Thursday, July 18, 2019

Racists Among Us

It's nothing new, you know. They've always been here. They are our neighbors, our colleagues and our families. They are everywhere.

What's different? Well, President Donald Trump is what's different. He doesn't talk about welfare queens. He doesn't only talk about criminals. He doesn't use the requisite buzz words. He cuts straight to the heart. With time, his filters, which barely existed anyway, have virtually disappeared. No more do you just hear about troubled cities, or whatever it is they were saying before he showed up on the scene.

Now it's, "Send her back." This is red meat for his racist target audience. Let's get rid of that woman. After all, not only is she a woman, but she's a woman of color. Not only is she a woman of color, but she's a Muslim. Not only is she a Muslim, but she wears a hijab. Not only is she a hijab-wearing Muslim woman of color, but she supports Al Quaeda. Also she's an anti-Semite. 

Actually, she doesn't support Al Quaeda. She's never claimed to, despite Trump's lies otherwise. And I've seen no evidence she's anti-Semitic either. She opposes the Israeli government and its policies. Actually, the Israeli government is the Israeli government. It's not Judaism. But Trump can make that leap of logic, tell lies, and get the racists all hyped up.

Here's the thing about racists, though. I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, surrounded by them. Racists tend not to like Jews either. I learned this the hard way. I don't believe for one moment that the Trump supporters in North Carolina would stand for me any more than they'd stand for Rep. Omar.

Some of Trump's supporters are Jewish. Maybe they don't understand the nature of racism and bigotry. Racism and bigotry is intolerant of The Other, and that's what Jews are. Maybe you're Jewish, and maybe you support Israel. That doesn't mean you have to hate Muslims, and it doesn't mean you have to support Trump. He would go after you in a New York minute. If you don't believe that, just take a look at how he treats New York. I don't suppose I'm the only one who noticed he's cut our tax deductions so we could send more money to the red states that support him, the ones in which he holds his odious rallies.

What's really dangerous here is Trump has as much as told his racist audience that their racism is acceptable. They don't need to hide it anymore. His campaign rallies are celebrations of bigotry and racism. Those who attend don't care about his outrageous and demonstrable lies. He's told them their racism is okay, and that's good enough for them. As long as they can be openly racist, it doesn't matter that he showers tax breaks on those who don't need them (at the expense of his rally-goers) and deprives Americans of health care.

This has been building in the United States for decades. It began with Reagan, or maybe Nixon. It accelerated when Reagan got rid of the Fairness Doctrine and enabled Fox News. If you aren't watching The Loudest Voice on Showtime, about Roger Ailes and Fox, take a look. If you haven't got Showtime, make friends with someone who does.

America is at a turning point. Are we going to officially become an outright and openly racist nation, with pockets of tolerance? Are we going to allow blatant misogyny, bigotry and racism to be the unquestioned coin of the realm? Or are we going to fight and win against this would-be despot who rips families apart, places children in cages, and appeals to our very worst base instincts?

In little over a year, we'll find out.
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