Donald Trump: The modern age of racism


You have to go back more than 150 years to find a more racist American president than Donald Trump. In 1865 President Andrew Johnson, assumed the presidency because Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, said about African Americans that “they were incapable of self- Government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren’t closely supervised."

Given that slavery had barely been abolished when Johnson made those statements, some argue that in historical context President Trump’s racial outburst against Congress women Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, was so much worse.

President Trump as always flirted with racism labelling some African countries, ‘s**tholes’, calling illegal Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’, perpetuating the Obama ‘birther conspiracy’. During the Charlottesville disturbances in which a white supremacist mowed down marchers resulting in the death of a young woman, and other supremacists took to the streets, Trump said, “There were good and bad people on both sides”. There are many more incidents that could collectively be characterised as ‘dog whistling’, a term used to describe a tone in which a designated base you are pandering too will readily understand what you mean without being specific.

But it seems a more emboldened President has just thrown away the dog whistle and will just tell his base that these four senior elected officials - all women, all non-white, that they don’t belong in the USA, that they should go back to “where they are from”, even though three of four were born in the US, the forth, arrived there as child. Trump told the four women, ‘Go home and sort out those crime infested countries’. Answering his critics about his racist rant, the President doubled down and said, ‘If they don’t like it they can leave’. Where? Who knows, they are all American and US elected Congresswomen.

Never before in anyone’s lifetime in the US has a sitting President sought to divide a nation on Black and white dividing lines. The four women represent, Latin American, African American, Muslim American and American women of colour. In a not so subtle abuse, particularly how these optics plays out, Trump is telling white America, ‘have a look at what your enemy looks like’. And then he goes on to say they are ‘anti- American’, ‘anti- Israel’ and should ‘go home’.

It is breath-taking racism which the Republican leadership have largely ignored. And whilst abroad there has been widespread condemnation, here in the UK the two conservative leadership candidates - Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt could only call it ‘unacceptable’ and ‘wrong’, which is deeply troubling given they were quick to label Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn an ‘anti -Semite’, a week or so ago.

I’m not sure where America goes after this. Trump’s venomous comments cannot be ignored, but to overly focus on them, on the ground that Trump wants to fight, plays into his hands that this a fight for ‘white America’ against ‘non-white’ America.

Sadly, President Donald Trump will readily sacrifice the soul of America to stay in the White House.

Simon Woolley