As an immigrant from a “s–thole” country — it doesn’t get much s–ttier than the Soviet Union, circa 1976, a country that could barely supply its citizens with toilet paper — I know I should be angry at President Trump. He couldn’t have been any more openly racist than if he had just come out and said, “I only want white people in America.”
But to be angry at him is as meaningless at being angry at a snarling, biting cur. That’s just what dogs do. It’s their nature. And racism is an integral part of our President’s nature. He is the most openly racist President of my lifetime. It’s as if George Wallace had come back from the grave and won the White House. Or maybe more to the point as if Archie Bunker — a fictional denizen of the same borough of Queens where Trump grew up — had been elected.
It’s hard to be truly angry at Trump because he hasn’t made any secret of his white supremacist views. In the years before his presidential campaign, after all, he was America’s leading “birther,” spreading the conspiracy theory that our first African-American President wasn’t born in this country. And when he did announce his run for the presidency, the very first thing he did was to denounce Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers.
Trump was unrepentant and unapologetic about his racist views long before he hired white nationalist Stephen Bannon to run his campaign, tried to ban Muslims from coming here, praised white supremacists in Charlottesville as “fine people,: pardoned racial-profiling sheriff Joe Arpaio — and before he described Haiti and African countries as “s–tholes.” No one has been alive the last two years could have any reasonable doubt about whether he is a racist.
White supremacists like David Duke and Richard Spencer have been outspoken in praising Trump for normalizing their repugnant views. Those who denied Trump’s racism were either willfully blind or, more likely, disingenuous.
Yet to his base, it didn’t matter. Some voted for him because of his racism, others despite it. Either way they were accepting the unacceptable.
And the pattern continues to the present day. The President made his comments to a roomful of Republicans, including both lawmakers and White House aides. According to Sen. Dick Durbin, the only Democrat present, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham objected. There is no evidence that any of the other Republicans did.
Two of those present, Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, tried to cover for Trump by saying they don’t recall him saying those comments specifically, the same kind of vague non-denial that Trump himself issued on Friday after being urged to do so by his Svengalis at “Fox & Friends.”
Donald Trump in the White House
But those attempts at damage control were undercut by the open glee of White House staffers who on Thursday not only refused to deny that Trump had such vile things but positively reveled in his comments. They are convinced that Trump’s words will play well with Trump’s base, just as his attacks on African-Americans NFL players did — and they are no doubt right. Which tells you all you need to know about Trump’s base.
To be sure, a few Republicans spoke out in strong terms, including Rep. Mia Love, a Haitian-American, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Cuban-American. But from the party’s leaders, there was thunderous silence.
The most House Speaker Paul Ryan, who prides himself for being the conscience of the party, would say is that Trump’s comments were “unhelpful” and “unfortunate.” That may be an appropriate response if Trump had passed wind in a meeting. It is grossly, even obscenely inadequate to address these offensive utterances that will do lasting damage to America’s standing in the world and to our own race relations at home.
And yet Ryan said more than most Republican leaders — profiles in pusillanimity — who are doing their best to dodge comment. The U.S. ambassador to Panama, a career Foreign Service officer, quit in disgust, but not a single one of Trump’s political appointees followed suit.
For the past year, Republicans have excused their silence in the face of one outrage after another on the grounds that they need to support Trump to repeal Obamacare and to cut taxes. Well, they’ve failed on the former front and succeeded on the latter, so you would think they would now feel free to speak their consciences — if they have any. But no. The shameful silence continues.
It is them I am angry at: all the Republicans who should know better but who are normalizing our racist-in-chief. No policy achievements — not tax cuts, not judges, not even victories against ISIS — are worth this. Trump is eroding the very foundations of America as complicit Republicans pretend to see and hear no evil.
Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.”
Source: Ny Daily News