Since he announced his candidacy for president, Donald J. Trump has serially assaulted the sensibilities of…..well, just about everybody. Everyone remembers his inaugural smear of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. His appearance before a group of Jewish leaders and praising them for “making good deals” was a Trump classic. In a bizarre cross-cultural slur, Trump has made Muslims his personal piñata. And all along black Americans knew, just knew, that it was a just a matter of time.
Donald Trump managed to insult every woman who does not aspire to look like a runway model when he went after Carly Fiorina. He bashed differently able citizens of this planet when he mocked a New York Times reporter with physical challenges. And all along black Americans knew, just knew, that it was just a matter of time.
And true to form Donald Trump added a race-baiting grenade to his arsenal. When asked whether he disavowed the tacit endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke he tiptoed, spun and moonwalked all over the place before finally “disavowing” Duke. Of course he “disavowed” with a dog whistle, a Trumpian wink and an elbow nudge to all those who think that David Duke isn’t such a bad guy and that the Ku Klux Klan is no worse than Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
The reason why black Americans have been so prescient is not due to some shared race memory. It has been one of the sad themes of American racial history that when hatemongering begins in this country, black Americans will not fare well. And when it comes to Donald Trump his record regarding racial issues goes back a lot further than his recent Texas Two Step with the David Duke question.
Over twenty years ago, during the furor surrounding the Central Park Five, it was Donald Trump who called the black and brown defendants “animals” and stoked the flames that in earlier times would have resulted in a lynching. And even when the five (now not so young) men were fully exonerated and received some compensation for their suffering, it was Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump who said they should not receive a penny.
And it was only six years ago that Donald Trump assumed the mantle of leader of the “birther” movement, seeking to delegitimize the Obama presidency by casting doubts on his citizenship. It is important to remember that there was never any question or doubt that Barack Obama’s mother was a white American woman from Kansas and (according to the supporters of the Canadian-born Ted Cruz) that should have ended any questions regarding the citizenship of Barack Obama.
But Donald Trump persisted with a passion that bordered on obsession, demanding to see the Obama birth certificate. And when that Hawaiian document was presented Trump went on to seek Obama transcripts from Columbia and Harvard. This bizarre and possessed questioning of the qualifications of Barack Obama is all too familiar to any black American with any aspirations and any experience on Planet America. And black Americans know that this questioning is undoubtedly race-based.
But Trump’s shadowboxing with the Klan question is particularly troubling because it would be easy enough for him to channel his inner hypocrite and denounce an original domestic terrorist organization. His failure to do so raises the same concerns that we should have if he failed to clearly denounce Nazis or Isis.
Of course, Donald Trump is not really interested in the black vote or what black people think. He is outreach to the black community is limited to a neo-minstrelsy opening act of the “Diamond and Silk” black sister act and the few black apologists who do not know of the tragic intersection of black heritage and the Klan, or just don’t care as long as Trump is signing the checks and those checks don’t bounce (with Trump one never knows, do one?).
Again, Donald J. Trump is not really interested in the black vote. But he is very interested in those disaffected, angry white voters who hear his racist dog whistle loud and clear.
Who let the dogs out? Donald J. Trump, that’s who.