Is Donald Trump a racist? No, he is a New Yorker. Trump is an equal opportunity offender. He’s not a racist. Being a racist requires ideology. Trump is transactional. He’ll take anyone’s money. He’s not racist. He’s a narcissist incapable of caring about anyone unable to please him. When he says he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body or reassures Americans that he is the least racist person they will ever meet, I believe he believes that. Trump is no respecter of persons – not in that good nondiscriminatory Jesus way but in that uncharitable, unsympathetic, unfeeling, uncaring, certainly not empathic way.
Think back to when Trump offended the Muslim Gold Star parents, the Khans, suggesting Ghazala Khan stood silently next to her husband at the Democratic convention because, as Muslims, he did not permit her to speak. Compare that to the many moments when Trump’s wife stands silent by his side. He sees no double standard. He is absolutely consistent in his worldview: Everyone is an object to be manipulated. Unsurprisingly, his entire moral framework is based on gaming ethics – that is how he runs his businesses and his politics.
As Charlottesville, Virginia, blew up this week from racist tensions, Trump said that “many sides” were responsible for the violence and, in one case, death. When challenged on his statement, Trump doubled-down to clarify that he meant what he said while the sane world waited for Trump to clarify by condemning the white nationalists and them alone. No doubt Trump is puzzled why so many people did not accept his blanket analysis. He did say that everyone is to blame. In his mind, he was the fairest of all.
Trump’s narcissism prevents him from seeing what regular people see. Decent people know racism when they see it. It was on full display in Charlottesville. Trump is genetically unable to discern these injustices. Take any number of racist incidents attributed to Trump and his narcissism can explain it all away. He attacked the Muslim Gold Star parents. The narcissist in him thinks, well, they attacked me first. A federal judge ruled against Trump University. Well, of course, he did. The judge is of Hispanic descent and must not like the idea of Trump building a wall. That could be the only reason the judge ruled against him, as he sees it.
Charlottesville was not Trump’s first association with white supremacists. Early in his presidential campaign, racist David Duke endorsed Trump and Trump feigned to even know who Duke was – except for the fact that Trump had little trouble calling David Duke a racist when Duke vied with Trump for control of the Reform Party nomination for president in 2000.
People earn their worth in Trump’s world and the ones who are worthy are precisely the people who help him get whatever he wants when he wants. More shocking than Trump’s seeming racism is all of the so-called reasonable people who work for him and counsel with him who continue to defend his displays of narcissism. Watch the clip of General Kelly at the recent Trump Tower press conference as Kelly watches his boss answer questions about Charlottesville. Kelly is dumbfounded. But what will he do about it? Evidently, nothing. There is no future in calling this boss wrong.
A last word about racism. Many conservatives are now saying that words are not violence. Despite this pathetic attempt to deflect political pressure while defending their standard-bearer, that statement is simply not true. Evidently, according to the United States Supreme Court, the First Amendment is not absolute. Why is it unlawful to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater? Well, because someone could needlessly get hurt. The same legal principle applies in situations such as Charlottesville, in my opinion. Avowed and proud racists marching in demonstration is permitted but only up to a certain point of expression. Someone needlessly could get hurt. And someone did.
Yes, no ideology is exempt or immune from crossing the line of provocation. In that sense, Trump is correct in casting wide blame (although I am quite sure he doesn’t even know why). But Trump is wrong to suggest that the violence in Charlottesville was the result of many forces. It wasn’t. The violence in Charlottesville was the result of white supremacist racists. If they weren’t demonstrating, at least one human being would still be alive.