Racial views of Donald Trump

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Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, has a history of making remarks that are considered politically incorrect by mainstream media pundits and members of academia, and of taking actions that challenge existing racial victimhood hierarchies, and are hence perceived as racist or racially-motivated.[1][2][3][4] In 1973, he was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination against black renters, in what may have been an illegal attempt to limit crime and perceived threat levels at his properties.[5][6][7] He was accused of racism for holding firm to the belief that a group of mostly black, and some Latino, young men were guilty of raping a white woman in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, even when in 2002 Matias Reyes, a serial rapist in prison, claimed he had raped the jogger alone, and DNA evidence confirmed his participation in the attack.[8][9][10] In 2011, he became a leading proponent of the theory that Barack Obama might not have been born in the USA, and that this fact had been covered up early in his lifetime. Trump continued to question the limited information that was available about Obama's birth and early years for the next five years.[11][12] Left-wing and more centrist criticism of Trump then increased vastly as his political career took off in 2015.

Introduction

Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he said that Mexican immigrants included criminals and rapists, outraging proponents of free immigration into the USA.[13][14] Later, his comments about a Mexican-American judge were criticized as racist. He tweeted disputed and allegedly out-of-context statistics claiming that black Americans are responsible for a majority of murders of whites, and in speeches he continually linked blacks with violent crime.[15] During his presidency, comments he made following a Charlottesville, Virginia rally were seen by left-wing activists as implying a moral equivalence between what they considered to be an unacceptable white nationalist protest march, and the violence used by those who counter-protested the marchers. In 2018, comments he made during an Oval Office meeting about immigration in which he referred to African countries, El Salvador and Haiti as "shithole countries" were condemned by these and other Third World countries, and by liberals, as racist.[16][17][18] Trump has denied multiple times that he is racist; he has said that he is the "least racist person there is."[19]

Trump's racially insensitive statements[20] have been condemned by left-wing observers in the U.S. and around the world,[21][22] but accepted by his supporters either as a rejection of political correctness[23][24] or because they harbor increasing awareness of the changing racial balance in the USA, and of the mainstream culture's suppression of white identity.[25][26] Numerous studies and surveys have shown that since Trump's ascendance in the Republican Party, awareness of racial identity and of racial victimhood status, and the rights that may be granted by this hierarchy, have become more significant than economic factors in determining voters' party allegiance.[26][27] According to a October 2017 POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a plurality of 45% of voters think Trump is racist.[28]

History

Housing and hotel discrimination cases

In 1973 Donald Trump, his father Fred, and Trump Management company were sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination against lower-income prospective black tenants.[5] The impetus for the suit was Trump's refusal to rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, who were perceived to be higher-risk tenants, thereby violating the Fair Housing Act. A settlement was reached in 1975 with no admission of wrongdoing.[29] The Trump Organization was sued again in 1978 for violating terms of the 1975 settlement; Trump denied the charges.[30][31][32]

The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was fined $200,000 in 1991 by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for removing black and female employees from craps tables in order to accommodate high roller Robert LiButti, a mob figure and alleged John Gotti associate, who was said to fly into fits of racist rage when he was on losing streaks.[33] There is no indication that Trump was questioned in that investigation, he was not held personally liable, and he denies even knowing what LiButti looked like.[33] In 1992 Trump Plaza lost its appeal of the decision.[34]

Central Park jogger case

On the night of April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili was assaulted, raped, and sodomized in Manhattan's Central Park by a large group of minority youths. On the night of the attack, five juvenile men—four African Americans and one of Hispanic descent—were apprehended in connection with a number of attacks in Central Park committed by around 30 minority perpetrators. The defendants were tried variously for assault, robbery, riot, rape, sexual abuse, and attempted murder relating to Meili's attack and the other attacks in the park. Based solely on confessions that were later claimed to be coerced and false, and despite the fact that DNA tests on the rape kit excluded them as contributors of genetic material, they were convicted in 1990 by juries in two separate trials. Known as the Central Park Five, they received sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years. The attacks were highly publicized in the media.[35]

The full-page advertisement taken out by Trump in the May 1, 1989 issue of the Daily News

On May 1, 1989, Trump called for the return of the death penalty by taking out a full-page advertisement in all four of the city's major newspapers. He said he wanted the "criminals of every age" who were accused of beating and raping a jogger in Central Park "to be afraid".[36] Trump told Larry King on CNN: "The problem with our society is the victim has absolutely no rights and the criminal has unbelievable rights" and that "maybe hate is what we need if we're gonna get something done."[37]

In 2002, Matias Reyes, a Puerto Rican serial rapist and murderer described as a "psychopath", said he had raped the jogger, which was confirmed by the presence of DNA evidence.[38] The convictions of the five men for this crime were vacated. They sued New York City in 2003 for "malicious prosecution", racial discrimination, and emotional distress. Lawyers for the five defendants said that Trump's advertisement had inflamed public opinion.[36] Protests were held outside Trump Tower in October 2002. Trump was unapologetic, saying, "I don't mind if they picket. I like pickets."[36] The city settled the case by paying the men and their attorneys $41 million in 2014. In June of that year, Trump called the settlement "a disgrace" and said that the group's guilt was still likely: "Settling doesn't mean innocence. […] These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels."[39][40]

In October 2016, when Trump campaigned to be president, he said that Central Park Five were guilty and that their convictions should never have been vacated,[41] attracting criticism from the Central Park Five themselves[42] and others. Senator John McCain immediately retracted his endorsement of Trump, citing "outrageous statements" about what he called the innocent men in the Central Park Five case.[43] Yusuf Salaam, one of the five defendants, claimed that he had falsely confessed out of coercion, because he was mistreated by police while in custody.[44] Filmmaker Ken Burns, who directed the documentary The Central Park Five, called Trump's comments "the height of vulgarity" and racist.[8]

"Black guys counting my money"

In his 1991 book Trumped! John O'Donnell quoted Trump as saying:

"Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes… Those are the only kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else…Besides that, I tell you something else. I think that's guy's lazy. And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks."

At the time, Trump did not contest the veracity of the quote, and in an interview in 1997 admitted that the information in the book was "probably true". Two years later, when seeking the nomination of the Reform Party for president, he denied making the statement.[45]

Birtherism

Trump played a leading role in various birther claims and investigations that had begun after the start of President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.[46][47] Beginning in March 2011, Trump publicly questioned Obama's citizenship and eligibility to serve as president.[48][49][50] After Obama released a document that was said to be his "long-form" birth certificate in 2011, Trump claimed the certificate appeared to be a fraud in 2012, and later in 2013 and 2015 he said he did not know where Obama was born. The document was released during the secret build-up leading to the military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, and may have provided a useful distraction.[51] Even if the document was fake, no proof was produced to that effect, and it was considered legally valid. In September 2016 Trump acknowledged that Obama was born in the United States; at the same time claiming it was Hillary Clinton who originally raised questions about Obama's place of birth.[52]

Hispanic judge

In 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil suit against Trump University alleging that the company had made false statements and defrauded consumers.[53][54] Two class-action civil lawsuits were also filed naming Trump personally as well as his companies.[55] During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who oversaw those two cases, alleging bias in his rulings because of his Mexican heritage.[56][57] Trump said that Curiel would have "an absolute conflict" due to his Mexican heritage which led to accusations of racism.[58] Speaker of the House and a Trump supporter, Republican Paul Ryan commented, "I disavow these comments. Claiming a person can't do the job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable."[59]

Somali refugees

In August 2016 Trump campaigned in Maine, which has a large immigrant Somali population. At a rally he said, “We’ve just seen many, many crimes getting worse all the time, and as Maine knows — a major destination for Somali refugees — right, am I right?" Implying terrorism, Trump said, "Well, they’re all talking about it, Maine. Somali refugees. [...] You see it, and you can be smart, and you can be cunning and tough, or you can be very, very dumb and not want to see what’s going on, folks.”[60]

In Lewiston, home to a rapidly growing population of Maine Somalis, the police chief claimed that the Somalis already present had already integrated into the city, and there had not been an increase in total crime. Crime was claimed to actually be going down, not up. The mayor later added that Lewiston was safe and they all got along, though both officials were accused of political correctness, and there were alleged to be deep tensions. At a Somali support rally following Trump's comments, Portland's politically progressive mayor welcomed the Somali immigration, saying, “We need you here." Maine's liberal Republican Senator Susan Collins criticized immigration opponents, adding that “Mr. Trump’s statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful. Maine has benefited from people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and, increasingly, Africa — including our friends from Somalia.”[60] She was derided as a cuckservative for these comments, or an actual socialist who had few Republican beliefs at all.

