Over four years ago, on BuzzFlash, I published a column on Donald Trump entitled “Trump is the Race Card.” Yes, Trump is a blowhard, and no he doesn’t have any real programs to offer that would have a chance of solving the problems he likes to list (some real; some imagined. His new [old by Repub. standards] “immigration” policy is a bad joke [see below]). But like just about every other political commentator on our side around, I still find it irresistible to launch broadsides at him.
In a recent column for The Greanville Post, I placed Trump in the Repub. tradition of anti-immigration doctrine that began with those Know-Nothings who were part of the Republican Party from the beginning. Looking backwards, in this space I am re-visiting the 2011 column (edited down, to be sure), showing, if nothing else, that Trump’s racism is nothing new. Except that this time around, it happens to be directed at Latinos. One does not need to emphasize the point now made by a number of observers that the only thing different between Trump and the “Main-line” Repubs. is that he says out loud what has been Repub. doctrine, signaled by dog-whistles, for years. (Then we shall go to consider Dr. Ben Carson, Republican candidate, African-American, as reactionary as they come, who has not, of course, taken on Trump for his racism.) And of course now, following the Rightward Imperative of the Repubs., the so-called “mainstream” candidates, from Rubio to Walker, are even jumping on the openly racist specifics of the Trump immigration bandwagon. And so:
Not so long ago in a land not at all far away part of it was ruled by a tiny oligarchy of very wealthy large landowners. They made their wealth in part off the backs of unpaid farm laborers for whom they provided nothing more than minimal food and shelter, in part by trading in those laborers as property, and in part off the backs of another group of (much smaller) landowners/small farmers, who were generally poor, although definitely better off than the aforementioned unpaid laborers. Actually, the latter two groups had much in common. They worked hard, got nothing (in the case of the first) and precious little (in the case of the second) for their labors. They were both dominated and exploited by the oligarchy. One would have thought, in fact, that the two groups of laborers might actually join forces and struggle to improve their respective states in life.
But of course this did not happen in the slaveholding South (or the other non-Southern slaveholding states before the First Civil War either). For in the South in particular, the ruling oligarchy had, over a period of two centuries since slaves were first brought to North America in 1620, very carefully nurtured the false doctrine of white supremacy. They trumpeted this doctrine even though there had been interbreeding between European settlers and African slaves from the earliest days and the coloring became quite muddled. Given that inbreeding, the grouping "black people" in particular was a totally artificial construct and of course still is. But logic and facts never troubled the Right back then any more than they do now.
Whatever could be said about the status and living standards of the poor whites in the South, the oligarchy could and did always buy them off with the notion that whatever else was going on in their lives, they were somehow "superior" to the "blacks." Of course, the doctrine of White Supremacy and its power over the "white" people of the U.S. has never gone away. In fact, its presence and wide-spread influence on the thinking of United States folk of all kinds to this very day is a major indicator of how the South actually won the First Civil War.
Race is still the trump card for the Right. And Donald Trump used it back in 2011-12, just as he uses it now. Trump is a former Health Care Single-Payer supporter, a former pro-choicer, a former supporter of other liberal causes. But now he is apparently really running for the Repub. Presidential nomination. The racist issue he is using this time around is of course “immigration.” But racism is nothing new for Trump. In 2011-12, when he appeared to be, or at least claimed to be, running for the Repub. nomination, it was the so-called "birther issue." Yes, the State of Hawaii had produced a birth certificate and the President eventually released it. Yes there were the also the contemporaneous birth announcements in Honolulu newspapers. But the Right knows better than to confuse any of its adherents with facts. There is still an ample “birther movement” and Trump still refuses to affirm that he is convinced by the existence of a Hawaii state birth certificate. (Of course, it doesn’t matter where Obama was born. He had a U.S. citizen mother and therefore is a U.S. citizen; just ask Ted Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, of a U.S. mother.)
Trump knew full well what the facts were. But how better to distinguish himself from the rest of the undistinguished Repub. field than to openly play the race card, using the dog whistle of "birtherism" resting on the foundation of the Doctrine of White Supremacy that has been in place in this country since long before the First Civil War. The attack was/is on Obama's legitimacy as a person/President, and "we all know what that means, don't we."
And then came the Trump attack on Obama's credentials for and in higher education, which he is still playing. As Trump said: "I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard. We don't know a thing about this guy. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president." Must have been affirmative action, donchaknow. How else could he have gotten into Columbia College and Harvard Law School? And never did release his transcripts (as if they were anybody's business). He must have made President of the Harvard Law Review and Magna cum Laude by affirmative action too. And we know what THAT all means. Of course, "affirmative action" has always not meant granting admissions or jobs preferentially to discriminated-against minorities, but rather simply giving them equal opportunity to apply and be considered on their own merits. However, that fact has never stopped the racists from using "affirmative action" as a weapon in their race war. Yes indeed. Race was the trump card for the Right and for Trump himself, back then, and it still is.
