Is Donald Trump a bigot? A racist? Neither? Both?
The fact is, we don’t actually know. Nor can we, unless we know him in a personal sense. But, none of us actually does. Yes, his detractors can ALL point at some pretty bigoted and inflammatory stuff that has flown out of his mouth. But, his supporters can ALL dredge up just as many quotes that prove that Mr. Trump is not in fact bigoted, racist, or even, in their eyes, biased.
Mike, a friend of mine, who I’ve known for well over a decade is a major support of Trump’s campaign, and has stated in no uncertain terms that the Donald has his vote. He and I, in countless phone calls or meetings at a pub over a cold beer have debated the merits of Mr. Trump, and he has said, on more than one occasion, in response to my saying, “Yeah, but what about when Trump said (insert Trump quote)?” with a wholehearted, “C’Mon you’re a smart guy! You know that’s not what he MEANT. What he meant was (insert Trump follow-up quote).
I enjoy these exchanges with Mike, because I believe that good debate is healthy, and I also believe that you should have discussions with people who think differently than yourself, to get some clarity and grounding in your own beliefs. Mike and I will probably never have a meeting of the minds on what Trump thinks about people who are different than Trump himself.
And I’m ok with that.
Bigot or not, in my opinion, what Donald Trump actually is, is something far worse. He is a magnet that gives bigots and racists credence, a platform that seems to legitimize their beliefs into something far more mainstream. And he has done little or nothing to distance himself from these people.
Conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg, said this morning on NPR that he didn’t feel that Trump was a bigot, but, that he seemed to “play footsie with bigots in the party”. He shrugged it as if it was the cost of doing business in the modern GOP. Not advisable, but not wholly unavoidable either.
What I think Mr Goldberg and Mr Trump fail to realize, is that, in the eyes of people of color, like myself, lending aid and comfort to bigots, while purporting to not be one yourself, is actually WORSE than being a bigot. I have a modicum of respect for the bigot…certainly, his beliefs are reprehensible, but, at least his stands by them. But, to claim you don’t agree with a bigot, while still standing there and supporting their rhetoric, or worse, allowing their rhetoric to support YOU?
That’s classless and cowardly.
I’d rather KNOW a guy is a racist or a bigot. Than to have him smile in my face, say he respects me, while at the same time supporting those who hate me.