Trump Makes It Impossible Not to Call Him Racist

The Republican’s insinuations against an Hispanic judge who is hearing a case against him are the final straw.

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 22, 2016
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 22, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump’s disparagement of an Hispanic judge should be the final straw for everybody who — like me — has tried hard not to outright call the man a racist.

German Lopez has all reason to wonder at Vox what more it will take for the news media, which have used phrases like “racially charged” and “racially tinged” to describe Trump’s many insinuations, to do the same.

If claiming a qualified, vetted judge shouldn’t be able to do his job because of his race and ethnicity isn’t racist, then what the hell is?

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump this week said the judge in a case against his defunct Trump University, Gonzalo Curiel, has an “absolute conflict” because of his “Mexican heritage.”

“I’m building a wall,” he said, as if that sufficed for an explanation. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest.”

Curiel is the son of Mexican immigrants.

Trump’s father was the son of a German immigrant and his mother was Scottish.


Calling someone racist is a serious accusation, one reporters in particular, who see it as their responsibility to cover the election impartially, will be reluctant to make.

But this is another example of journalists desperately trying to establish a moral equivalence between the two major party candidates when there really is none, something I described here yesterday when writing about both Hillary Clinton’s and Trump’s perceived untrustworthiness.

Lopez is right. (And it’s not only leftwingers like him. Read this from RedState‘s Leon Wolf.) If anything, we should have been frank about Trump’s racism earlier.

It’s not as though he made much of an effort to hide it.


Josh Marshall writes at his website, Talking Points Memo, that Trump’s entire campaign has been driven “by building white backlash resentment against non-whites, mainly Hispanics and principally Mexican immigrants or their descendants.”

Trump kicked off his presidential bid by alleging that Mexico deliberately sends its “rapists” and “murderers” to the United States. His signature policies are building a wall on the southern border and deporting the eleven million people who are believed to be in the country illegally — an almost impossible effort that, if carried out, “would inevitably lead to the questioning and at least temporary confinement of millions of American citizens and legal residents,” according to Marshall.

“It’s an escalating narrative,” he adds: “they’re not us, they’re dangerous, they’re taking our stuff and pulling us down.”

It’s that mix of grievance and desire to reclaim what is being taken away, that desire for revenge that has been the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign from the outset, far more than any sort of economic arguments or anything else.

Matthew Yglesias has demonstrated, also at Vox, that Trump’s support is strongest not in the most deprived areas, those with the highest unemployment or lowest growth, but rather in those where white racial resentment is profound.

“We also know that Trump rose to political prominence based on the allegation that America’s first black president wasn’t a real American at all,” he writes. Trump was the highest-profile “birther,” a group of reactionaries who refused to believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

The list, of course, goes on, from Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States to him recounting a myth about General John J. Pershing executing Muslim rebels in the Philippines with bullets doused in pig blood to his lie that New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, a Republican and an Hispanic, was resettling “large numbers” of Syrian war refugees in the state when in fact it had admitted only ten.

Trump doesn’t just lie; he doesn’t just insult, although he does both almost every day. He speaks in terms of us-versus-them; in terms that really can’t be described as anything but racist.

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