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Donald Trump, Phoenix, 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump, Phoenix, 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Trump’s predictably divisive response to the killing of George Floyd has only served to fan the flames of US anti-racist resistance

Four days after the shocking incident in Minneapolis on May 25th, the president quoted the infamous words of a racist police chief in 1967 that “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The blatant provocation prompted Twitter to flag the comment as it violated their guidelines on glorifying violence. On the same day, the gutless reality behind his blustering exterior was demonstrated when the protestors besieging the White House forced him to hole up in the Presidential bunker beneath the building!

Guns and God

When he emerged the next day, he passed over the opportunity to give a conciliatory message to the nation and ranted to a meeting of governors:

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Then, in the most bizarre move so far, Trump posed without saying anything outside a Washington church holding a Bible (upside down at one point!).

Some people may be surprised by the fact this president has failed so lamentably to play the traditional role of the office-holder as figurehead of national unity. However, anyone familiar with the consistent thread of dog-whistle comments and pandering to racism that runs through his business and political careers would expect nothing more from America’s bigot-in-chief. The rotten record of racism even stretches back to the previous generation of the Trump family:

  • 1927: Trump’s father is arrested after the KKK cause a riot in New York.
  • 1954: Folk singer Woody Guthrie writes a song about Trump Senior’s racist ideology: “Old man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial hate/He stirred up/In the bloodspot of human hearts.”
  • 1973: The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Trump Management Company for racial discrimination by not allowing   tenancies to African Americans in New York. Referring to black people, Trump told a reporter: “You know, you don’t want to live with them either.”
  • 1989: Trump paid for full-page ads in all the New York papers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino youths accused of raping a white woman. DNA evidence in 2002 exonerated all five men of the crime. Trump has refused to acknowledge their innocence.
  • 1992: Trump disparaged black employees at his Atlantic City casinos: “laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”
  • 1993: Trump tried to block Native American businessmen from running casinos on the grounds the minority group was notoriously ‘corrupt’.
  • 2005: Trump proposed an episode of his reality TV show The Apprentice featuring an all black team versus an all white one. The producers rejected the idea.
  • 2011: Trump feeds the racist ‘birther’ movement by propagating the myth that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. When Obama produced his birth certificate, Trump suggested it was fake.
  • 2015: Trumps tells Time magazine he would have supported the mass internment of Japanese Americans in WW2.
  • Launches his presidential campaign with a grotesque slur on immigrants from Mexico: “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.”
  • 2016: In the presidential election campaign, Trump insults the family of a Muslim American soldier killed on duty: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
  • Refuses to disavow the support of the KKK for his campaign on the grounds he doesn’t know enough about the organisation
  • 2017: One year into his presidency, Trump responds to the killing of Heather Heyer by a Neo-Nazi at a far right demonstration in Charlottesville by claiming there has been an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides”. Shortly after he commented that there were “very fine people on both sides”.
  • Retweets videos by fascist group Britain First claiming that the UK is being overrun by Islam.
  • 2018: referring to Africa, Trump said, “Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries? We should have more people from places like Norway.”
  • When Senator Elizabeth Warren declares her Native American heritage, Trump derides her as “Pocahontas”.
  • 2019: Tells four black Democrat congresswomen (three of whom were born in the US): “Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done”.
  • 2020: Tells a Chinese-American reporter at a press conference: “Maybe that’s a question you should ask China”. The reporter replies: “Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically?"

These are only a selection of Trump’s disgusting comments over the years. There are plenty of others. Unsurprisingly only 8% of African Americans voted for him in 2016. Now millions of Americans, of all colours, have taken to the streets to reject not just Trump’s racism but that of the entire US ruling class that has systematically deployed bigotry throughout the history of the country, from the era of slavery starting in the 1600s to the brutality of police violence that took the life of George Floyd this year.

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Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith is a Counterfire member and Lecturer in History at York College, where he is also UCU branch negotiator. Sean is also a regular contributor to Marx and Philosophy Review of Books and Culture Matters

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