Muftic: If Donald Trump is not a racist, what is he?
If President Trump is not a racist and rightly claims to the press he is “the least racist person you ever interviewed,” then what is he?
For the sake of argument and to take his word for it, then he is a demagogue who is manipulating with his words and actions a significant number of those who are his base of supporters.
A recent firestorm erupted when Trump met with some Republican members of Congress and one Democrat Jan. 11 over the issue of DACA and immigration. Trump was purported to have called African countries “s—tholes” and asked, “Why we need more Haitians? … Take them out.”
The icing on the cake that many say definitively illustrated his racism was his preferring Norwegian immigrants to immigrants from countries comprised of people with black or brown skin.
Some GOP members attending the meeting either claimed they did not hear the word “s—hole” or they did not recall it.
One who was present and who declined to deny Trump said those words, however, was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Verifying it to the rafters was the only Democrat attending the meeting, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Graham and Durbin had come to the meeting with a bi-partisan plan, but the acrimony that resulted led to the partisans in the Senate digging in their heels, opposing compromise in votes on the budget, which resulted in the government shutdown.
What is a racist, anyway?
Googling the definition yields various results and even long winded opinion pieces. Definitions of what is a racist may vary, but what they all have in common is that racists believe one race is superior to another and they discriminate against racial groups.
It is a difficult case to make that Donald Trump is not a racist. He has a lifetime history of words and actions with which he has frequently shown disdain for those of color and advocated policies harmful to them. Donald Trump was a leader of birtherism, has a record of discriminating against minorities in his rental property, and painted all illegal immigrant Mexicans as rapists and murderers, to name a few instances. More examples have been listed by journalists, but these examples are the most frequently cited.
However, let us assume he has been putting on an act.
In his heart, he is not racist, but he continues to speak out and to act like one. It has been his shtick that has helped get him elected and he has reason to believe it will work the same way in the future. Does that make him a demagogue?
There are a variety of definitions of a demagogue, depending on which dictionary is searched. In current culture it is defined in the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy as “a politician who seeks to win and hold office by appeals to mass prejudice. Demagogues often use lies and distortion” or “a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob,” according to the Collins English Dictionary. By those definitions alone, Trump fits the profile.
Is it possible he could be both a racist and a demagogue? The most plausible view of Donald Trump is that he is a natural melding of the two. His own deep long-held feelings about race have been joined with his impressive oratorical skills to rally large crowds.
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