Trump Postscript: On Trump’s immigration “policy.” 1. Build a wall. There are already substantial sections of a wall, built at great expense. They apparently are not too effective. 2. Ramp up deportation. Deportation already runs fairly high under the Obama Administration. Obama’s first Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napoltiano ramped up “border enforcement” in the mistaken belief that doing so would call off the Repub. dogs on the immigration issue: ho, ho, ho. 3. Pay for a wall by increasing visa fees: ho, ho, ho. Quoting from Seinfeld: “You can’t be serious.” 4. End U.S. citizenship for person born in the U.S. of undocumented aliens. Well that would require amending the U.S. Constitution, and actually echoes the fictitious“30th Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution passed by a fictitious future Republican government, as told in chapter four of my book, The 15 Percent Solution.
Trump Postscript II: The Duopoly Watch aspect of all this is that a) no one on the Democratic side will really go after Trump, and indeed the rest of the Repubs., on his/their racism, and b) the Obama Administration can hardly boast about its vastly increased anti-immigration enforcement measures, about which, apparently, only a minority of the Latino community is aware.
Trump Postscript III: For a brief review of Repub. lies about the true state of immigration policy presently, see Robert Reich’s comment at: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/31899-focus-trumped-up-myths-and-downright-lies-about-immigration. To which one could add that if any significant number of working age undocumented immigrants were deported, given the many very important jobs they hold in many US industries, the U.S. economy would suffer a severe downturn, if not collapse.
Trump Postscript IV: It now turns out that Trump employs undocumented immigrants. One has to wonder. Were e-verify to be applied to all of his enterprises, how much would he have to pay in fines, and how much would his profits drop?
And now let’s turn to the closet Dominionist (no wonder the Republican Right loves him in Iowa), the African-American neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. If the GOP is so racist, how can he be doing so well (at least for now)? Well, while racists often react to people they don’t know on the basis of the color of their skin, when such (rare) African- and Latino-U.S. persons (e.g., Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) come in on the reactionary side of politics, racists obviously do listen to what they have to say. After all, if that were not so, how come South Carolina, the Cradle of the Confederacy, has a Republican African-American Senator, Tim Scott? And then think about the meteoric rise (followed by that precipitous fall, of course) of Herman Cain in 2012.
And so, let’s to go to Dr. Carson’s website to see what he stands for: he is firmly anti-choice (apparently with no exceptions); for a “Balanced Budget” Amendment (apparently excluding the military); for “local control” of schools (something already built into public education in the U.S., but what the hey); for keeping the prison at Guantanamo Bay open (shows U.S. “strength,” donchaknow); for repealing Obamacare (of course); big on “faith” (when questioned about what that means, he comes across as a closet Dominionist, which is presumably why he is so popular with the Right-wing evangelicals currently boosting his poll numbers in Iowa); for preparing to attack Russia (even though he didn’t know that the Baltic States are part of NATO [of course, John McCain thought that Iraq bordered on Afghanistan; but no, John, there’s another country whose name begins with “I” that stands between them]); for amending the Second Amendment so that only its second clause is operative (just as Scalia did functionally in Heller); maintaining the Likud/Republican alliance; and shutting down the IRS.
And then there’s what he doesn’t talk about: how racial discrimination affects every part of life for African-Americans; mass incarceration; police violence and the militarization of the police; Republican voter suppression aimed at minorities; and so on and so forth.
He is VERY mainstream Republican (in addition to being a closet Dominionist as well, like Huckabee and Santorum). He holds to no positions that would get Republicans upset. He has no chance for the nomination. And he is a “non-politician.” So if you are a Republican and want to pretend that your party does not run on racism and has not done ever so (forgetting about, let’s say, Nixon and the “Silent Majority,” Reagan of the “welfare queen” dog whistle, G.W. Bush of the “Willie Horton” ad, down to the present time) why not Carson? At least for now. And then you can say, “see, I’m not a racist. I support the black guy.”
This column combines the bulk of two columns that have previously appeared on The Greanville Post: http://www.greanvillepost.com/2015/08/18/trump-racist-revisited/; http://www.greanvillepost.com/2015/09/01/understanding-trump-easy-carson-hard-well-no/
About the Author
TPJ Editorial Director and Contributing Author Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition, he is Senior Editor, Politics for The Greanville Post, a columnist, under “American Politics,” for The Planetary Movement, a columnist for BuzzFlash/Truthout, and a “Trusted Author” for OpEdNews. His latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel,