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency approaches, columnists and bloggers and other pundits are gathering thoughts for their appraisals. How much damage has been unleashed by the Trump presidency? And what aspects of our government and national life have suffered the most from his carelessness and malevolence?
Race relations are at the top of that list, as the president himself confirmed with his “shithole” insult to Haiti and various Latin American and African nations. He bandied the vulgarity during bipartisan meetings on immigration reforms with members of Congress. Trump did not misspeak. Using gutter language, he merely verbalized what has long been in his heart.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” was the exact quote reported by people in the room. Some members present had suggested that immigrants from these countries deserved protections that allow them to reside in the U.S. legally when their nations have been hit with natural disasters. Trump, unimpressed by such humanitarian concerns, went on to complain that we don’t do enough to encourage more immigrants to arrive from Norway.
It isn’t difficult to read Trump’s mind. Black- and brown-skinned immigrants are bad. White immigrants from Nordic countries are good.
Yes, it’s that simple. Those of us who have black or brown skin have never been fooled. We’re just waiting for people more obtuse about the ways of prejudice to open their minds.
Of all the categories of people harmed since Trump took office — and, really, that includes the entire population and democracy itself — Latinos have borne the weight of this presidency like few other groups. As a candidate, he berated us as bad hombres, rapists and murderers, people who don’t belong in the U.S., so much so that walls are needed to keep us out.
The temporary status protecting Salvadorans from deportation is gone (many were stranded in this country after a series of earthquakes devastated El Salvador). Legal protections for similarly situated Nicaraguans and Haitians were stripped away last year. And Hondurans are awaiting their fate under this administration.
Trump has shown an undeniable pattern of xenophobia. Among his first actions as president was an executive order to try and keep Muslims out of the country.
Trump is still wishy-washy about will happen to the DACA recipients and the so-called Dreamers, people who were brought to the U.S. as children without visa authorization. Right now, some of them have limited immunity from deportation. Trump has used them as political hostages, saying that he’ll offer them a reprieve if Congress approves funding for the “great big beautiful wall” across the U.S.-Mexican border, a plan that is neither geographically or financially feasible nor a solution to national security.
And Trump’s disdain for African-Americans was set long ago. Recall his birther claims about Barack Obama. What better way to burnish one’s credential with the conspiracy-addled American right wing than to delegitimize the two-term tenure of America’s first black president. The unstated but crystal-clear subtext of birtherism was that the black man is not fit for the office.
How ironic. Trump owes his place in history in part to the fact that America showed its better side in 2008 when it first elected Obama. And some people have been ticked off ever since.
What will it take, America? How long will you continue to sit on the sidelines, to listen to the absurd rationalizations of Trump’s apologists? The man is a racist. Racism was a major part of his appeal. Racism is a major part of his governing strategy. This will have consequences.
The long-term damage Trump will do to our republic is not fully apparent. Congress, which is controlled at the moment by a Republican Party fully in thrall to the president, very likely will allow him to enshrine into law his attitude that non-whites are lesser citizens; his judicial appointees will carry out his will in cases on immigration law and voting rights and in ways yet unseen.
Only one thing is certain. Donald Trump will continue to befoul the office he holds and betray the principles of the “United” States of America — unless we remove him and his party from power.