Trump lets racism rear its head

To the editor,

I have to admit, I feel like a cock-eyed optimist when, after the historic election of Barack Obama, I really thought we were on our way to a post-racial America. Ha! I have never been so wrong. In fact, Obama’s election woke an ugly white sleeping giant.

Obviously, America has a long history of racist actions and policies.

Back in the beginning, white Americans were given legally and socially sanctioned privileges and rights while these same rights were denied to other races and minorities. Affluent white Anglo-Saxon Protestants enjoyed exclusive privileges in education, immigration, voting, citizenship, land acquisition and criminal procedure throughout our history. Not much has changed.

Major racially and ethnically structured institutions include slavery, segregation, Native American reservations and boarding schools, naturalization laws, and internment camps. It’s an ugly history no one but a bonafide racist should be proud of. Formal discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and it came to be perceived as being socially and morally unacceptable. Until now.

Obama’s election was the tipping point for the large number of Americans who hold racist views. Donald Trump is the face of that reaction. The Trump family has a long history of racism that goes back decades. Donald’s father, Fred, at age 21, was arrested “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so” at a Ku Klux Klan rally/riot in Brooklyn. Fred continued his racist housing policies for several years after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made discrimination in housing illegal. When Donald took over the family business, the discriminatory policies continued. The Trump Management Corp. was sued by the federal government in 1973 for refusing to rent to African Americans. In 1983, the New York State Division of Housing found that two “Trump Village” residences were 95 percent white.

Trump’s statements and behavior speak for themselves. He placed ads calling for the execution of five young black and Latino men accused of rape, who were later shown to be innocent and when he and Ivana came to the Trump Casino, bosses ordered all the black people off the floor. Trump’s “birtherism” (the false charge that Barack Obama was not born in the United States) conspiracy theory was just what conservatives, Republicans, white nationalists and everyday racists wanted to hear.

His campaign caught on like wildfire and even today his support among Americans is about 45 percent and nearly 90 percent among Republicans. That’s depressing.

Some of your co-workers, family and maybe even friends support Trump and therefore his words and deeds. Even worse, many people out there will publicly rebuke him but secretly he’s their guy. Cowards.

So today, Donald Trump is president of the United States. “How does that make you feel?” asks the therapist. It makes ME pissed, and disgusted and depressed. Like it or not, on the world stage, Trump represents the American people. His words and actions are viewed as OUR words and actions. We elected him. We haven’t arrested or impeached him.

But it’s not just Trump. The entire Republican leadership and nearly all of the GOP either support Trump’s racist words, policies and actions or at best, remain silent. These chicken shits privately may condemn him but publicly? Crickets. After Trump’s most recent racist outburst, telling four brown and black duly elected female members of Congress to “go back where they came from” Senate Majority Leader Turtle neck McConnell told reporters “Trump’s not a racist.” Based on what? Where’s the evidence to back up that BS?

So the 2020 election season is upon us. Trump is clearly using racism and bigoted remarks as a campaign strategy. That’s the feature not the flaw. And it appears to be working! Trump’s favorability has gone up since his racist outburst. The poor saps that pulled the lever for Trump in 2016 can be forgiven (I guess) for wanting to stir things up and take a chance on someone totally outside of Washington.

Plus, Hillary was a deeply flawed candidate. I get it. But now that we’ve seen his policies, cruelty, countless lies, corrupt administration and incompetence, we have a chance to undo some of that damage. The world is watching. Are you racist, America?

– Bill Vana, Durango