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Why Trump’s Language Reveals His Racist Attitudes

It’s easy to caricaturize a living, breathing caricature, which is why Donald Trump impersonations are so simple to do. Just pucker your lips, exude insecurity, whine about the media, and boast that you grab women by the genitals. Oh, and don’t forget to talk about “the blacks,” “the Hispanics” and “the Muslims,” and how much they all love you. Because why shout “I’m a racist” explicitly when you can let more subtle language do the talking for you?

“I have a great relationship with the blacks,” Trump said back in 2011, a statement that wasn’t true then and is comically off-base now. “I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.”

“We’re going to have great relationships with the Hispanics,” he said after an Indiana primary win in February. “The Hispanics have been so incredible to me.”

Trump’s use of the definite article—“the”—in discussing racial and religious minorities, and other historically marginalized groups, tells us all we need to know about how he views them. It’s a rhetorical way of separating “us” from “them,” a clear means of dividing the “regular” white people from all “the others.”

“I love the Muslims,” Trump told CNN last year—which… give us an effing break already. “I think they’re great people.”

Writing at Quartz, linguist Lynne Murphy takes apart Trump’s use of “the” when speaking of black people and others, noting that it turns groups of individuals into faceless monoliths. Consider it a sort of stripping away of humanity that turns millions of people who happen to share some common traits into an “undifferentiated whole.”

“‘The’ makes the group seem like it’s a large, uniform mass, rather than a diverse group of individuals,” Murphy writes. “This is the key to ‘othering’: treating people from another group as less human than one’s own group. The Nazis did it when they talked about die Juden (‘the Jews’). Homophobes do it when they talk about ‘the gays.’”

(For example, homophobe Donald Trump, just days after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, told a crowd, “Ask the gays what they think and what they do, in, not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me: Who’s your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?”)

“There’s this distancing effect, like they’re over there,” Eric Acton, a linguist at Eastern Michigan University, told Business Insider. “They’re signaling they’re not part of it—they’re distancing themselves from it.”

“It’s drawing a circle around a certain group of people,” University of Toronto linguist Sali Tagliamonte told the outlet. “It’s a very straight-jacketing kind of expression. It’s a very delineating thing that could make members of that group think they’re being pigeonholed.”

Atlantic contributor David A. Graham notes that when Trump speaks to his base—which is almost solely white—he dispenses with “the” and talks in terms of “we.” He tells crowds, “We’re going to make America great again.” At the RNC, he opened his speech by stating, “We’re gonna win, we’re gonna win so big!” At a rally last week in Pennsylvania, he told the assembled faithful, “We’re going to beat the system, and we’re going to un-rig the system.” Graham points to this quote, which is just bursting with “we”:

“We’re going to bring back our jobs, and we’re going to save our jobs, and people are going to have great jobs again, and this country, which is very, very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful loving country, and we’re going to love each other, we’re going to cherish each other and take care of each other, and we’re going to have great economic development and we’re not going to let other countries take it away from us, because that’s what’s been happening for far too many years and we’re not going to do it anymore.”

“Part of Trump’s rhetorical power is his supercharged used of ‘we,’ a method that persuades people across the country that they are part of a larger movement, and somehow share with Trump his aura of wealth and luxury. (It’s the same technique he’s used to sell real estate for years.),” Graham writes. But when Trump refers to minorities not as “we” but “the,” it’s an indicator “that for Trump, blacks and Hispanics aren’t part of ‘we’—’they’ constitute separate groups.”

It also shows that when Trump talks about “the blacks” and “the gays” and “the Muslims,” he isn’t really talking to those groups. He’s talking to “us”—the angry, minority-mistrusting whites who make up his base.

“Also, when Trump describes any group of people, he always describes them as if their name was a category on a PornTube site,” Desus Nice, one half of the comedy duo behind the podcast Bodega Boys, told Buzzfeed.

Murphy notes that when Hillary Clinton uses the definite article, she does so in a completely dissimilar fashion. “The difference is that when Clinton talks about the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians, and the Kurds, she’s talking about governments or military groups, not everyone of that particular nationality.”

The Internet has, of course, noticed Trump’s racist phrasing, to go along with all the other racist aspects of his campaign. #TheAfricanAmericans hashtag, and related tweets, appeared on Twitter to point out how ridiculous the term sounds every time it leaves Trump’s mouth.

At some point along the way in his campaign, someone on Donald Trump’s team seems to have given him a little advice on this. But it was the wrong advice. Now, instead of dropping “the” before he discusses the abysmal lives and futures of minorities—because Trump would have us believe minorities live in hellscapes where rainy days mean bullets are falling from the sky—the candidate has switched out “African American” for “black” and “Latino” for “Hispanic,” presumably because he thinks it’s more respectful.

“They have no education, they have no jobs,” Trump said at the end of Wednesday night’s debate. “I will do more for African Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in ten lifetimes. All she has done is talk to the African Americans and to the Latinos.”

Maybe you should talk to some of the African Americans and the Latinos, Trump. They’d tell you that you’re still getting it terribly, offensively wrong.

