Opinion | President Trump vs. Red Flag Racism
Why the Democrats’ “Trump is racist” narrative is not only dangerous — it doesn’t hold water
In January 2017, President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office against a cacophony of backlash and liberal resistance. Buzzwords like racism, bigotry, and xenophobia had become tools with which to divide a nation. A handful of democrats and television pundits called for his impeachment before he was ever sworn in, lending to the idea that efforts to discredit the President were purely partisan.
“We think that President Trump will be in violation of the Constitution and federal statutes on day one, and we plan a vigorous offense to ensure the worst of the constitutional violations do not occur,”
-Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director (Comments prior to Trump taking office.)
The Atlantic ran an article just this month entitled Trump’s Racism: An Oral History, in which they set out to prove the president is racist by highlighting 6 comments and situations he’s been in over the past 45 years. (Two are gossip and they admit, not prove-able. One is a complete fabrication. The other three happened, but have nothing to do with race.)
When he does say the right thing, it falls on deaf ears. Following a racially motivated shooting in El Paso, TX; lawmakers and Democratic Presidential hopefuls sang a resounding chorus of “we don’t care” after Trump’s condemnation of hate and white supremacy — adding fuel to Republican speculation that all this race talk is more about political optics than it is about anyone actually being racist.
Why is the “racism” drum being beaten so loudly?
Racism has become a dangerous, yet effective political tool. Racism, bigotry, and xenophobia have become the battle cry of the Democratic party. The treacherous war they’re waging isn’t about proving someone is displaying discriminatory behavior, it’s about redefining these terms to fit their narrative.
A decade ago, the accepted definition of racism (according to Webster) was: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” The left, post-President Obama, determined that the best way to forge a path forward was to paint those who opposed the first black president as having harbored racial animus. The culture war that the left is winning pertains to their ability to re-frame racism as a feeling, as opposed to a concrete racist occurrence.
The progressive mantra has become, “If you feel like someone is doing something you disagree with — they are probably motivated by race, and they must be racist!”
People are being demonized as racist instead of being led into civil discussions about disagreements. Whereas racism and bigotry used to have concrete definitions, in 2019, racism can now mean something different to each individual. Anyone is allowed to “identify” as a victim of racial bias and disparity based on their feelings, instead of relying on concrete definitions of these derogatory terms.
When compared to other presidents, isn’t Donald Trump racist?
When President Trump claimed he had done more for minority communities than any other president, Politifact went on a truth-finding mission all the way back to Abraham Lincoln to prove him “wrong.” Indeed other presidents were in charge during times of more radical racial change and steps toward equality, but beyond those, the claim isn’t easily refuted.
President Trump’s record on race definitely doesn’t reflect the “racist” rallying call many Democrats have sounded (often for political reasons). Since taking office, minority unemployment rates have plummeted to historic lows.
“From 2009 to 2015, the incomes of black Americans fell by more than $900 per family adjusted for inflation…”
-Stephen Moore, Chicago Tribune
The president signed into law the First Step Act — despite much fervor within his own party — to help stem the over-incarceration of African Americans who are in prison for non-violent drug offenses (a holdover of Clinton-era crime policy).
The president allocated over $1.2 billion for furthering the education, vocational, and technical training of Americans who haven’t gone to college. These programs are heavily utilized by minorities. (While it’s billions of fewer dollars, this is essentially the same type of reparations plan that Democratic Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has proposed.)
Earlier this year, Rasmussen conducted a poll finding that 33% of likely voters believe that the lives of black Americans have been improved since President Trump has taken office — up 20% from President Obama’s last year in office, when only 13% of likely voters believed the lives of black Americans were better off.
“If Trump is actually racist, as biased mainstream media ‘journalists’ often claim, he’s remarkably bad at it, because people of color have thrived under the pro-growth policies of the Trump Boom.”
-Steve Cortes, CNN political commentator
President Trump has also worked to develop “Opportunity Zones,” offering businesses tax incentives for long term investors of low-income areas. These lower-class communities are disproportionately people of color.
The Trump team hasn’t stopped at minorities — women have also gained ground in his administration. He has appointed more female senior advisers than any previous president and has appointed more female judges than any of his GOP predecessors.
“Racism” isn’t a punch the left has only landed on Donald Trump. Other Democrats have even been caught in the cross-hairs when they’ve bucked the establishment. Recently, Democratic Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard was accused of racism for not pandering to women of color. (She is a woman of color herself.)
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After Gabbard called Kamala Harris to account for her disastrous record as a prosecutor, the media pivoted to a conspiracy smear about the congresswoman rather than asking for Harris to clarify her controversial record — which included keeping people of color in prison beyond their sentences for cheap labor.
But, aren’t his immigration policies racist?
Regarding President Trump’s controversial record on immigration, many “resisters” point to comments that President Trump made about immigrants as proof of a white nationalist leaning.
According to Pew Research, illegal immigration hit a fever pitch in 2007 under President Bush with 6.9 million illegal immigrants crossing the border that year. While most agree immigration is a great builder of jobs, innovation, and ideas in the US, illegal immigration has the potential to wreak havoc on local governments and communities, even as it may yield a net zero on the federal level.
President Obama earned the nickname “Deporter-in-Chief” when he stemmed the flow of illegal border crossings and sharply increased deportations. Under his tenure, deportations of illegal immigrants were up 80%. The number of illegal immigrants living in the US dropped to 5.4 million — the lowest it had been in 15 years.
