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“I Can Relate It Really Very Much To Myself”: Asked About Race, Donald Trump Gives The Wrong Answer

Given recent violence in Texas, Minnesota, and Louisiana, race is very much on the minds of many Americans, including Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee sat down with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last night, where Trump was able to explain why he believes he can relate to African Americans.

O’REILLY: There [are] still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them. The American system because they’re black, they don’t get the same kind of shot, they don’t get the same kind of fairness that whites do. What do you say to them?

TRUMP: Well, I have been saying even against me the system is rigged when I ran as a, you know, for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system and the system is rigged.

When the host told the candidate this sentiment probably won’t lift anyone’s spirits, Trump responded, “No, what I’m saying is they are not necessarily wrong. I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play. I’m not saying that. And I can relate it really very much to myself.”

Asked if he believes he can understand the African-American experience, Trump added, “You can’t truly understand what’s going on unless you are African-American. I would like to say yes, however.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

First, let’s quickly note that the GOP’s presidential nominating process was not, in reality, “rigged” against the candidate who prevailed. Trump didn’t understand how states chose delegates to the national convention, but that doesn’t mean the system itself was manipulated unfairly.

Second, for Trump to believe his experiences winning the Republican nomination helps him “relate” to African Americans is so painfully bizarre, it would do real and lasting harm to a normal presidential candidate.

But even if we put this aside, one of the most striking things about Trump’s perceptions of current events is his narcissistic myopia. For Trump, the importance of the mass-shooting in Orlando is something he once said on Twitter. For Trump, the importance of Brexit is how it might affect his golf course. For Trump, the importance of African-American alienation is how similar it is to his treatment during the GOP primaries.

Ask Trump about almost any issue, and he’s likely to respond with a sentiment that boils down to, “That reminds me of me.”

To put it mildly, it’s an alarming personality trait.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Bandwagon Effect”: How Trump’s Dog Whistles Work

The headline from an article by Jill Colvin and Matthew Daly caught my eye: Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Feel That Black Lives Matter Is ‘Inherently Racist.” Here’s the context:

Trump also had harsh words for the Black Lives Matters movement, which has organized some of the protests. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, labeled the group “inherently racist” over the weekend in an interview with CBS News.

“When you say black lives matter, that’s inherently racist,” Giuliani said. “Black lives matter. White lives matter. Asian lives matter. Hispanic lives matter. That’s anti-American and it’s racist.”

Asked whether he agreed with Giuliani’s assessment, Trump said the group’s name is “divisive.”

“A lot of people agree with that. A lot of people feel that it is inherently racist. And it’s a very divisive term,” he said. “Because all lives matter. It’s a very, very divisive term.”

We could talk about the racism being expressed by both Giuliani and Trump in that exchange. But the framing of Trump’s statement is something he does very often; “A lot of people agree with that. A lot of people feel…” It is a logical fallacy called argumentum ad populum.

…a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it: “If many believe so, it is so.”

We sometimes call this the “bandwagon effect” captured by the Chinese proverb, “three men make a tiger.”

“Three men make a tiger” refers to an individual’s tendency to accept absurd information as long as it is repeated by enough people. It refers to the idea that if an unfounded premise or urban legend is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be erroneously accepted as the truth.

Jenna Jones noticed Trump’s attachment to this fallacy about a month ago and documented how he used it to spread his conspiracy theories. For example, when he was asked to explain a statement about how President Obama doesn’t understand Muslim terrorists, he said this:

“Well,” Trump said on the “Today Show” Monday morning, “there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be.”

Here’s what he said in an attempt to insinuate that the Clintons were involved in the death of Vince Foster:

“I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it,” Trump said in an interview with The Post in May. “I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

Jones points out that this is how Trump maneuvers in order to be able to backtrack when circumstances require him to do so.

