Trump Troubles the Waters

I have watched and listened to Donald Trump as he has splashed about in the shallow end of the pool of potential 2012 presidential candidates, and one thing stands out: he is arrogant and unabashed in presenting himself as “the voice” of the “angry white man.”

He is troubling the already rough waters of American racism.

His attack on President Obama has been personal, which is not unusual for politicians, but the quality of his personal attacks has been different. He has pushed the “birther” argument, feeding into the fear and belief of way too many white Americans that President Obama was not born in the United States, and now he is challenging the president to present his academic transcripts, saying that President Obama didn’t deserve to get into Ivy League schools.

Trump said he has friends who have kids who had the grades but didn’t get into Harvard, reflecting the belief of many Americans that African Americans only got into Ivy League schools, or indeed, college period, because of Affirmative Action.

Other potential presidential candidates have skirted the arguments made by racists privately who resent President Obama’s presidency. Trump is arrogant enough to say those things out loud.

Just last week, Republican Congresswoman Marilyn Davenport from Orange County, California, circulated a picture of the Obama family in which they appeared as apes. When there was an outcry, she objected, saying it was a “joke.” She later apologized but refused to resign. She should.

Rush Limbaugh, ever the mouthpiece of and for racists, attacked President Obama’s choice of church he and his family attended on Easter. Apparently, Limbaugh thought it was racist that the family attended Shiloh Baptist Church, an African American congregation. I am sure Limbaugh’s listeners are full with the hateful vitriol that Limbaugh served them.

The president, for his part, has handled these attacks gracefully. As an African American myself, I know when I hear the euphemisms for racism, and how it roils me. Trump and others would like nothing better than to have President Obama lose his cool, show some anger, and become the proverbial “angry black man.” That would do them good, allow them to say, “See. I told you.”

Trump, on the other hand, has been churlish as criticism has come his way, resorting to calling people who challenge him names, and talking about their failures as people and as professionals. In that, he follows a disturbing tendency of too many candidates who resort to name calling when they are not getting their way.

Trump would pooh-pooh what I am saying, saying that I am playing the race card. I am, but that same card has been being played from the time the president took office, and even before. There are a lot of people who never embraced the idea that this country chose a person from America’s historic underclass to live in the White House, not as president, and they have been strategically plotting and planning to get him out from the day he took office.

The president’s policies were bound to come under attack, but these attacks are made all the more powerful because they are being fed by racism, mostly under the carpet, but in the case of Donald Trump, out loud and on Front Street. His arrogance, based on his color and his wealth, is palpable.

When President Obama was elected, idealists thought America had hit a new stride; the country was “post-racial,” they cheered. It was a nice thought, but naive. This country was built with blocks of racism; maybe the whole world was. That African Americans in this country have managed to push through some of that racism is a tribute to our strength as a people, but the fight is not over yet. The sick hatred that made this country sanction racist behavior and policies has not gone away.

Just ask Donald Trump.

Were Trump to be elected president, what would this country look like? How would “the blacks,” as he referred to African Americans, fare? I shudder to think of it. But many others smile at the thought.

That would be a candid observation.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this candid observation Dr. Smith. One thing is for sure, Trump is a racist idiot. The thing I appreciate about him is he doesn’t try to hide it. He is who he says he is. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion just like I am. But I can better appreciate those who don’t go through the trouble of hiding it. Show me who you are and I’ll deal with you accordingly.

  2. Rev Susan K Smith says:

    Thanks, Nolita, for your comment. It is painfully interesting to watch Trump. I think it’s his arrogance as he spouts his opinions which make me most uncomfortable. You’re right, though. He leaves no doubt as to where he stands and what he believes. There is no doublespeak in him.

  3. As much as we’d like to think things have changed for the better for people of color, much has remained the same, or have gotten worse actually.

    About 15 plus years ago, late at night I was working on a project at Kinko’s in Atlanta, Georgia. A assistant Pastor of a predominately white church approached me introduced himself to me, and “complimented” me for getting a jump on my next day activities by working so late. As the discussion evolved I asked him what had prompted him to drop out of corporate America to enter the ministry. He remarked, that he wanted to do all he could to reunite the races because he feared that there would be a “race war” in America very soon.

    I was shocked by his conviction and belief of this upcoming scenario, and further asked him to elaborate more. He predicted that white men in America would lead a revolt on issues concerning immigration trends of hispanics and the growing birth rate of other minority Americans outpacing white Americans.

    He went on to say that the racial bigotry would one day become so hateful in America that white folks would freak out by the realization that they had become the minority population in America. In his opinion this could lead to increased violence against minorities, and even an actual outright war in America. That was fifteen years ago way before President Obama had even run for the Senate.

    Now, I will never forget that conversation in Kinkos. I almost felt that he had been to a recent “white folk”s only meeting and had first hand knowledge of such an upcoming occurrence. What is much deeper he said that we would lose if such an event ever happened because they “white folks” manufactured all of the guns in America.

    Of special note: He had just been downsized at his comfy corporate job but stated that the company had been hiring minorities because of a class action law suite. Because of his job lost and being middle age he could not find any employment, his wife divorced him and he lost his house as well.

    I am regretfully thinking such meetings have been and are still taking place in today in White America. Look at the very heated conversations on immigration
    reform in a nation like America that has always welcomed immigrants.Additionally, I believe President Obama’s election caught many by surprise. Just some observations…

  4. cassady2euca says:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. The conversation you had with the guy in Kinko’s is interesting and troubling, but you’re right: those conversations are still going on. Trump is a spark that is igniting the fire. Stupid, arrogant man.

  5. ozzie smith says:

    Donald Trump is the emobodiment of an angry white man. I do get it as stated in the movie Head of State, “Let’s keep wht White House white.” Although the movie was comedy, Chris Rock provided laser precise critique of Trump’s or shall I say Grump’s America. It is amazing that he pushes this birther issue when his ancestors had no problem kidnapping my ancestors to bring them over here to build this country. They weren’t concerned with birther then I suppose because the “Native Americans” refused to become chattel slaves. However, even they were shuttled off to a reservation by an earlier version of Trump’s vitriol called Manifest Destiny.

    I believe that Donald Trump will go the way of Ross Perot–one thing he too cannot stand is scrutiny. He believes that he is the only one entitled to scrutinize. I applaud Obama for not dignifying this pinstripe pouting with a response. Trump, to his credit, has erased any notion of a post-racial America–it has never been and never will be. He never has been able to remain in a committed relationship other than to his combed over ego. He is a HUGE disappointment unfortunately because he can only play the racism card. Thanks for stirring the pot.

    Ozzie Smith

    • cassady2euca says:

      Thanks, Ozzie. I am so trying NOT to be angry at this man, but my efforts are not working. When he stood up today and took credit for getting the “birther” issue settled, I about lost it.

  6. Diana Erchick says:

    Your post is so right on, Dr. Smith, and well said! I agree about the anger that is so apparent, but what I cannot escape feeling with my heart and spirit is the current of hatred on which that anger rests. I just never really understand this kind of hate – or any, really. And for me, sensing that size and intensity of that hatred is debilitating. Anger would be a response from me if I weren’t so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of hate.

    • cassady2euca says:

      Thanks, Diana. The hate is so part of the American political, social and religious tradition, so much so that people inhale it and live in it without even realizing the power of its pull. It has power because people deny it exists. Trump would pounce on anyone who’d suggest he was filled with hatred and was racist, but that’s what people in denial do.
      Thanks for sharing your comment!

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