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Photo: A person holds a sign reading ‘Latinos for Trump’ on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri


Donald Trump Mobilizes Hispanic Voters… Against Donald Trump

From the start, Donald Trump spoke and acted like a Republican presidential candidate who wanted to lose. That strategy hasn’t worked too well in the Republican primaries, but Trump’s open racism makes him a nearly-unelectable general election nominee, especially among Hispanic voters.

As it stands, Hispanics represent the largest minority populations in the United States. With over 27.3 million newly-eligible Hispanic voters set to cast ballots this year for the first time, it should come as no surprise that this group has the potential to sway the entire election, particularly in swing states.

Historically, though Hispanics comprise a very large percentage of the U.S. population, they have a relatively low voter turnout. In February, the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies (CLACLS) found that, although 28 million Latinos were eligible to vote, only 48 percent cast a ballot in 2012.

But if history is any indication, this election could mark a major turning point in that trend.

In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson, sponsored an initiative to restrict immigrants and their children from enjoying public education and health care. The proposition failed after many Latinos went to the polls to vote against it.

In 2012, Arizona politicians tried to introduce legislation to limit Latinos’ civil liberties through increased racial profiling. In the wake of the xenophobic bill’s passage, many grassroots organizations hosted voter drives. In fact, according to the grassroots organization Promise Arizona in Action, 11,975 Latinos in Arizona went to the polls to vote against the legislation, which represented a 28 percent increase compared to 2008.

In August of last year, according to a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, 70 percent of potential Republican voters believed that a wall should be built along the U.S.-Mexican border, and 92 percent of those respondents support large-scale deportation efforts.

Recently, in Indiana, an elementary school student was publicly bullied at a school basketball game. Throughout the game, students at a predominantly white school chanted “Build the wall” as they held up pro-Trump signs to distract the other, primarily-Latino team.

In Northern Virginia, a student was told that he would be “sent home” when Trump becomes president.

In Boston, Knicks player Jose Calderon was heckled by Celtics fans who chanted “Go back to Mexico” and “build a wall.”

According to the Public Religion Research Institute’s “American Values Survey,” 56 percent of respondents believed that Hispanics face “a lot of discrimination” in America. However, that average belies a partisan split: only 42 percent of Republicans believe Hispanics face a disproportionate amount of discrimination, compared to 68 percent of Democrats.

As Donald Trump has made clear, 2016 will be a landmark year for racism in our electoral process. But Trump’s brand of anti-immigrant xenophobia cuts both ways. Turnout among white voters may increase, but they’re far outnumbered.

In fact, Mr. Trump’s comments have inspired political donors like George Soros to launch the “Immigrant Voters Win” PAC, a $15 million initiative to mobilize Latinos in swing states to register to vote. Univision has launched their own voter registration initiative as well, with a goal of registering 3 million new Latino voters.

Florida offers a valuable case study in how this could all play out for Donald Trump, should he be his party’s nominee. According to the Pew Research Center,

Among all Floridians, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in 2016. This is due in part to Hispanics, who accounted for 88% of growth in the number of registered Democrats between 2006 and 2016. During this time, the number of Hispanic registered voters increased by 61%, while the number of Hispanics identifying as Democrats increased by 83% and those having no party affiliation increased by 95%. The number of Hispanic Republican registered voters has grown too – but much more slowly (just 16%).  

In 2014, a study from the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 62 percent of Latinos nationwide support Democratic candidates. According to the CLACLS, the relative surge of Latino voters can help decide election winners in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

So, sure, Donald Trump won Florida. He also won Nevada — “even among Latinos!”

That is, among Latino Republican primary voters.

In Florida, according to Fortune, relatively few Latino Republicans came to vote and only 7 percent of the Latinos who did vote favored Trump.

The Nevada caucuses showed similarly unimpressive results: the Washington Post reported afterwards that, for all of Trump’s talk, he only won 2 percent of eligible Latino voters, “because there aren’t many Latino Republicans and because turnout in Nevada’s caucuses is very small.”

Surprise: Donald Trump knows how to twist statistics to say whatever he wants them to say. But that doesn’t change reality — 80 percent of Hispanics have a negative view of Donald Trump. And yes, their voices will be heard in November.

Photo: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump brings up a Latino member of the audience as he speaks during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

Obama Team Eyes Arizona, Georgia; Sees Indiana as Out of Reach

The 2012 presidential race will see Barack Obama competing vigorously in some of the states he turned blue in 2008 with burgeoning Hispanic populations, like Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina, as well as others that were out of reach but are seeing even larger growth in the Latino community, like Arizona and Georgia.

On the flip side, Indiana, and perhaps Ohio, struggling in the still-lagging economy, may be tough holds. While his victory would appear likely to be narrower than the 365-electoral-vote rout of 2008, his poll numbers are relatively strong considering the unemployment rate; Ronald Reagan’s approval rating dipped as far as the mid 30s, a good bit below Mr. Obama’s low-point, before he soared to a rout of Walter Mondale in 1984 on the back of an improving, if still sluggish, economy. [Washington Post]