The Case for Trump’s recent racism is surprisingly thin

Over the past couple of years, I’ve challenged a couple of people to produce evidence that Trump is racist. The response is usually a lot of spluttering and outrage, but to this day I’ve never seen strong evidence. In fact the first time I did so we ended up agreeing that, while Trump’s father was without question thoroughly racist, his son is really a very different person.

Interestingly I discovered to today that there’s a handy Wikipedia article outlining all the charges against Trump. There’s an extensive listing of incidents, but those incidents are… thin.

Let’s go through the recorded incidents since becoming president.

Immigration policy

On January 27, 2017, via executive order, which he titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, President Trump ordered the U.S border indefinitely closed to Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war. He also abruptly temporarily halted (for 90 days) immigration from six other Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. A religious test would give immigration priority to Christians over Muslims. Human rights activists described these actions as government-approved religious persecution. The order was stayed by Federal courts.[86][87] The Trump White House would go on to issue revised versions of the ban on March 6, 2017 and September 24, 2017.

Let’s face it, we all know about this. It’s not racial – at worst it’s about religion. I note that there is a section of US law that requires the US government to prioritise Christian refugees.

Black Caucus

In a February 2017 presidential press conference, White House press correspondent April Ryan asked Trump if he would involve the Congressional Black Caucus when making plans for executive orders affecting inner city areas. Trump replied, “Well, I would. I tell you what. Do you want to set up the meeting?” When Ryan said she was just a reporter, Trump pursued, “Are they friends of yours?”The New York Times wrote that Trump was “apparently oblivious to the racial undertones of posing such a query to a black journalist”….

In March 2017, six members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Trump to discuss the caucus’s reply to Trump’s campaign-rally question to African Americans, “What do you have to lose?” (by voting for him). The question was part of Trump’s campaign rhetoric that was seen as characterizing all African Americans in terms of helpless poverty and inner-city violence.[89]According to two people who attended the March meeting, Trump asked caucus members if they personally knew new cabinet member Ben Carson and appeared surprised when no one said they knew him. Also, when a caucus member told Trump that cuts to welfare programs would hurt her constituents, “not all of whom are black”,[90] the president replied, “Really? Then what are they?“, although most welfare recipients are white.[90] The caucus chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond, later said the meeting was productive and that the goals of the caucus and the administration were more similar than different: “The route to get there is where you may see differences. Part of that is just education and life experiences.”

So here there are 3 potential issues.

  1. Trump acted like he thought a black journalist would know members of the black cacus. Oh, the horror.
  2. His campaign was painted as “characterizing all African Americans in terms of helpless poverty and inner-city violence.” Except, that’s not what that means at all.
  3. The president asked what her non-black constituents were.

So point 1 is Trump expecting a black journalist to know the members of the black caucus. Point 2 is misstated to make Trump look bad and point 3 is Trump merely asking a question.

In other words, all 3 points are people injecting their interpretation into something. None involve particularly gross insults or overt offensive actions. At worst, we’ve got some ignorance and/or poor use of language.

Derogatory statements towards Haiti and Nigeria

In June 2017, Trump called together a staff meeting to complain about the number of immigrants who had entered the country since his inauguration. The New York Times reported that two officials at the meeting state that when Trump read off a sheet stating that 15,000 persons had visited from Haiti, he commented, “They all have AIDS,” and when reading that 40,000 persons had visited from Nigeria, he said that after seeing America the Nigerians would never “go back to their huts.” Both officials who heard Trump’s statements relayed them to other staff members at the time, but the White House has denied that Trump used those words and some of the other officials present claim not to remember them being used.

So we have some hearsay, which is not verified.

Assuming they’re true, people in Africa do live in huts. A lot of people who see the USA don’t want to go back to the poorer standard of living. I suppose that’s offensive to people in Nigeria who have a good quality of life, but again, it’s on the milder end of the insult scale.

Now, the comment re: AIDS is pretty nasty. Haiti is one of the poorest places on earth, and it is such partly thanks to the USA (and other western nations). If he did say that, it’s a pretty nasty thing to say, even as a joke. But it’s about immigrants from a particular country, it says nothing about their race. He could just as easily have said that about people from say, Romania, a poor country where white people live.

Hurricane Maria

In September 2017 after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and decimated services across the island, the Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulín Cruz went on television to plea for help and accused the federal response of fatal inefficiency. Trump responded with a series of tweets claiming that the Puerto Rican leadership were “not able to get their workers to help” …

And he was right. The Mayor grandstanded and blamed Trump instead of getting hold of local drivers to get the aid out. It was a disgusting act on her part, one of the nastier episodes of Trump hatred. But even in the Wikipedia article, there’ no suggestion of racial animosity. The Mayor did her stunt in front of the delivered aid. The federal government came through, it was her failure that hurt the people.

Pardon of Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio is a guy who makes a show of being tough on law and order. It’s quite clear that Trump pardoned him because his supporters saw his prosecution as going after a guy for enforcing the law.

Like with other instances here, if there’s any racism, it’s indirect and very much in the eye of the beholder, rather than overt actions.

NFL racial inequality protests

Trump sided with people (i.e. his voters) who were sick of politics (and slander against police) being injected into sport.

Charlottesville rally

Trump (correctly) pointed out that there were violent proters on both sides. This didn’t match the left’s view of the protests, ergo, racism. Scott Adams has a really good blog article here. It’s a pretty straightforward case.

The simple fact is, Trump rejected the racists, (and did so more clearly once people started reading things into what he said) but because he also recognised that there were people on that side who were not bad people, that’s been interpreted as him siding with racists. Which is crazy.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren pretended to be Indian. Trump, and most of the right, mocked her for that. Not racism.

“Pretty Korean lady”

In an intelligence briefing on hostages held by a terrorist group in Pakistan, Trump repeatedly interrupted the briefing to ask an Asian-American intelligence analyst who specializes in hostage situations “where are you from?” After she told him she was from New York he asked again and she clarified that she was from Manhattan. He pressed with the question until she finally told him that her parents were Korean. Trump then asked one of his advisers why “the pretty Korean lady” was not negotiating for him with North Korea.[135][136][137] NBC News characterized this exchange as Trump having “seemed to suggest her ethnicity should determine her career path”.

TLDR: Trump said something dumb, media pounce and put on the spin.

People do see this sort of comment as racist, but (once again) it’s relatively minor stuff.

“Shithole countries”

a) “Trump reportedly said”

b) Well, they are. That’s why people leave.

This is another “it’s racist because Trump did it”. And of course it has nothing to do with race.

White Farmers in South Africa

Weirdly, Wikipedia pretends this is a conspiracy theory, not the open position of the South African government. They want to take farmer’s land, and they’re not going to pay for it. Trump’s against that, so should everyone else be.

And that’s it. That’s every supposed “racist” thing Trump’s done since he became president, according to Wikipedia.

Trump’s an ass, and he shouldn’t be president. But he’s not racist, if this is the evidence.

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