President Trump has been calling a lot of people racist lately. Most of these people, as it so happens, are people of color. This is not a coincidence.
Trump’s latest target is Reverend Al Sharpton, who is in Baltimore on Monday following the president’s tweets that the congressional district of House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
Sharpton, Trump wrote in a string of tweets on Monday, is a “conman” who “Hates Whites & Cops!”
I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He “loved Trump!” He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops! https://t.co/ZwPZa0FWfN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2019
Hollering that Sharpton “Hates Whites” is the latest example of Trump’s pattern of gaslighting whenever he is accused of being racist. It goes like this: First, Trump levels a racist attack. Then, backed by conservative media and his lackeys in Congress, he claims that the attack was not racist. Finally, he says the people of color he was attacking are the real racists.
Trump skipped straight Step 3 with Sharpton, but efforts to counter the backlash that followed his offensives against congresswomen of color and, over the weekend, Rep. Cummings, were nearly identical.
When Trump tweeted earlier this month that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” — maybe the most explicitly racist comments he has made as president — Republican lawmakers tried to rationalize the attacks as a simple ideological challenge, while glomming on to the president’s absurd “love it or leave it” logic (which would preclude any legislator from remaining in the country while someone of the opposing party is in the White House).
Once this ham-fisted narrative had been awkwardly jammed into the news cycle, Trump called the congresswomen racist. “The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart,” he tweeted.
The fallout from president’s racist attacks against Rep. Cummings — which, like his attacks against the congresswomen, were fired off in a fit of rage as he was watching Fox News programming — played out the same way. Republicans cried that there was nothing racist about tweets, and that Trump was only speaking the truth about conditions in the district of his most prominent African-American critic in Congress. Then, like clockwork, Trump called Cummings racist.
If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership. His radical “oversight” is a joke!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
The charges of racism against the congresswomen and Rep. Cummings are borne strictly from the fact that Trump’s own racist attacks were labeled as such by the media. The tweets are no more sophisticated than a grade schooler reflexively yelling, “I know you are but what am I?” But they are more insidious, meant as a continual distraction to the president engaging in an overtly racist campaign style.
He did it back in February, too, responding the acceptance speech Spike Lee delivered after winning the best adapted screenplay Oscar for BlacKkKlansman. In the speech, Lee praised his ancestors for building America, and called for Americans to choose love over hate in 2020. He did not mention the Trump, or accuse him of racism. Nevertheless, Trump lashed out, calling the speech a “racist hit on your President.”
Trump has also baselessly called Barack Obama a racist on several occasions, and while tweeting about Obama in 2013, even gave a preview of the pattern that has played out innumerable times since he launched his presidential campaign. “Isn’t it interesting that anybody who attacks President Obama is considered a racist by the real racists out there!” he wrote.
Isn't it intetesting that anybody who attacks President Obama is considered a racist by the real racists out there!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2013
At the time of the tweet, Trump was less than a year removed from offering to donate $5 million to charity if Obama agreed to release “his college records and applications” and his “passport applications and records,” and still pushing his conspiracy theory that Obama was actually born in Africa, a belief he’s reportedly held as recently as 2017, according to the New York Times.
We’re going to go ahead and guess he still holds it.