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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Syndication.

The scariest thing about Donald Trump’s presidency isn’t the steady stream of outrageous lies cascading from his White House or the cavalcade of offensive and ill-informed tweets, or even the clear nepotism and suggestions of corruption. His campaign’s possible collusion with Russia isn’t the most frightening thing. Nor is his reckless bluster toward North Korea and Iran.

The scariest thing about Trump’s presidency is that millions of voters continue to support him no matter what he does, continue to believe him no matter what lies he tells, continue to pardon his every transgression, no matter how dangerous or treasonous. (A June Associated Press-NORC poll shows that 75 percent of Republicans still approve of the job he’s doing.) If this great democracy is lost, history will show that the seeds of its demise were embedded in the troubling appeal of its 45th president.

Pundits and political scientists have already expended countless joules of intellectual energy to explain Trump’s election, with economic insecurity among the more popular answers. But several researchers who have pored over the data have concluded that anxiety over lost jobs and closed factories didn’t propel Trump into office.

An analysis of data from the American National Election Studies confirms what some of us have long suspected: Trump’s appeal lies in his implicit promise to restore white hegemony, to put black and brown people in their place, to return America to a bygone era of racial repression.

Philip Klinkner, a political scientist at Hamilton College, has studied the ANES data and concluded that “whether it’s good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants and Muslims were a key component of Trump’s appeal,” as he told reporter Medhi Hasan of The Intercept. “In 2016,” Klinkner noted, “Trump did worse than Mitt Romney among voters with low and moderate levels of racial resentment, but much better among those with high levels of resentment.”

That hardly means that every person who voted for Trump harbors racist views. In this hyper-partisan era, many rank-and-file Republicans held their noses and voted for the GOP nominee, even if that meant supporting a celebrity TV host with no clue about how to run a country.

But those garden-variety Republicans are still culpable, not just for Trump’s election, but also for the racial animosity that fueled it. For decades, the GOP has pandered to the fears and resentments of those whites who are uncomfortable with a country growing more racially diverse.

Many Americans had hoped that President Barack Obama’s election was a watershed event that signaled the transformation of American politics, that a nation once scarred by racism had overcome its past. Instead, his election sparked a furious backlash, as racially resentful whites saw more clearly the demographic changes that would bring an end to their cultural and political dominance.

Let’s remember that Trump came to the national political stage as the birther-in-chief, promoting the outrageous lie that Obama was not born in the United States. That belief was important to those who couldn’t stomach the idea of a black man in the Oval Office. They preferred to believe a made-up tale that Obama was a usurper who had stolen the presidency.

It’s no coincidence that Trump campaigned on building a wall along the southern border or that he portrayed undocumented workers as drug dealers and rapists. His strategy also relied on painting all Muslims as terrorists and promising to keep Muslim refugees out of the country.

Those pledges are still a bond between him and his supporters. Trump can repeal Obamacare and toss hundreds of thousands of his supporters off the insurance rolls; he can cozy up to Vladimir Putin and share top-secret intelligence with him; he can stand idly by as robotic arms replace human hands on assembly lines and more jobs are lost. None of that matters as long as he builds a wall and bars Muslims.

This is a frightening time — and not just because a man with the temperament of a spoiled 3-year-old holds the nuclear codes. It’s a frightening time because so many of my fellow Americans think that’s fine — as long as the guy with the codes is white.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

23 Responses to Study Shows: It’s The Racism, Stupid

  1. This article is so important and timely. Most decent people are reluctant to talk about the topic of racism and similar forms of abuses against humanity; we will latch on to the possibility that racism is dissipating, even without any hard evidence. A friend of mine who grew up in the Boston area had indicated time and again no ability to understand the reason for the busing issues in South Boston, why it was such an issue with the poorer members in the Boston area residing in South Boston, nor was she cognizant of the fury unleashed against children from the black neighborhoods who sat in fear as howling mobs of youth and adults threatened their safety on a weekly basis. Many years ago, an acquaintance and his wife sat in my kitchen discussing a variety of things, and he boldly and smugly asserted that racism was no longer an issue—this was in the late 80’s. Despite my protestation against this absurd pronouncement, he remained unphased, damaging irreparably our relationship. We remained cordial and often gathered with others, but that episode stayed in my mind. He has since moved on to the next world—I hope he had a chance to see and comprehend the enormity of his error in perception and had a chance to understand what a failure it was for him not to be able to put himself in my shoes or those of other black people who have had to endure in silence racist overtones, undertones, and laws intended to maintain a divide. Racism is a disease of the soul and the mind and which doesn’t go away with the wave of a magic wand or after the passage of a few centuries.
    And no legislation, no matter how enlightened, no judicial system, no matter how consistent in interpreting the law, and no executive branch, no matter how strenuously it enforces anti-social and counter-racist orders will ever change the hearts of people who have been brought up to be racists, either since childhood, or who later acquired the taste for racism by way of the media and the degradation of the arts and movie portrayals.

