Donald Trump has been obsessed with race the entire time that he has been a public figure.
It started in the 1970s and ‘80s, when he was a New York real estate mogul. His casinos and apartment buildings had a record of treating black people differently from white people. In 1989, he inserted himself, for no good reason, into one of New York’s rawest racial controversies, by taking out ads calling for the execution of (wrongfully accused) suspects in the Central Park jogger rape case.
More recently, Trump’s political rise was built on — and there is no other accurate way to say it — racism. He became a star on the right by promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. Trump then launched his presidential campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists. His signature proposals were building a wall to keep out Mexicans and banning all Muslims, including U.S. citizens abroad, from entering the country.
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. I understand why, too. It’s better to err on the side of caution with something as explosive as the r-word.
But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist.
Yes, some of his individual comments aren’t about only race. (You can favor less immigration without being a racist.) Yet the full picture is clear as can be.
He treats people differently based on their race. Specifically, he treats people who aren’t white worse than people who are. That — as Trump’s ally, Paul Ryan, once said — is the textbook definition of racism.
After Trump’s vulgar insult about Haitians last week, I set out to compile a definitive list of his racist comments, with help from colleagues and readers. The full version is online and includes video where available.
I realize that this exercise may feel like a particularly depressing way to mark Martin Luther King’s birthday. (For spiritual cleansing, I recommend taking a little time today to watch one of King’s great speeches.) But today, of all days, is one to recognize who Trump is.
The president of the United States is a racist, in thought and in deed. He is pursuing policies designed to harm blacks, Latinos, Arabs and Asian-Americans. The country can’t effectively fight back — and undo the damage — unless we acknowledge reality.
The most damning evidence is Trump’s own words:
“Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump once said, according to a former colleague, while complaining about an accountant. “I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
“I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that,” Trump said on television in 1989. “I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”
Trump referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping.”
He repeatedly described Barack Obama as unqualified, lazy or un-American: He claimed Obama wasn’t born here, was “a terrible student,” played golf instead of working and “issued a statement for Kwanzaa but failed to issue one for Christmas.”
Trump explained his Muslim ban was “no different” from the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II.
He said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University had “an absolute conflict” because the judge was “of Mexican heritage.”
Trump frequently casts heavily black cities as dystopian hellscapes. “Our inner cities, African-Americans, Hispanics are living in hell,” he said.
He is slow to mention terrorism or hate crimes committed by white people, like the 2017 killing of an Indian man in Kansas.
He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful. He referred to one as a “son of a bitch.” He called Puerto Ricans who criticized his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria “politically motivated ingrates.”
He has retweeted white nationalists without apology. He called some participants in a white-supremacist march “very fine people.” He was reluctant to distance himself from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader. He has tweeted anti-Semitic caricatures and neo-Nazi conspiracy theories.
In a meeting about Pakistan, he wondered aloud why a Korean-American intelligence analyst briefing him was not working on North Korea policy.
While speaking with Navajo war veterans, Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.”
At a 2016 rally, Trump pointed to one attendee and said: “Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him.”
Trump said last year that recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts.” Last week, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and more from Norway. His specific point was that Haitians were inferior to Norwegians.
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