“We are determined to take our country back,” said former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia today. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”
Later on, a motorist plowed their car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters injuring 19 and killing at 32 year old woman -- presumably in the name of "taking their country back".
To African Americans and minorities, the history of the United States is one of brutal subjugation, enslavement and persecution. White supremacy is as American as apple pie, and those who claim otherwise have never walked a day in the shoes of someone not white. Over time, the worst instincts of white supremacy have been held at bay, and 21st century America is more tolerant, more integrated and more progressive than it has ever been. But the racism lays dormant, ready to be woken upon provocation and directed at those least able to defend themselves.
Donald Trump expertly tapped into the seething white resentment that always boils beneath the surface in America, promising white Americans with thinly veiled language that he was their man and he would take power away from the minorities ruining the country. This started when Trump began openly questioning President Obama's birthplace, and he grew a movement out of it built on paranoia and a hatred of other. Mexicans were "rapists", Muslims would be banned from the country, "the blacks" all lived in inner cities, and he point blank refused to disavow the racists who endorsed his campaign. Trump won on racism -- a fact that the data conclusively shows. Americans didn't vote for Trump based on his policies, they voted on their prejudices. Reported the Nation:
The answers [to the question as to whether Trump won on racism] can be found in the comprehensive American National Election Studies pre- and post-election survey of over 4,000 respondents, which we analyzed to explore the impact of racism and economic peril on 2016 voting behavior. The results are clear, and move a long way towards settling this debate.
Our analysis shows Trump accelerated a realignment in the electorate around racism, across several different measures of racial animus—and that it helped him win. By contrast, we found little evidence to suggest individual economic distress benefited Trump. The American political system is sorting so that racial progressivism and economic progressivism are aligned in the Democratic Party and racial conservatism and economic conservatism are aligned in the Republican Party.
Now that America has a president who refuses to condemn white supremacy, has actually attempted to bar muslims from entering the country and is directing the Justice Department to go after colleges that have affirmative action policies, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and racists have been emboldened like never before. As Think Progress reported on its post-election study on the rise of hate crimes:
The number, scope, and severity of hate incidents remains staggering.
More populous states tended to have more occurrences—possibly because city dwellers are more likely to report them—but the wave of hate extended deep into the Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, and the American heartland. The incidents themselves run the gamut from disheartening to are chilling: Muslim women report being physically assaulted and told to remove their hijabs on buses and street corners. LGBTQ people allege being harassed and beaten as they walk home. Black churches were reportedly defaced with hateful racial slurs. A man of Guatemalan descent told police he was beaten as his assailants chanted “make America white again!”
The Think Progress report also noted that there has been violence towards Trump supporters, but the authors stated that, "The connection between many of these occurrences and his presidency is clear: 109 (42 percent) of the incidents we tracked over the past three months included specific references to Trump, his election, or his policies."
Trump woke up a force he cannot control, and given his desperate need to keep his base happy, Americans should expect nothing from him in response to tragedies like Charlottesville. Trump is paying lip service to "stopping the hatred, bigotry and violence", but given he is the one who stoked it in the first place, his words mean nothing. This is Trump's America, and today we saw what that really means.
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