Inauguration address

In his inauguration address on January 20, 2017, Trump was criticized for his "unusually dark" language.[61] Nevertheless, Trump also called for unity in the address saying: "when you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice" and "whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots."[61][62][63][64]

Immigration policy

On Friday, January 27, 2017, via executive order, President Trump ordered the U.S border indefinitely closed to Syrian refugee families fleeing the bloody Syrian war. He also abruptly ceased immigration from six other Muslim nations - the order was for 90 days. A religious test was also implemented for Muslim refugees, which gave immigration priority to Christians over Muslims, outraging both left-wing and Islamic activists. Besides Syria, admission into the U.S. was halted for refugees from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Liberal commentators, assisted by right-of-center mainstream conservatives, described these actions as government approved religious persecution.[65][66]

The New York Times reported that in a June 2017 Oval Office meeting, President Trump reacted angrily to the number of immigrants who were allowed visas to enter the United States since January, and that he questioned the benefit of these visits to the USA. President Trump reportedly said 2,500 visa holders from Afghanistan were from a terrorist sanctuary. According to two anonymous officials at the meeting, Trump stated that 15,000 from Haiti were likely to bring AIDS to the USA, and forty thousand from Nigeria would decide to never "go back to their huts" after experiencing the superior quality of life in the USA. Senior staff members reportedly claimed at the meeting that most of these were one time visitors, but that this did not quell Trump's indignation. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied that Trump had made such remarks stating that "General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims".[67][68]

Black Caucus

In a February 2017 presidential press conference, White House press correspondent April Ryan asked Trump if he would involve the Congressional Black Caucus when making plans for executive orders affecting inner city areas. Trump replied, "“Well, I would. I tell you what. Do you want to set up the meeting?" When Ryan said she was just a reporter, Trump pursued, "Are they friends of yours?” The New York Times complained that Trump was "apparently oblivious to the racial undertones of posing such a query to a black journalist." Journalist Jonathan Capehart commented, “Does he think that all black people know each other and she’s going to go run off and set up a meeting for him?”[69]

In March 2017, six members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Trump to discuss the caucus's reply to Trump's campaign-rally question to African Americans, "What do you have to lose?" (by voting for him). The question was part of Trump's campaign rhetoric, that blacks complained was responsible for presenting African Americans in terms of helpless poverty and inner-city violence.[70][71] According to two people who attended the March meeting, Trump asked caucus members if they personally knew new cabinet member Ben Carson and appeared surprised when no one said they knew him. Also, when a caucus member told Trump that cuts to welfare programs would hurt her constituents, "not all of whom are black," [72] the president replied, "Really? Then what are they?", although most welfare recipients are white.[72] The caucus chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond, later said the meeting was productive and that the goals of the caucus and the administration were more similar than different: "The route to get there is where you may see differences. Part of that is just education and life experiences."[70]

Pardon of Joe Arpaio

The U.S. Department of Justice accused Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio of using illegal law enforcement methods to reduce crime in his jurisdiction, in what they complained was the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history.[73] The illegal tactics that he was using included unabashed racial profiling of suspects, not to mention "sadistic punishments that involved the torture, humiliation, and degradation of Latino inmates."[74] The DoJ filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. He ignored their orders and was subsequently convicted of contempt of court for continuing to racially profile Hispanics. Calling him "a great American patriot", President Trump pardoned him soon afterwards, even before sentencing took place.[75][76][77] House Speaker Paul Ryan, and both Arizona Senators, John McCain and notable Trump opponent Jeff Flake, immediately criticized Trump's decision.[78][79][80] Generally left-wing and progressive Constitutional scholars strongly opposed the decision to grant the pardon, which liberal Harvard law professor Noah Feldman strongly condemned as "an assault on the federal judiciary, the constitution and the rule of law itself". The American Civil Liberties Union, which had strongly supported the case resulting in Arpaio's conviction, tweeted: "By pardoning Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump has sent another disturbing signal to an emboldened white nationalist movement that this White House supports racism and bigotry." ACLU deputy legal director Cecilia Wang made clear that to the ACLU, the pardon was "a presidential endorsement of racism".[81]

