Trump's racism: When does he lose the benefit of doubt?



Whether it’s President Donald Trump or Brexit Party Leaders Nigel Farage, the one thing that they can rely upon is a decent society to continuingly give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes calling them out for racial slurs and whipping up a xenophobic and hostile environment.

It did seem that the President had crossed that line two weeks ago when he singled out for special attention four US Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley. Trump stated that these women ‘originally came from countries that were totally broken and crime infested stating that they should ‘go back home’. These women, all women of colour were told that they were ‘anti – American’ and enemies of America. If those racial slurs couldn’t get any worse, a few days later he doubled down at a rally saying, 'Hey if you don’t like it, let 'em leave, let 'em leave'". After whipping the crowd into a frenzy they began chanting: ‘Send her back! Send her back’, in reference to Congresswoman Omar.

In the past he has referred to Mexicans as murderers and rapists, and he  repeatedly refers to areas of the US where Latin or African American politicians govern, or their heritage as being ‘infested’ or ‘s***holes’.  Language you’d associate with vermin that should be exterminated.

When the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen and other far-right groups marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, with one supremacist murdering Heather Heyer, a counter-protester by driving his car into a crowd, the President said nothing about white supremacist. In fact he said there ‘are bad people on both sides’.

Therefore, is it really any surprise that in this climate of racial hatred and white supremacy, that one individual would go on to post his manifesto of hatred towards Hispanics, then drives 9 hours and slaughters 22 people and injures dozens more?

All of this and still there are many who would give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Yesterday for example, a former White House foreign policy advisor, was asked on Radio 4’s Today programme, whether or not the President had fuelled the fans of racism and emboldened a white supremacist to do what he did? “Well”, he replied, “ we know the killer wrote a manifesto stating that he was addressing the invasion of ‘Hispanics’ to America, but we can’t be clear about is whether  there is any correlation between the rhetoric of the President and the killer’s actions.”

Presidential Candidate Beto O’ Rourke had a sharply different view. In an interview on CNN, he seemed exacerbated that the discussion was even up for question, stating: “Press people, what the f**k! It’s these questions you already know the answer to.  Join the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not solving racism he’s promoting it. He’s not dealing with racism; he’s inciting racism and violence…”

And in what is an unprecedented move for a former President to criticise a sitting President, Barack Obama wrote:  “Americans must soundly reject language from any leader who feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalises racist sentiments”.

Closer to home Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has played a similar game of fuelling racism during the Brexit referendum with his infamous ‘Breaking Point’ poster and in other equally race bating poster he stated that 70 million Turkish people – the whole population - would come to the UK, if Turkey joined the EU. That’s a bit a like saying 500 million Europeans will come to the UK, because they can.

Whether it’s President Trump or Brexit party head Nigel Farage, the language that uses ‘flooded’, ‘invasion’, infestation’ is the language of fear and hatred. The damage and divisions these demagogues are causing could take decades to repair.

But as decent people we should no longer be giving these individuals the benefit of the doubt. Any leader who is prepared to normalise racist sentiments should be abruptly called out.

Stop the racism!


Simon Woolley