If the news pages aren’t willing to tell the truth about it, the columnists will have to. Bouie:
If Donald Trump has a theory of anything, it is a theory of American citizenship. It’s simple. If you are white, then regardless of origin, you have a legitimate claim to American citizenship and everything that comes with it. If you are not, then you don’t.
Trump never quite put this theory in writing. But it guides his behavior all the same. That’s the reason he embraced and promoted the deranged conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama’s birthplace — a black president, in Trump’s mind, must be illegitimate somehow. And it’s the reason, as president, he wants fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries and more from northern European nations like Norway. It’s less a practical alternative — there aren’t many Norwegian immigrants to the United States — than it is an expression of his racism.
Trump’s theory of citizenship helps explain some of his unusual behavior, like when he praised a largely foreign-born but nearly all-white hockey team for being “incredible patriots.” And it drove his most recent outburst, a racist attack on four Democratic congresswomen of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
It’s tempting in this situation to just condemn Trump and leave it there. But that’s a mistake. With this latest tirade, Trump hasn’t only indulged his racism, he has also usefully — if unintentionally — stripped some racial euphemism from the public discourse. His attacks on the congresswomen stem from the same source as his failed attempt to place a citizenship question on the census.
Ludicrously, the Trump administration told the Supreme Court that this information was needed to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. But the true aim, as the files of the man who devised the strategy proved, was a drive to preserve a majority-white electorate by giving state Republican lawmakers the tools and the data they need to gerrymander out noncitizens and nonwhites out of fair representation and fair apportionment. The underlying theory is the same in both cases. If you’re white, you are entitled to full political equality. If you’re not, you aren’t.
This should be a moment of truth for anyone who describes Trump as a “populist” or asserts that his support is based on “economic anxiety.” He’s not a populist, he’s a white supremacist. His support rests not on economic anxiety, but on racism.
And since we’re having this moment of clarity, there are several other points we should address.
First, this isn’t just about Trump; it’s about his whole party.
I don’t just mean the almost complete absence of condemnation of Trump’s racism on the part of prominent Republicans, although this cowardice was utterly predictable. I mean that Trump isn’t alone in deciding that this is a good time to bring raw racism out of the closet.
Last week Bill Lee, the Republican governor of Tennessee, signed a proclamation ordering a day to honor the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom he described as a “recognized military figure.” Indeed, Forrest was a talented military commander. He was also a traitor, a war criminal who massacred African-American prisoners, and a terrorist who helped found the Ku Klux Klan.
Put it this way: The Nazis had some very good generals, too. But the world would be horrified if Germany announced plans to start celebrating Erich von Manstein Day. There are, no doubt, some Germans who would like to honor Nazi heroes. But they aren’t in positions of power; their American counterparts are.
And while there were people on all sides who wanted to pretend that the Tea Party was primarily about some kind of economic anxiety, that’s not what the actual evidence indicated:
Trumpism — which is also the philosophy of the Republican Congress and most definitely the Republican majority on the Supreme Court — is the latest attack on the values of the Reconstruction amendments, which have never been fully accepted.