Trump frequently couches his most controversial comments this way, which allows him to share a controversial idea, piece of tabloid gossip or conspiracy theory without technically embracing it. If the comment turns out to be popular, Trump will often drop the distancing qualifier — “people think” or “some say.” If the opposite happens, Trump can claim that he never said the thing he is accused of saying, equating it to retweeting someone else’s thoughts on Twitter.

What is important to remember is the part about why he does it in the first place. It is a way for Trump to give a wink and a nod to white supremacists and conspiracy theorists to say, “I hear you, I’m with you.” That is his way of doing dog whistle politics.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2016

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Roger L. Simon Gets Racism Backwards”: Racism Made A Comeback Because It Worked Politically For Republicans

I think The Field Negro is actually a little too polite about Roger L. Simon’s essay blaming Democrats for the deterioration in race relations in this country during the Obama Era.

I just wonder if Mr. Simon is aware of the psychological projection involved in his conclusion.

Just a few years later, the scab appeared very much healed with the inauguration of America’s first African-American president, a man who would be elected twice. I didn’t vote for him for policy reasons, but his election brought tears to my eyes as a former civil rights worker. America’s long nightmare, as Dr. King might have put it, was over, at least as over as things could be in this imperfect world.

But it wasn’t – not by a long shot. It went the other way. Driven by what I call in my book “nostalgia for racism,” racial enmity was brought back as surely as Michael Corleone was pulled back in in Godfather III.

Why?

Power, of course. The Democratic Party relies on the perceived reality of racism for the identity politics on which it feeds. Racism is the lifeline of the Democrats. Votes lie there.

I agree that the explanation for our curdled race relations lies in the quest for power, but not in the way that Simon says.

It was certainly possible to treat President Obama the way that Morgan Freeman asked to be treated by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, as a person rather than as a black person. But that’s not the way he was treated. From at least the time of the Beer Summit with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the right chose to attack the president on racial grounds. No white president would have felt compelled to produce their birth certificate just to quell the cacophony of nonsense he was encountering that threatened to drown out everything he wanted to prioritize.

This wasn’t necessary. John McCain showed some actual restraint during his campaign in refusing to make a major issue out of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and in making the decision to dispute accusations by his supporters that Obama is an Arab or a Muslim. After McCain’s loss, however, no one of similar stature stood up to quiet down those same racially charged accusations.

The Republicans were fully supportive of the Tea Party revolt, and the result was the end of Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and 18 Republican candidates for president (not named Trump)’s careers. They were all shortsighted, but they made their mistake because they put their quest for power over their responsibility to show real moral leadership.

I can’t identify a single thing that President Obama has gained by being subjected to this racism, and he certainly didn’t encourage it. I doubt very much that he got any votes out of it, although the Republicans certainly lost a few. On the whole, though, ramping up racial polarization helps the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives because a racially divided country divvies up the districts in a way that is advantageous for the white party. Racial minorities are much more regionally concentrated.

The truth is, most Republican officeholders probably aren’t all that racist, but “votes lie there” and it takes actual moral fiber to make the decision that some power isn’t worth having on some terms.

Racism made a comeback because it worked politically for the out-party. But it quickly devoured them, and now they’re left with a nominee who all decent people cannot support.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2016

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Birthers, Racism, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump Backer Says He’s Running ‘As A Racial Healer'”: Is Trump Prepared To Acknowledge His Role In The Problem?

Donald Trump has been called all sorts of things over the course of his controversial presidential campaign, but yesterday was probably the first time anyone, anywhere, said he’s positioned to play the role of “racial healer.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), a vice presidential contender, and the host noted that he’s heard from “a number of Latino-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Native-Americans, Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, all expressing concerns about some of the things Donald Trump has said.” The Republican governor insisted most Americans have the same security concerns, regardless of who wins the election.

It led to this amazing exchange.

TAPPER: Respectfully, governor, you didn’t answer my question. Do you think Donald Trump has campaigned as a racial healer?

FALLIN: I think he is trying to campaign as a racial healer. I think that has been part of his message….

In case you’re curious, the governor said this with a straight face.

