Inflammatory rhetoric has typified Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his unusual post-election campaigning. Many of his outlandish remarks in his speeches and tweets have at least suggested elements of racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim sentiments.
His defenders, both inside and outside his inner circle, argue that it is just his style of speaking and is not actually indicative of his true feelings. Through a series of executive orders, memos and even a pardon, however, Trump has now provided his detractors with well-documented evidence of his racism, anti-transgender and anti-Muslim agenda.
One of Trump’s early executive orders was designed to stop people from certain countries from entering the United States “for 90 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.” (CNN)
This order was immediately labeled a “Muslim Ban” in social media since all of the countries on the list were Muslim-majority countries, namely Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Noticeably absent from the list was Saudi Arabia, the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers originated and the place where many Muslims have argued, the most extreme distortions of Islam originated.
It became clear this ban was not meant to actually curb terrorism but rather was a political tool intended to satisfy anti-Muslim Trump supporters who were promised a crackdown on “radical Islam.” At the same time, by excluding Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Arab nations, Trump also managed to ensure he did not disrupt the flow of commerce or his own financial interests in the region. Fortunately for refugees, federal courts shot down Trump’s Muslim ban, but the battle has now migrated to the Supreme Court.
The Trump Administration issued a memo on August 25 informing military commanders that they would soon have the power to stop transgender people from entering the military and also oust those already serving. Trump had been tweeting about this for some time, despite an outcry from LGBTQ activists and the general public.
The argument in favor of the ban is that the military should not be “burdened” with the medical costs of supporting transgender people or the “disruption” that having them serve causes. But those opposed to the measure insist the current policy already ensures anyone entering the military is stable and ready to serve, both physically and mentally. This ban is instead meant to discriminate against an entire group of people.
The phrase “Trump is racist” is quite common among people outside of his core group of supporters. Despite the seemingly obvious truth of the statement, his supporters have danced around the issue and tried to ensure the world that Trump loves all people. The fact that he has appointed “alt-right” leaders and has an unusually large neo-nazi following are mere coincidences rather than proof that the president is in fact a racist.
Before proceeding it is important to establish a working definition of racism. There are many, but for the purpose of this article, racism means “prejudice plus power.” When someone uses their power to discriminate or oppress based on prejudice, that person is racist. When Trump’s supporters say he is not racist, what they really mean is that he is not a bigot. He does not come right out and say he hates Blacks, Latinos or other groups of people, but while that does exclude someone from bigotry, it does not make them immune to racism.
At any rate, Trump’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio puts the debate to rest. Trump is racist, and we now have documentation proving it. Arpaio was the Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona where he oversaw systematic and illegal detaining of Latinos who had not committed crimes, solely to determine if they were illegal immigrants. The county jail became a place where routine abuse of prisoners took place.
These victims had no legal redress against a Sheriff, who held the county under his thumb, until a federal judge ordered him to stop. When he refused, the court’s only remedy was to find him in contempt, a paltry misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
Trump ended all of that by pardoning Arpaio and calling him “an American patriot,” effectively sanctioning ethnic discrimination, racial profiling and abuse of power. This abuse of power, as we have already established in the aforementioned declarative statement, is the very definition of racism. By supporting it, pardoning it and even championing it, Trump has now left us with documented evidence of his racism.
The three documented incidents are likely not the only ones, and there are sure to be many more before Trump’s presidency ends. He is racist, and this is no longer a matter of opinion to be debated over coffee. It is fact, and there is no “alternative fact” that will allow him to wiggle out of it. A president is defined by his policies, and Trump has now made it clear that discriminating against people of color, Muslims, transgender people and others is not just campaign rhetoric but administrative policy.
Moreover, anyone who continues to support him, knowing that he is racist, knowing that his policies are racist and knowing that he actively supports leaders of racist organizations is also racist. Trump supporters can no longer claim ignorance or that Trump is simply a fiery orator who routinely misuses words. His actions now match his words, and those actions are divisive, discriminatory and deplorable.