For his part, President Trump has continued to deport illegal immigrants at approximately the same rate. There are now roughly 4.9 million illegal Mexican immigrants living in the US. Illegal border crossings from Mexico have gone mostly unchanged. Crossings peaked in 2000 at 1.6 million annually. Then-President Bush cracked down on illegal crossings, ending catch and release, and left office having sawed the illegal crossing figures in half.
President Obama picked up the mantle, driving illegal border crossings down to a 40 year low before leaving office. Initially, there was a large decline in illegal border crossings under President Trump, but those numbers have leveled off and now remain largely stagnant — although illegal crossings have increased sharply this year.
“…the office comes with the responsibility to enforce the nation’s laws — laws that require that the borders be secure and that some of the people who aren’t legally authorized to live here be deported, after being afforded due process.” — The New York Times editorial board, July 2019
Less controversial than its unlawful counterpart, legal immigration is widely accepted as an enormous benefit to the US economy — especially immigrants with higher education. Even so, Trump has seen a backlash from the far-right who believe that he hasn’t cut legal immigration enough. At the same time he’s being flogged for not holding to a harder line on immigration by the political opponents on his right; President Trump is pegged a racist by the political opponents on his left and accused of sending “dog whistles” to his own critics. Overall, President Trump has stood strong in his support of legal immigration.
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Under President Trump’s leadership, the US has seen a drop in legal immigration, much to the consternation of politicians in both parties. The government has found itself in a stale-mate concerning legal immigration reforms because of the President’s desire for a merit-based immigration system and the inability of Congress to enact legislative reforms.
Progressive whistle-blowers also point to President Trump’s executive action concerning immigration from Middle Eastern locations taken when first entering office in 2017 as “racially charged.” His actions were aimed at countries riddled with terror and political unrest who were unwilling or unable to provide appropriate vetting for people entering the US. (It is important to note, however, that Saudi Arabia — historically, one of the largest state sponsors of terror — was not included on that list.)
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While President Trump’s words may strike a chord with some as callous and insensitive — it is not racism.
Pointing out a country or a town’s significant shortcomings isn’t a discriminatory practice — nor is cursing while doing so, however un-presidential some may find it. He has also blasted white, life-long Republicans for their complicity in a neoliberal system that has caused massive issues in rural towns and the industrial mid-west.
Beyond his words about places like Baltimore, are actions. Trump supporters themselves have traveled to the city to help clean up some of the poorest neighborhoods. This, of course, has not been widely covered in the mainstream media. Nor has the interview in which the city’s mayor famously commented while touring a Baltimore community:
“What the hell? We should just take all this sh*t down. … Whoa, you can smell the rats. … Whew, Jesus. … Oh, my God, you can smell the dead animals.”
-Catherine Pugh mayor of Baltimore, 2018
The most referred to example of President Trump being racist came when the President referred to some of the world’s most corrupt countries as “sh*t-holes”, and while that rhetoric seems harsh, it doesn’t make it untrue or racist — furthermore he wasn’t targeting the population, but the governments of these countries.
The latest example being used is President Trump’s tweets concerning the group of four progressive Democratic congresswomen. Most would agree President Trump attacks his opponents without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, or otherwise.
“When white opponents criticize him, he tries to cut their legs off. He attacked the four Democrats in Congress for clearly political reasons, and his rhetoric was no harsher than he used against Jeb Bush, a fellow white Republican.” -John Zmirack, The Stream
Regardless, the internet was alight with claims of racism at the President’s words despite none of his comments having anything to do with race. To the consternation of his opponents, he argued Ilhan Omar (MN) whose parents immigrated from Somalia, Rashida Talib (MI) whose parents immigrated from Palestine, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) whose family is from Puerto Rico; should acknowledge the blessing it is to live in America and stop publicly condemning the nation that’s given them such economic and political opportunity.
These comments are controversial, jarring, and possibly thought-provoking — but don’t have to do with discrimination or racism. America is arguably the reason for the conditions in Somalia that drove Ilhan Omar’s family to the US, so while it would be easy to sympathize with accusations of insensitivity or contextual ignorance — it isn’t racist.
So what is President Trump guilty of? Mostly being boorish.
There is a danger to defining racism, sexism, and xenophobia in such loose and immeasurable terms. The significance of using expressions like these becomes lost and when something truly egregious occurs — the public is more willing to turn a blind eye. In other words, it’s harder for people to believe after seeing so many instances of unearned racial prosecution being harnessed for political gain.
In short, it seems the push to define President Trump as racist has more to do with redefining the word to include more victimization and political divisiveness than it does actual racism. For his part, the President could focus on specific instances and statistics, dropping racial or geographical generalizations, however honest they may be.
Unfortunately, adopting more politically correct speech patterns isn’t likely to stop the barrage of racial and controversial buzzwords being thrown out by his political opponents. The President could gain the understanding that something although true and meriting discussion — would ultimately be unhelpful when said without tact.
He’s opted instead to dig his heels in and not give any ground to those who would say he is doing anything but putting American interests first — which isn’t racist.
Secret Coran-Stacy is an author, entrepreneur, and a senior contributor to CitizenSource, writing with a focus on U.S. elections and politics, media criticism, and immigration. She hails from Little Rock, Arkansas.
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