Does the GOP have a cutoff point for racist fearmongering?
President Donald Trump traffics in racial epithets.
Since his first year in office, Trump’s displays of xenophobic, misogynistic, LGBTQ-phobic, and racist remarks (to name just a few from his laundry list of bigotries) appear to have no cutoff point.
The Republican Party under Trump doesn’t seem to have one, either.
In a recent YouGov poll, 70 percent of Republicans said they believe diversity unfairly advantages Blacks and hurt whites, 59 percent said Blacks don’t have as much motivation as whites, and 59 percent said the judicial system treats Blacks fairly.
As I have noted before, many of Trump’s appointees have used the scripture as a text of terror, just like miscreant thugs in power throughout history, including slave owners, Nazi sympathizers, apartheid enforcers, supporters of Japanese-American internment, and loyalists opposed to the American Revolution. As recently as June, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the biblical passage Romans 13 to defend Trump’s indefensible “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul … to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of the order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
In 2017, Boston-born White House Chief of Staff John Kelly came off as a die-hard Lost Cause of the Confederacy revisionist history apologist on Fox News. His remarks reopened a divide deep in this country about slavery, as he acknowledged Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as “an honorable man,” and said “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”
If a tape of Trump using the N-word appears, a tape that former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman and others say exists, will the GOP have a cutoff point? What stance will the Republican Party take? Impeachment or apology? Or will it be too feckless to move forward?
The N-word is one of the most odious of words deriving from this country’s original sin of slavery, and it is firmly embedded in the lexicon of racist language that was and still is used to disparage African-Americans. If President Trump used the N-word, then he has breached his oath to respect and represent “all the people” as one who holds the highest office in a democratic society.
Trump has a history of racist statements and actions toward Blacks. Recently, he mocked the intelligence of LeBron James, called CNN anchor Don Lemon dumb, and said Auntie Maxine Waters has a low IQ. Trump has also attacked NFL players for taking a knee at games, created birther fearmongering, and years ago even bought full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five—a campaign he continued after their exoneration.
Trump’s embrace of white supremacy also famously showed up in his statement about Black immigrants, as well as his comments about groups like the Klan and neo-Confederates. Some are on a list of violent white extremist groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center; nevertheless, Trump wants to travel back into the Jim Crow era with them in order to “Make America Great Again.”
Through it all, national GOP politicians have by and large demonstrated an allegiance to party above country. While there has been some success in elections on the progressive side, there are also places where white nationalists are winning state, county, and municipal seats, making some Democratic incumbents squirm in states with huge numbers of Trump supporters.
Meanwhile, we have learned that Republicans have no cutoff point when it comes to their president’s comments—they’re fine with everything. Every minute that party drags its feet to respond to Trump’s slurs and claims, the GOP increasingly becomes a party that endorses racism.
Rev. Irene Monroe can be heard on the podcast and standing Boston Public Radio segment ALL REV’D UP on WGBH (89.7 FM). Monroe’s syndicated religion columns appear and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail. She is a s a Visiting Researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology.