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Trump’s racism and his campaign for a second term

US President Donald Trump attends a special session entitled 'Fair And Sustainable Future' as part of G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 30 November, 2018 [Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency]
US President Donald Trump attends a special session entitled 'Fair And Sustainable Future' as part of G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 30 November 2018 [Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency]

Among all the attributes ascribed to US President Donald Trump by the now former British Ambassador to Washington Kim Darroch, racism did not appear in the leaks that hit London earlier this month. Maybe this was because the ambassador’s secret messages to his bosses in Westminster had been made soon after Trump entered the White House in an attempt to try and explain the new president’s personality and his ability to make decisions.

However, the leaks and reactions to them have become intertwined with another argument over Trump’s comments about four American Congresswomen who are also women of colour. This has actually completed the image provided by the ambassador of one of America’s closest allies.

Trump should be challenged with legal action by the House of Representatives for calling on the female Democrat Party members to “return” to their countries of origin. Congressmen and women are trying to build on this case, but it is not enough to have him impeached, apparently.

Despite disapproval among Republican Party members, they have shown no willingness to go further. What the President says is what they rule by, apparently. They have even used the trope “go back to your country”, which became popular during the Second World War against Japanese-Americans.

READ: Trump’s ‘weaponization’ of Israel to defend racism raises concerns

Sections of the US media have used historical models to classify Trump alongside some of his predecessors known for their racism and opposition to giving people of colour their civil rights. The media recapitulation of speeches and terminology concluded that there are people within the president’s staff who know how he thinks and they include lines about racial heritage in his tweets. This is the President, remember, who said that there were “fine people” on both sides of the clash between white supremacists and African Americans in Charlottesville two years ago.

Trump therefore appears to be critical and opposed to the right of Representative Rashida Tlaib, US-born, of Palestinian heritage; Representative Ilhan Omar, Somali-born; Representative Ayanna Pressley, US-born African American; and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US-born, of Puerto Rican heritage, to express their views on the state of the nation. The family of Ocasio-Cortez, of course, come from an “unincorporated US territory”. She pointed out that Trump’s words carry implicit messages about white supremacy and that, while the President “did not invent racism, he certainly supports it.”

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib delivers a speech at the event that was held by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington DC, United States on 10 January, 2019 [Safvan Allahverdi/Anadolu Agency]

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib delivers a speech at the event that was held by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington DC, US on 10 January 2019 [Safvan Allahverdi/Anadolu Agency]

Trump’s positions as President remain the same as those he held as a presidential candidate, but the nature of his current position means that they have taken on a very serious dimension. Some, for example, have been turned into legislation, while others remain tools for ongoing discrimination and sowing the seeds of hatred, not least against former President Barack Obama.

The almost daily comments against his predecessor include hints that his African background makes him somehow less eligible to have been elected to high office. Trump also rails against immigration, especially of Mexicans and Muslims, many of whom are still blocked from entering the US simply because of their nationality. Now he has turned his sights on elected officials in the House of Representatives.

READ: #IStandWithIlhan trends after Trump’s racist attacks

It is unusual for a US President to speak of other countries in extremely derogatory terms, even if that is what he thinks about them in private. If he does, then it follows that any citizens of such countries are automatically tarred with the same brush.

Some commentators argue that if the US Constitution didn’t exist, Trump would have expressed his true feelings even more openly. In their view, his ways embody something of fascism and Nazism, and this is seen in his persecution of the Palestinians and total admiration for Israeli war criminals, as well as his willingness to befriend and work with dictators.

As such, Donald Trump is not just a racist against people of colour, but also someone beholden to a complex ethnic phenomenon. The most dangerous thing about all of this, though, is that this world view is at the centre of his re-election campaign.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the New Khaleej on 22 July 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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