    • Aaron….I so agree with you. Having been a little white girl raised in a Compton neighborhood….I didn’t realize I wasn’t black until we moved to another city! Boy, was I ever disappointed! So, based on this and the fact that my parents did not raise me to see the color of a person’s skin, but to see what was inside their hearts, I am sickened by today’s people in this country! I’m sure, unless they are American Indians, EVERY ONE of them came from immigrant stock! Our current pseudo president and his administration has done nothing to make this country great….what they HAVE done is to bring back racism, hate, and animosity to the nth degree! This is NOT the country I grew up in and I don’ like where it’s going!

      • As you already are well aware, and given your “Baha’i” attitude as evident in your nobility, we all are members of the same Human Family. Fortunately, you’ve retained this awareness thanks to your parents.

        When I was in Salalah, Oman last year, I stayed with a family originally from Tajikistan for a week. One day, while watching a favorite cartoon show with one of the children, the son turned to me in contemplation, looking at my hair, and asked if we could trade hair. He proposed he take my Afro, and I should take his hair. The daughter, several years younger than he, jumped onto my lap the first time I ever set foot in their domicile the year before, put her face right next to mine in order to look through my glasses, and just couldn’t keep her hands out of my hair. I thought to myself, “What an interesting circumstance and request”. And hope that she and her brother will never outgrow that lack of judgement of a person based on how they look, and will protect their purity of character.

        And I’m going to do all I can to help the parents help the kids maintain their sterling qualities.

        • Awesome story, Aaron…..something to remember for a long time. Keep up the good work….the best we can ALL do is to try to make sure parents don’t instill in their children any type of racism. But, of course, it’s out there even outside of family influence!

  2. To put the matter of racism in a perspective outside politics and everyday social perceptions, it woukd be best to heed some words from the Baha’i Writings—writings intended not for bygone eras, but specific to the needs and currents of events in this Age.

    ————————————————————————————————————-

    “The theories and policies, so unsound, so pernicious, which deify the state and exalt the nation above mankind, which seek to subordinate the sister races of the world to one single race, which discriminate between the black and the white, and which tolerate the dominance of one privileged class over all others — these are the dark, the false, and crooked doctrines for which any man or people who believes in them, or acts upon them, must, sooner or later, incur the wrath and chastisement of God.” – The Promised Day is Come, p. 114.

    And elsewhere, in a open letter to the Baha’is in America in 1938, Shoghi Effendi, drawing his inspiration from both Baha’u’llah, and later from Abdu’l Baha, we have the following excerpts:

    To White Bahá’ís:
    “Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds.”

    To Black Bahá’ís:
    “Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds.”

    To Both:
    “Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith. Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country.”

    (The Advent of Divine Justice, p 40)

  3. The proof of why southern and midwestern white males seem so obnoxious and ill bred is due to their propensity to try and always being No. 1. These are not men who EVER take a back seat to anyone. Not even in dire circumstances when it’s life or death. They’d choose death before giving up their No. 1 status.

    That kind of show of superiority shows something else: gross emotional insecurity of the kind that should be considered borderline mental illness.

    The realities in the south and midwest is that they do not accept that they cannot be a superior white race. Their dirty little secret is that they agree 100% with the ideology of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. They don’t openly ever admit that. But, their demeanor and their agendas all prove it. What else explains that swagger and drawl “culture” of Mr. Man superiority?

    They still think they can rule like their great grandpappy plantation owners did…absolve themselves of all responsibility for wrongdoing while they beat hell out of innocent people who do all their dirty work for them. This they expect us to condone?

    • Not all southern white males are as you portray them. I, for one, have quite a few black friends, even though I was a junior in college before I even developed an acquaintance with a black person. And I am not a descendant of any plantation owners. In fact, my grandparents and great-grandparents were all dirt farmers who, though they owned the land they lived on and farmed, still struggled to provide decent clothing and enough food for their children. I have done extensive research into my family history, and so far I have come across one relative (not a direct ancestor) who is known to have owned a few slaves, in the early years of the 19th century.

      I was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama in both his election campaigns, and of Hillary Clinton in this last one. Yet many of the people I know thought Obama was a failure as president, and would vote for anyone who ran against him, and enthusiastically supported Trump in this last election. And I can tell from what they said (and still say) that racism is a major factor in their choices, even though they would strongly deny it if anyone told them so. But racism is not the only major factor: another is religious prejudice. If someone does not pretend to be a “Christian,” especially an evangelical, and does not claim to support the issues that the evangelical movement considers important now, that person is suspect and untrustworthy in the eyes of many of the people I know.

      • I apologize to southern men who are educated and have a strong sense of patriotism.

        The reality of President Obama is that because he was bi-racial, nothing he did was ever going to be good enough for racists and bigots.

        I have southern male relatives. I do not like their attitudes and tell them so. They believe women like me who speak their minds must be “kept in our place.” As a Yankee woman bred in a state with numerous Revolutionary War sites, there is no way I will ever be silenced.

        As for my southern female relatives, I have no idea why it is they believe life without a man in their lives is akin to being condemned to hell. Women up north are equal to men and the men up north know not to try and play their boys will be boys games.