Charlottesville rally

The Unite the Right rally (also known as the Charlottesville rally) was a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, from August 11–12, 2017.[82][83] The rally had been inspired by the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, which rally members saw as part of a pattern of suppression of white identity.[84][85] Protesters included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and various militias. Some of the marchers were accused of chanting racist and antisemitic slogans, carried semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Muslim and antisemitic banners, and "Trump/Pence" signs.[85][86][87] A woman died of a heart attack and 35 other people were injured, some seriously, when a "self-professed" neo-Nazi who claimed to be fleeing Antifa protester drove his car into another group of Antifa protesters, in what he claims was an accident. He then drove away from the scene, almost certainly a felony.[88]

In his initial statement on the rally, Trump did not denounce white nationalists but instead condemned "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides." His statement and his subsequent defenses of it, in which he also referred to "very fine people on both sides," were viewed by outraged left-wing commentators (and some mainstream conservatives) as a claim of moral equivalence between the white marchers and those who protested against them, and were interpreted by many as a sign that he was sympathetic to white racial or cultural identity politics.[86] Outrage over these suspected sentiments spread across progressive online forums like Reddit.

Shortly after the Unite the Right rally, Trump read prepared remarks at an American Legion conference, and called for the country to unite saying that “we are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck or the party of our politics.” Rather, he said, “we are defined by our shared humanity, our citizenship in this magnificent nation and by the love that fills our hearts.”[89]

Elizabeth Warren

Trump has frequently referred to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas", including at a White House event honoring Native Americans.[90] Warren responded in one instance with "It was deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur."[91] Speaking on the PBS Newshour, Mark Shields commented, "When Donald Trump uses Pocahontas to attack or taunt one senator, Elizabeth Warren. This, quite frankly, is beyond that. I mean, this is racial. It's racist. It is."[92]

"Pretty Korean lady"

In an intelligence briefing on hostages held by a terrorist group in Pakistan, Trump repeatedly interrupted the briefing to ask an Asian-American intelligence analyst who specializes in hostage situations "where are you from?". After she told him she was from New York he asked again and she clarified that she was from Manhattan. He pressed with the question until she finally told him that her parents were Korean. Trump then asked one of his advisers why "the pretty Korean lady" was not negotiating for him with North Korea.[93][94][95] NBC News characterized this exchange as Trump having "seemed to suggest her ethnicity should determine her career path".[96] Vox suggested that when Trump refused to accept New York as an answer he is "saying that children of Asian immigrants can never truly be “from” America. This isn’t just simple bigotry; it feels like a rejection of the classic American “melting pot” ideal altogether."[97]

"Shithole countries"

In January 2018, Trump received widespread political condemnation for comments he made during a January 11 Oval Office meeting about immigration in which he allegedly referred to African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti as "shithole countries". Saying, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?", he suggested that instead the US increase immigration from Norway.[98][16][17] The event is termed by some media outlets "Shitholegate".[99]

In a statement issued on January 11, the White House did not deny that the president made the remarks, but on the following day Trump did tweet out a partial denial, saying that he "never said anything derogatory about Haitians", and denied using "shithole" specifically to refer to those countries but did admit to using "tough language".[100][98]

Senate minority whip Dick Durbin, the only Democrat present at the Oval Office meeting, claimed that Trump did use racist language and referred to African countries as shitholes and that "he said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly".[101]

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified under oath to the Senate regarding the incident. She said she did not "specifically remember a categorization of countries from Africa." Asked about the President's language, Neilsen said, "I don't remember specific words", while remembering "the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone" but not Dick Durbin. Later on during the questioning, Nielsen said, "I remember specific cuss words being used by a variety of members", without elaborating on what was said and by whom.[102]

Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, also present at the meeting, initially issued a joint statement stating that they "do not recall the President saying those comments specifically".[103] Later, both senators denied that Trump had said "shithole". Purdue said Trump "did not use that word ... The gross misrepresentation was that language was used in there that was not used",[104] and Cotton said, "I didn't hear it, and I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin". Cotton elaborated that he "did not hear derogatory comments about individuals or persons", and went on to affirm with the interviewer that the "sentiment [attributed to Trump] is totally phony".[105] Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Cotton and Purdue told the White House they heard "shithouse" rather than "shithole".[106]

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) stated that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), present at the meeting, had confirmed that Trump indeed called El Salvador, Haiti and "some African nations" "shithole countries".[107] Graham refused to confirm or deny hearing Trump's words, but rather released a statement in which he said, "[I] said my piece directly to [Trump]."[108] In what was interpreted as a response to Cotton and Purdue, Graham later said, "My memory hasn't evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said", while also asserting "It's not where you come from that matters, it's what you're willing to do once you get here."[109] Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said that the meeting participants had told him about Trump making those remarks before the account went public.[110]

Radio host and right-of-center Trump opponent Erick Erickson said Trump had privately bragged to friends about making the remarks, thinking "it would play well with the base."[111] The Washington Post quoted Trump's aides as saying Trump had called friends to ask how his political supporters would react the coverage of the incident, and that he was 'not particularly upset' by the publication of the incident.[106]

Response from lawmakers

Republicans

There has been "muted" response to these comments from Republican lawmakers.[11] Some of these lawmakers denounced the comments, calling them "unfortunate" and "indefensible", while others sidestepped or did not respond to them.[112] Some of the president's defenders, such as Vice President Mike Pence, have remained silent on the issue. Senator Orrin Hatch said he was waiting for a "more detailed explanation regarding the president's comments".[113] House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "So, first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful." Senator and noted Trump opponent Susan Collins, who has worked to ease immigration into the USA and wants to grant US citizenship to many but not all illegal immigrants, said "These comments are highly inappropriate and out of bounds and could hurt efforts for a bipartisan immigration agreement. The president should not denigrate other countries." Tim Scott, senator from South Carolina, and the only Republican African-American in the Senate, called the comments "disappointing".[114] Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma used the word "disappointing" to describe the comments.[114] Haitian-American Representative Mia Love of Utah, tweeted that the comments were "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values," and later said they were "really difficult to hear, especially because my [Haitian immigrant] parents were such big supporters of the president.... there are countries that struggle out there but ... their people are good people and they're part of us."[115][116] Senator and noted Trump critic Jeff Flake wrote "The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance were not 'tough,' they were abhorrent and repulsive". Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Erik Paulsen also denounced the comments.[113]

Democrats

The alleged comments caused mass outrage on the political left. When asked if he believed Senator Durbin's reporting of the incident, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer replied, "I have no doubts. First, Donald Trump has lied so many times, it’s hard to believe him on anything, let alone this. I’ve known Dick Durbin for 35 years, [...] he is one of the most honorable people I’ve met." [117] Both House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and civil rights leader Representative John Lewis claimed Trump’s remarks confirm his racism.[118][119][120] Representative Jim McGovern, said, "America's president is a racist and this is the proof. His hateful rhetoric has no place in the White House."[114] Representative Tim Walz said, "This is racism, plain and simple, and we need to call it that. My Republican colleagues need to call it that too." Senator Richard Blumenthal said that Trump's comments "smack of blatant racism – odious and insidious racism masquerading poorly as immigration policy."[121] Representative Karen Bass of California said "You (Donald Trump) would never call a predominantly white country a 'shithole' because you are unable to see people of color, American or otherwise, as equals".[114] Representative Bill Pascrell wrote on Twitter that "[Donald Trump is] showing his bigoted tendencies in ways that would make Archie Bunker blush" and called Trump a "national disgrace".[114]

International response

A great deal of both national and international response was generated in January 2018 following the allegations that Trump had forcefully objected to continuing immigration from Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a news briefing, "There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes', whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome."[122]

The African Union issued a statement strongly condemning the remarks and demanding a retraction and apology; an AU spokeswoman said, "Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, [Trump's statement] flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice. This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity."[123]

