Why do People like Trump Believe they are not Racist or Sexist?

I think we need to do a bit of analysis of why some people, like Trump, can believe they are not racist, sexist, or whatever, when they say and do the grossest things.

This comes about through a combination of accepting so-called positive stereotypes of people with disabilities, black people, women, etc., but then having a problem with a particular individual or group, which is when the dark side of the stereotype reveals itself. What is problematic here is the stereotype itself - not whether the positive or negative side of it shows at a particular moment.

So Trump believes that all disabled people are “wonderful”, and if you pressed him on it he would probably say that they are wonderful because they develop fantastic personalities due to what they have to overcome. This is what the disabled community calls the “myth of the super-crip”. Because he sees disabled people merely as a category, and not a collection of individuals (who are a mixture of good, bad and indifferent like everyone else), it is easy to impose a popular stereotype. It is also easy for him to flip the stereotype over and go into disability shaming mode when a particular individual (like the journalist Trump mocked) contradicts that stereotype by doing something he considers ‘bad’.

The same is true of Trump’s attitude to women. He says he “loves women”. Yes, in the sex-object stereotypical way, he probably does. Then when individual women accuse him of sexual assault, he has no problem producing the dark side of the stereotype, calling them sluts or man-hating dykes. It is the fact that he has that stereotype in the first place that makes him sexist, not specifically whether he is in ‘love’ or ‘hate’ mode at any particular time — the former always implies the possible emergence of the latter at any moment he is confronted with an individual or group he doesn’t like.

The danger though is his complete lack of insight. His acceptance of the ‘positive’ stereotypes makes him think he is pure and clean. We need to call out the so-called positive stereotypes and make clear that they are not really positive at all: they are just the other side of the same racist, sexist, disability-shaming coin that Trump flips into the air with glee. It can land either side up, and both sides are to be condemned.