President Trump this week, responding in a C-SPAN interview to a question about his overt racism, says the word is overused and essentially meaningless. Thus he won’t be bothered by our cover this week, which rightly labels the sitting president a racist.
As if Charlottesville hadn’t confirmed his white supremacist sympathies, Trump in the past couple of weeks has insulted a group of four sitting members of Congress, all of whom happen to be women of color, telling them to “go back” where they came from, ignoring that some of them have been here longer than his own immigrant wife.
But he didn’t stop there. This week, he turned his attentions — and his overused Twitter account — to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who just happens to chair the House Committee on Oversight & Reform, which is probing various scandals of the administration. His attacks extended beyond Cummings personally to include the city of Baltimore and Cummings’s district, which Trump described as a “filthy & dangerous place … No human being would want to live there.”
As someone who lives in Baltimore not far from Cummings’s district, I can assure you that many people live quite well in the 7th congressional district. Of course Baltimore has its well-documented problems but, as usual, Trump conveniently ignores facts while propagating his racist agenda. He doesn’t attack red states that voted for him like Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, which rank lowest in education, highest in poverty, most dependent on federal aid, most polluted and most dangerous, as highlighted this week by USA Today. Instead, Trump’s targets are largely limited to black and brown lawmakers, reporters and other critics who condemn his racism.
Make no mistake that his embrace of racist tropes is a deliberate attempt to distract mainstream media attention from the myriad investigations and scandals plaguing his administration — and to gin up his redneck racist base for 2020.
But calling out Trump’s racism isn’t taking the bait. It’s merely the right thing to do. Sensible Americans of all backgrounds must denounce this reckless, dangerous use of the bully pulpit. It will lead to violence and already has. When Trump labels the media the “enemy of the people” and then a gunman storms the Capital Gazette one year ago, killing five journalists, he has blood on his hands. When he embraces white supremacist ideology and plays footsie with David Duke and a racist protester plows his car into a crowd, killing a counter-protester, he has blood on his hands. When he denounces four members of Congress as somehow un-American or illegitimate and they subsequently receive a torrent of death threats, the link is undeniable. Trump is using the power of the bully pulpit to incite violence against his critics.
All of that leads us to this week’s Blade cover as we join the chorus of voices calling all of this what it is: racist, plain and simple. And the silence from gay conservatives is disturbing, disappointing and hypocritical. Where are the Log Cabin Republicans, who ostensibly have at least some access to the administration? Under former executive director Gregory Angelo, Log Cabin declined to endorse Trump in 2016. But his successor, Jerri Ann Henry, is silent amid Trump’s racist Tweet storms.
Charles Moran, a Log Cabin spokesperson, told the Blade this week when asked about the racist Tweets: “Coupled with a roaring economy and a focus on improving the lives of the average American worker, I think it’s safe to say that gay conservatives and Log Cabin Republican members are still quite pleased with their support of President Trump and are unwavering in their support.”
“Unwavering support” for a racist. There you have it. His response will not age well. And the silence of gay conservatives, including Log Cabin, Trump’s own gay appointees and media personalities like former “Don’t Ask, Don’t’ Tell” activist Rob Smith, equals complicity.
Perhaps the term “racist” is overused as Trump asserts. But sometimes the shoe fits. Those who remain silent or, worse, continue to support Trump, are enabling a wannabe authoritarian whose reckless impulses will lead to more violence.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.