You may not be aware of it, but if you voted for Donald Trump for president it is because you are a racist.
That’s the upshot of a 10,000-word essay in The Atlantic by Adam Serwer, a senior editor. It is positively Kafka-esque. If you don’t think you are a racist, that only proves you are.
If you had other, articulable reasons for voting for Trump, those are mere cover-ups for your true racist intentions.
If you are a conservative and adjudged Trump the only game in town, you are racist by virtue of having conservative views, which are mere sophistry constructed to hide your racism. There is no escape.
“The plain meaning of Trumpism exists in tandem with denials of its implications; supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly,” Serwer wrote. “But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.”
Trump’s supporters, and the rest of the nation, were in denial about why they voted for Trump and “searched desperately for an alternative explanation – outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety – to the one staring them in the face. The frequent postelection media expeditions to Trump country to see whether fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake.”
Trump poses as a nationalist, but that’s only a dog signal for racism – as his ban on unvetted people from countries with a history of terrorism, his stepped-up immigration enforcement, his moves against voter fraud and to abdicate the Justice Department’s “constitutional responsibility to protect black Americans … from discriminatory financial practices” prove.
It is not racist, one supposes, to assume black people – but not others – need the Justice Department to protect them from their own bad judgments.
Serwer laments Trump’s pledges to “use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities” without a hint of irony considered his predecessor’s flagrant use of state power against people of a different color and religion from him.
Trump has made the case for a return to law and order and truly enforcing our immigration laws … because of racism, of course. Speaking to working-class Americans about trade and jobs and salaries, which carried him to three upset victories in the Upper Midwest that gave him the White House, was not Trump addressing a real mood of economic anxiety in the country but another dog whistle for his racist supporters.
The relevant factor in support for Trump among white voters was not education or even income but the ideological frame with which they understood their challenges and misfortunes,” Serwer wrote. Economic anxiety, he wrote, is a “euphemism turned running joke” and “regular Americans” means white people.
By contrast, the rich, poor and people of color voted for Hillary because Trump’s solutions “were premised on a national vision that excluded them as full citizens,” he wrote.
“What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth, but of power,” Serwer wrote in what amounts to a universal dismissal of all claims that don’t originate with him.
Racism prevented white people from seeing President Obama as the “least liberal president since World War II and the biggest moderate in the White House since Dwight Eisenhower.”
Birtherism, Serwer contended, “is rightly remembered as a racist conspiracy theory, born of an inability to accept the legitimacy of the first black president.” Actually, it was an effort by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008 to find a way to delegitimize Obama in the Democrat primaries.
If the rules didn’t prevent someone born in Kenya from serving as president, we never would have heard a word about where Obama was born, and nobody would have cared that he played cat and mouse about the subject for a decade before presenting something he claimed to be his birth certificate but which is not.
“History has a way of altering villains so that we can no longer see ourselves in them,” Serwer wrote. That turned out to be far more accurate than he intended.