This comes on the heels of the Trump campaign issuing a statement on Friday morning, responding to the mass-shooting in Dallas, which read in part, “Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.”

Questions about racial tensions are inherently difficult and multi-faceted, and Trump has done little to help answer them. But if the presumptive Republican nominee is correct, and tensions have intensified, is Trump prepared to acknowledge his role in the problem?

Slate’s Catherine Piner put together a lengthy collection of incidents involving Trump’s racially divisive campaign tactics, adding, “His observation about racial tensions is especially curious given the many racially and ethnically divisive statements he has made.”

I’m also reminded of this column in June from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

The things Trump is doing now – disparaging the “Mexican” judge, disqualifying Muslim judges, calling somebody claiming Native American blood “Pocahontas” and singling out “my African American” – is very much in line with what he has been doing for the past year, and before.

More than six months ago, I began a column by proposing, “Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.” His bigotry went back decades, to the Central Park jogger case, and came to include: his leadership of the “birther” movement suggesting President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, his vulgar expressions for women, his talk of Mexico sending rapists into America, his call for mass deportation, his spats with Latino news outlets, his mocking Asian accent, his tacit acceptance of the claim that Muslims are a “problem” in America, his agreement that American Muslims should be forced to register themselves, his call to ban Muslim immigration, his false claim about American Muslims celebrating 9/11, his tweeting of statistics from white supremacists, his condoning of violence against black demonstrators and his mocking of a journalist with a physical disability.

This assessment – a sampling, really, of Trump’s record on matters of diversity and respect – was published a month ago, and things have gotten even worse since.

All of which brings us back to the truly breathtaking assertion that Trump is “trying to campaign as a racial healer.” The next question for the GOP candidate’s allies is, if the last year is what it looks like when Trump is trying to bring people together, what would it look like if he were trying to tear us apart?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mary Fallin, Racism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Every Republican’s Stench”: Trump’s White Supremacist Tweets Aren’t The Problem. They’re A Symptom Of The Problem

We get worked up about a lot of silly stuff in presidential campaigns, micro-controversies driven by faux outrage that are inevitably forgotten in a couple of days once the next micro-controversy comes along. On first glance, that’s what the kerfuffle over Donald Trump’s latest Twitter hijinks — once again, passing on something from white supremacists — looks like. After all, should we really care what’s in Trump’s Twitter feed, when we’re talking about our country’s future? The answer is that we should care, but it’s not about the tweet. The tweet isn’t the problem, the tweet is the result of the problem.

In case you haven’t heard, here’s what we’re talking about, from The Post’s David Weigel:

It was so close to the message that Republicans say they want from Donald Trump: a tweet describing Hillary Clinton as “crooked” and the “most corrupt candidate ever,” on the morning that the likely Democratic presidential nominee met with the FBI.

But the image that Trump chose to illustrate his point, which portrayed a red Star of David shape slapped onto a bed of $100 bills, had origins in the online white-supremacist movement. For at least the fifth time, Trump’s Twitter account had shared a meme from the racist “alt-right” and offered no explanation why.

Trump’s campaign later did some quick photoshopping, replacing the Star of David with a circle. But as Anthony Smith of mic.com discovered, the image originated on an online forum where unapologetic racists and white supremacists gather to bathe in each other’s vomitous hate. I assume that, as with the other times Trump has retweeted something from the alt-right, he was unaware of its origin; one of his followers tweeted it to him, he liked what he saw, and he passed it on.

It’s just a tweet, and in and of itself it doesn’t make Trump a racist or an anti-Semite. To be honest, it doesn’t even make the top 20 most bigoted things Trump has said or done in this campaign. But it should leave Republicans with even more questions about how to square the ideals they claim to hold with the man their party has chosen to lead the United States of America.