The Ministry of International Affairs of Botswana summoned the US ambassador, and said in a statement "We view the utterances by the current American President as highly irresponsible, reprehensible, and racist."[123] The African National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa, tweeted "its offensive for President Trump to make derogatory statements about countries that do not share policy positions with the US. Developing countries experience difficulties. The US also faces difficulties".[124] Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa's opposition party, said "The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent".[113]

Haiti’s ambassador to the US said Haiti “vehemently condemn[ed]” Trump’s comments, saying they were “based on stereotypes.” Haiti’s former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said, "It shows a lack of respect and ignorance never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President."[123]

Impact

It has been reported that the political rise of Donald Trump has inflamed racial, ethnic and religious tensions across the United States.[125] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claimed there were 867 "hate incidents" in the 10 days after the US election, a phenomenon it tended to blame on Trump's rhetoric. They consider the actual number of incidents to be much higher because most hate crimes go unreported. SPLC president Richard Cohen blamed the surge on the previously taboo political and social concepts that Trump had mentioned and sometimes discussed during his campaign. In a statement he said:

“Mr Trump claims he’s surprised his election has unleashed a barrage of hate across the country. But he shouldn’t be. It’s the predictable result of the campaign he waged. Rather than feign surprise, Mr Trump should take responsibility for what’s occurring, forcefully reject hate and bigotry, reach out to the communities he’s injured, and follow his words with actions to heal the wounds his words have opened.”[126]

In 2016, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch claimed FBI statistics for 2015 showed a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans, though many of these later turned out to have been faked; claimed hate crimes against Jewish people, African Americans and LGBT individuals increased as well. Lynch reported a 6% overall increase, though she said the number could be higher because many incidents go unreported. In New York City the number of hate crimes increased 31.5% in the year from 2015 to 2016. Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Trump's politics, stating, "A lot of us are very concerned that a lot of divisive speech was used during the campaign by the President-elect, and we do not yet know what the impact of that will be on our country."[127]

Student rejection of political correctness

Following Donald Trump's election, various alliances of generally liberal and sometimes left-wing teachers, administrators, and students claimed there was an uptick in incidents that "go beyond the bullying and cursing seen in the past" to a new set of offenses "committed in the name of upending so-called PC culture." They have taken to calling the phenomenon "The Trump Effect." Trump biographer and critic Michael D'Antonio (The Truth About Trump) claimed, "I think that he's sort of playing to the kids in the classroom who hate the teacher, too, and really love it when someone disrupts things."[128] According to liberal sociologist Linda Tropp, a professor at UMass Amherst, as well as many other progressive school sociologists, teens are "particularly susceptible to the mimicry that dictates school norms." Progressive activist Maureen Costello, a former teacher who leads the Teaching Tolerance program at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said, "Trump presents as a bully, and so he's mimicked as a bully." Southern Poverty president Richard Cohen joked, “We’ve seen Donald Trump behave like a 12 year old, and now we’re seeing 12 year olds behave like Donald Trump."[129][128]

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s "Teaching Tolerance" project organized an online survey to mostly unionized K–12 teachers and public school administrators across the country with over 10,000 respondents. The survey data showed that the results of the election were having a "profoundly negative" impact on schools and students, defined as going directly against the tenets of progressive politics. Ninety percent of teachers and education bureaucrats reported that school climate had been "negatively affected", and most of them believed it will have a long-lasting impact. It was reported that there has been an increase in "verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags." Nearly a third of the incidents were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-black incidents were the second-most common, with frequent references to lynching. Antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks were said to be common as well, though this data was hard to extract and summarize due to the large number of false reports. SPLC believes "the dynamics and incidents these educators reported are nothing short of a crisis and should be treated as such."[130][129][131]

Defenses of Donald Trump

Trump has repeatedly denied claims that he is racist since at least as early as 2015, often stating that he is "the least racist person".[132][133] During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Trump defended himself and his campaign from Hillary Clinton's accusations of racism, arguing that his immigration policies were not racist.[134]

