Hey, Donald Trump supporters, the president thinks you’re a bunch of racists.
Why else did he decline to call out the white supremacists — the creeps with the torches who chanted “Jews will not replace us” — who were most responsible for the violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Va.?
How hard is it to condemn the hate of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and white nationalist Richard Spencer?
What’s so tough about calling a bigot a bigot?
All we can figure is that President Trump has an extremely low opinion of his own political base, that one man’s neo-Nazis are another man’s fanboys. We can only assume, Trump supporters, that the president is loathe to call out the haters among you because he thinks an awful lot of you are haters. And he wants to see you at his next rally.
Tell us, Trump fans, has the president got you right?
If not, how much longer will you defend this guy?
For our part, we have never bought the argument, common in liberal circles, that the Trump political phenomenon is almost completely driven by racism, bigotry and misogyny. We refused back in November to think so little about almost half of our fellow Americans, who voted for him. We refuse to think that way about the third of Americans who, according to polls, still approve of him.
Trump got the bigot vote, no doubt about it, and he gets it still. But something else was going on. It’s not a stretch for people — kind and decent people — to see the closed-down steel mills of South Chicago and the city’s high murder rate and think, “America’s not great anymore.” Whatever else one might say about Trump supporters, many of them just feel lost.
But the president doesn’t hold nearly as charitable a view of his own voters, or he wouldn’t be so reluctant to denounce the haters among them. To attack the bigots, he seems to believe, is to attack his base.
Consider the white racist rally in Charlottesville, where one person was killed and 19 others were injured when a car sped through a group of counter-protesters. Here’s what Trump had to say about that:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.”
On many sides?
No, Mr. President, the hatred and bigotry came from one side — the white nationalists who waved your photo. And while violence by anybody was, in fact, deplorable, it was the haters who showed up looking to provoke. That was their game.
Trump, as always, failed to rise to the occasion. He could have stood up against intolerance and hatred. He could have been “presidential.”
Like Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas, Trump could have called the white supremacists “repulsive and evil” and accused them of “domestic terrorism.” He did not.
Like Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, he could have said: “Go home….Shame on you.” He did not.
Like Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, he could have said: “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.” He did not.
Whom was he afraid of offending?
Trump won the presidential election by turning Americans against each other, calling unauthorized immigrants rapists and killers, promoting the notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, vowing to keep Muslims from entering the country. He played on racism, fear and bigotry. He did his best to bring out the worst in us.
Tell us, Trump fans, did he have your number?
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