        It isn’t just the men in the south either. The men in the midwest who hang on for dear life to being trigger happy would make them oddballs if they had to live in NY City where a hot, crowded subway in the dead of summer and them being armed would get them arrested.

        Maybe, it’s because in our Metro area 9/11 and two prior terrorist attacks neither the south or midwest have any experience with, has taught us that being armed is useless when a terrorist finds a way to attack. What we do now is keep our eyes and ears open and make sure authorities are made aware. That’s the best that can be done at this point.

        We also know that most of the domestic terrorists are from the trigger happy gun states where being armed during the Baptismal ceremony is a rite of passage.

      • Don’t they realize that Trump “pretends” to be an evangelical Christian? He doesn’t even know what the Bible says and he spends his Sunday mornings on the golf course! This is NOT a true Christian (although I don’t think many “evangelical” Christians are true Christians either…..they just think they are)!

        • That is why, when I refer to “Christians” in a post, I almost always put the name in quotation marks, because I’m almost always talking about people who claim to be Christians yet exhibit in their words and actions that they are almost the exact opposite.

    • Just to add to what I said a couple minutes ago: When I was in college, about 50 years ago, in Alabama, I became friends with a fellow student who was from upper New York State. In our discussions of racism and bigotry, he told me that there were almost as many racists and rednecks in upper New York State, where he had grown up, as he had found in Alabama.

  4. Yep, it is all the hillbillies, knuckledraggers, sick assholes who voted for this moron, and horror. That is why we need a revolution, total. This country is evil.

    • What’s truly funny is that many Trump voters don’t realize that the ACA and Obamacare are one and the same…..they think if Obamacare is repealed, they’ll still be covered under the ACA…..boy, are they going to be surprised!

  5. A Significant factor in this national disease is Cultural Conformity. I was born in 1938 in Louisiana and lived there until I graduated from college in 1960. I moved to the Washington DC area to take a civilian job with the U.S. Navy.

    My family were farmers and we had many Black field hands. I was friendly with them and liked them, but, as did almost all whites there, I considered them simple and intellectually inferior – certainly not equals. I never shook hands with a black person until my first day on the job at the Navy facility.

    There I had several Black co-workers who I came to like and respect. In 1962 I transferred from the Navy to NASA in Maryland. More exposure to other cultures: For the first time I worked with a number of Jewish people, and a significant number of really impressive Black people.

    My views began to shift. My road to Damascus event happened in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963, when I was 25 years old. By the strangest coincidence, I happened to be driving through Birmingham on the morning the church was bombed. I heard it on the radio, and the scales fell from my eyes. That’s when the realization slammed into me that I had grown up in, and accepted, a horribly flawed culture.

    Since that day I have been different. I have seen the world differently. I became a civil rights proponent. I married a Jewish girl. (We are long divorced, but still good friends.) I have lived and worked in Europe and Asia and have had many good friends from most of the European countries as well as Japan, China and Korea.

    The biggest problem we have, I believe, is that we do not open our minds and hearts to people who are different. For most of the last 40 years I have lived in a suburb of Houston. My attitudes are not typical of most of my acquaintances. My relationships with many of them became strained with the 2000 Florida “election”. With the election of Obama, many of these strained relationships completely fractured. We are surrounded by Trumpers.

    I refuse to succumb to Cultural Conformity. Therefore my wife and I are somewhat isolated. We could have a much larger group of friends, and a more active social life, if we would just go along with the hateful talk that we hear. But we refuse to trade our integrity for popularity. People need to learn to think for themselves. Group think is dangerous. We need to learn from History. Studying German history is a good start.

  6. Cynthia..how on point!…my words exactly…it all about I’m better than you, I’m white u r not!! and so it goes..SAD????

  7. you’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drum in your dear little ear, you got to be carefully taught……(from the Sound of Music).????????

  8. I have believed this contention since 2008. I have heard as much from people I have known for decades who closeted their racism until Pres. Obama ran and won the presidency. I was happy and proud of that accomplishment for this country, people I have known for a long time were angry and unbelievably resentful. When one heard, “I want my country back”, what the Hell do you think that meant?!! I have seen racism up close and personal in my long life, it is THE ugliest of human failings as it makes absolutely NO sense, and has no reason attached to it. It is pure ignorance and usually hate taught from childhood. I absolutely detest everything that has been happening since Trump came on the scene, he has been the most divisive, hateful, racist, fear mongering, depressingly ignorant, completely unfit wretch voted in by people who have hatred for others and thinking Trump has some magic “plan” to bring back jobs that will NEVER come back. It is a cruel hoax on those people who bought the snake oil salesman BS. While he ignores the rest of the world with his “American first” crap, the world will go on without our leadership. The Chinese will fill the vacuum we left and jobs and money will be made as well as Europe and Japan and am sure many others. Stupid, insane logic by Trump no long term thinking……..Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this fool who is clearly more interested in fawning over Putin and Russian oligarchs or playing golf at his many country clubs damn near every weekend and instead gave at least half ass efforts to building America, his full attention to the COUNTRY this idiot is PRESIDENT of!!!!

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