We have to understand that this is about both rhetoric and substance. There’s a stylistic element, the way Trump gives people permission to let their ugliest feelings and beliefs out for display under the guise of not being “politically correct.” But there are also meaningful consequences for the course we would take in the future. Trump tells voters to hate and fear people who don’t look like them, but he also tells them to take action. Just the other day he told a crowd that “We are going to be so tough, we are going to be so smart and so vigilant, and we’re going to get it so that people turn in people when they know there’s something going on,” complaining that too many people are worried about being accused of racial profiling to turn in their neighbors. So if you spot a Muslim, go ahead and dial 911. When a woman at one of his events suggested that we “Get rid of all these heebeejabis they wear at TSA, I’ve seen them myself,” Trump responded, “We are looking at that. We’re looking at a lot of things.” I’ll bet.

By this time we’ve all become accustomed to this pas de deux of hate between Trump and his supporters. When he says that a Latino judge from Indiana can’t do his job because “he’s a Mexican,” we shake our heads. When he tells an apocryphal story about a general executing Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as a lesson in how America ought to act, our shock doesn’t last more than a day. When he laments the fact that the Islamic State can behead people while we’re restrained by our laws and morality, saying “They probably think we’re weak” and “You have to fight fire with fire,” we barely take notice. When he weds his support of bigoted policies like bans on Muslims to a fetishization of violence and brutality, promising to use torture and telling his supporters how he’d love to beat up the protesters who come to his rallies (“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya”), we predict that any day now he’ll “pivot” and start acting “presidential.”

And we forget that not long ago the man now leading the GOP made himself into America’s most prominent birther, going on every TV show he could to claim that President Obama might be the beneficiary of a decades-long conspiracy to conceal the fact that he was actually born in Kenya. If you’re wondering whether that’s just stupid and crazy, or if it’s inherently racist, let me clear it up for you: Yes, it’s racist.

In my analysis of American politics I try as often as possible to put myself in the shoes of people I disagree with, to take their arguments seriously and understand where they’re coming from even when I’m convinced they’re wrong. And I’ve argued that there are perfectly rational reasons a committed Republican would grit their teeth and support Trump even if they found him to be an ignoramus and a buffoon. But there comes a point at which one would have to say: Even if a Trump presidency would deliver much more of what I would want out of government policy, from the Supreme Court to domestic policy to foreign policy, I simply cannot be a part of this. Donald Trump’s appeal to Americans is so rancid, so toxic, so foul that my conscience will not allow me to stand behind him, even with the occasional protest that I don’t agree with the latest vile thing he said, or the insistence that my fellow Republicans and I will do our best to restrain his ugliest impulses.

You might respond: Easy for you to say. Would I be saying that if I had something to lose, if we were talking about some liberal version of Trump who had secured the Democratic nomination? If it meant handing the Supreme Court over to conservatives, and repealing the Affordable Care Act for real, and privatizing Medicare, and dismantling environmental and worker protections, and so many other things that would pain me?

To be honest, I can’t say for sure, partly because I cannot fathom who a liberal version of Trump would be or what that person’s equally noxious campaign would look like. The closest analogy in my lifetime to this situation is the Lewinsky scandal, where Democrats argued that although Bill Clinton’s behavior in having an affair with a 22-year-old White House staffer was repugnant, it wasn’t an impeachable offense and could be separated from his performance as president.

But the difference then was that it could be separated from his performance as president. Clinton wasn’t trying to persuade the country to embrace adultery, or counting on fellow adulterers to put him in office, or promising to institute a government program of adultery.

Donald Trump isn’t hoping that he can keep his bigotry a secret; he’s running on it and promising to enshrine it in federal government policy. He may not be responsible for all the things his fans say, and you might even excuse him for passing on some of their hate by mistake. What he is responsible for is all the reasons those people became his fans in the first place. It isn’t because of economic anxiety, or because he’s an outsider, or because he tells it like it is. It’s because Donald Trump appeals directly to the worst in us, and the worst of us.

And every Republican who stands with him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them or how much they wish he would change, will have that stench on them for a long time to come.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, July 4, 2016

July 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Racism, Republicans, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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