Trump, responding to reporters' questions about racism said, "I am not a racist. I'm the least racist person you will ever interview".[135] Trump's son, Eric Trump, defended his father against allegations of racism, remarking that his father is concerned with the economy, citing improved economic conditions for African Americans. Eric Trump called his father "the least racist person" he has ever met.[136][137]

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump from accusations of racism, by referring to his time as host of The Apprentice and saying, "Frankly, if the critics of the president were who he said he was, why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV?"[138][139]

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has stated that Trump's marriage to Slovenian model Melania Trump proves he is not “anti-immigrant”.[140]

Following reports that Trump had reportedly called African countries "shitholes", speaking at the opening of the East African Legislative Assembly President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda,said, "I love Trump because he tells Africans frankly. The Africans need to solve their problems, the Africans are weak."[141]

Analysis

Objections by progressive pundits

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta said the Washington Post report combined with statements made in 2016 and 2017 shows "the president seems to harbor racist feelings about people of color from other parts of the world."[142][143]

Following the incident in which Trump referred to several nations as "shithole countries," David Brooks, speaking on the PBS Newshour, called the president's statements "clearly racist" and said, "It fits into a pattern that we have seen since the beginning of his career, maybe through his father's career, frankly. There's been a consistency, pattern of harsh judgment against black and brown people."[144]

Trump has been called a racist by a number of New York Times columnists including Nicholas Kristoff ("I don’t see what else we can call him but a racist"),[145] Charles M. Blow ("Trump Is a Racist. Period."),[146] and David Leonhardt ("Donald Trump is a racist").[147] Additionally, John Cassidy of the New Yorker concluded that "we have a racist in the Oval Office."[148]

Right-of-center pundit and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, when asked in an interview if he thought Trump was a racist replied, "Yeah, I do. At this point the evidence is incontrovertible."[149] Speaking on MSNBC, Steele said, “There are a whole lot of folks like Donald Trump. White folks in this country who have a problem with the browning of America. When they talk about [wanting] their country back, they are talking about a country that was very safely white, less brown and less committed to that browning process.”[150]

Australian political commentator John Hewson believed the recent global movements against traditional politics and politicians are unacceptable, and are based on racism and prejudice. He comments: "There should be little doubt about US President Donald Trump's views on race, despite his occasional 'denials', assertions of 'fake news', and/or his semantic distinctions. His election campaign theme was effectively a promise to 'Make America Great Again; America First and Only' and – nod, nod, wink, wink – to Make America White Again."[151]

Objections by left-wing and liberal academics

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said "What Trump is doing has popped up periodically, but in modern times, no president has been so racially insensitive and shown outright disdain for people who aren't white."[19]

George Yancy, a professor at Emory University known for his activism supporting minority rights, concluded that Trump is racist, describing his outlook as "a case of unabashed white supremacist ideas."[1]

Speaking shortly after Trump's election, John Mcwhorter discussed the fact that 8% of black voters and around 25% of Latinos voted for Donald Trump, saying "many would see it as 'conservative' for a person of color to vote for a racist, as if it were still a time when racism was socially acceptable." In his view, people of color who voted for Trump were willing to look beyond Trump's racism to the promise of economic improvement.[152]

Polling

According to an August 2016 Suffolk University poll, 7% of those planning to vote for Trump thought he was racist. A November 2016 Post-ABC poll found that 50% of Americans thought Trump was biased against black people; the figure was 75% among black Americans.[153] According to a October 2017 POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 45% of voters think Trump is racist, a plurality.[154]

A Quinnipiac poll asking the question, "Since the election of Donald Trump, do you believe the level of hatred and prejudice in the U.S. has increased, the level of hatred and prejudice has decreased, or hasn't it changed either way" was conducted in December 2017. Of the respondents, 62% believed that the level had increased, 4% felt that it had decreased, and 31% felt it was without change.[155]

A Quinnipiac poll conducted in January 2018 after Trump's Oval Office comments about immigration showed that 58 percent of American voters found the comments to be racist, while 59 percent said that he does not respect people of color as much as he respects white people.[156][157]

Analysis of pre- and post-election surveys from the American National Election Studies, as well as numerous other surveys and studies, show that since the rise of Trump in the Republican party, attitudes towards racism have become a more significant factor than economic issues in determining voters' party allegiance.[26][27]

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