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Trump’s Dog Whistle

Is Donald Trump a racist? Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t read what’s in his heart any better than others. I would ask in turn, was Lee Atwater a racist? Atwater created the Willie Horton ad for George H. W. Bush’s campaign. Meanwhile, Atwater enjoyed hanging out with black musicians and playing blues music. The Horton ad is one of example of how racism has been used by cynical politicians to get elected. Ian Haney Lopez’s Dog Whistle Politics examines how politicians can exploit voter bias without being blatant enough to get caught. It is called plausible deniability. In the case of Willie Horton, at no time is he identified as black. The ads don’t have to. His picture says it all; big, scary black man who looks means and angry. Flash the words “rape” and “murder” with his face and the picture is complete. If you call out Dog Whistlers on their race baiting, they will not only deny it, but accuse you of racism. Obviously, you are the one seeing something that they can pretend wasn’t intended.

The Trump Dog Whistle is no different or original. His appeals for “Law and Order” are taken directly from Richard Nixon and George Wallace. He even took “Make America Great Again” from Ronald Reagan. To Trump, America was great when it was controlled by white, heterosexual men.

Then there is Trump’s Birtherism. The goal of the Birthers is delegitimize Obama’s presidency by accusing him of being born in Africa. He is not a real American. He is an outsider, not one of us. He isn’t white. When Tea Party demonstrators say, “We want our country back,” they mean from the black man who does not have the legitimacy to run it. (BTW, Trump now blames the origins of the Birther movement on Hillary Clinton, when it as actually started by the right wingers.)

http://www.factcheck.org/2008/06/obamas-birth-certificate/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2011/apr/27/obama-birth-certificate-timeline/

http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-started-birther-movement/

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The use of the word “our” is interesting in this graphic from a Trump email. It is a photo of the Clinton’s embracing in the Oval office with the narrative “Don’t let Hillary move back into OUR White House.” The “our” is in all caps, bringing attention to the next word, which is “White.” This house is for whites. The Clintons, who associate with the black man Obama, lost their legitimacy to be there.

I blogged earlier this summer about Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow.” Again, I urge everyone to read it to understand how structural racism works in modern American society. Alexander and Lopez use the term “colorblindness” as the way Dog Whistlers shut down the discussion of racism and deny that their tactics are racist. With their bizarre logic, the Black Lives Matter movement is racist.

Trump has had trouble with disavowing support from white supremacists and has even shared their social media posts. When asked directly, he pleads ignorance. “I don’t know.” Historians have found how immigrant bashing is similar to the Know-Nothings just before the civil war.

When Trump gave his Wisconsin speech to a primarily white audience, he wanted us to believe he was appealing to black voters. In reality, he wants his prejudiced white supporters feel more comfortable with their prejudice.

Trump’s History Undermines New Outreach to Black Voters

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-s-history-undermines-new-outreach-black-voters-n635821

Trump West Bend, Wisconsin speech

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/full-text-donald-trumps-speech-on-227095

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/17/donald-trump-in-whitest-wisconsin-finally-makes-his-pitch-to-african-american-voters.html

While dying of brain cancer, Atwater came to regret his use of race to win an election. Let’s hope that something that drastic doesn’t happen to Trump before he realizes that his campaign for the presidency is a part of the problem, not the solution.

There are so many reasons why Trump should not be elected President, I have lost count. I am listing as many reasons as I can on why a Trump presidency will be a disaster. It will definitely be a setback for race relations in this country. That is why we need to defeat Donald Trump by double digits and prove that race baiting has no place in American politics.

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September 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Know Nothing Donald

Like many people early in the election season, I underestimated the support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Then Trump began to rack up delegates and force more mainstream candidates out of the race. I realized his isolationist, anti-immigrant message was striking a chord with many more people that I had been willing to accept.

Trump’s campaign has been compared to the rise of fascism in Europe before World War II, bolstered by Trump’s retweets of Neo-Nazis and Benito Mussolini himself. Much of Trump’s onstage demeanor is comparable to Mussolini. The crowds at his rallies chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” in unison, evoking the atmosphere of a Hitler rally.

Comparing Trump to Hitler can be problematic. Trump has no plans for world domination and prefers economic isolationism. Nor would he get away with building concentration camps, even if he wanted to. He’d be too busy deporting immigrants and building a wall on the Mexican border. I doubt he will even be able to get those done.

It turns out, we don’t need to look to early Twentieth Century Europe to find a comparable time in history. We can find it here in the US in the decade before the civil war. I heard historian Kathleen Frydl explain it in a radio interview. She was talking about the the Know-Nothings. Officially, they were called the American Party that rose after the dissolution of the Whigs. Know-Nothings were notable for scapegoating immigrants, then mostly Irish and Catholic. Meanwhile, the country drifted to civil war, unable to resolve the issue of slavery.

I really enjoyed Frydl’s analysis and read her article in the Huffington Post. I was familiar with the Know-Nothings. My late housemate was a history buff who had a special interest in the Whigs. He joked that William Henry Harrison was our greatest president because, by dying of pneumonia one month into his term, he was not able to do anything terrible.

Not long after reading Frydl’s article, I read the news of Trump’s appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. He was being questioned about the endorsements he was getting from David Duke and white supremacists. Trump’s response was “I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” I realized how correct Frydl turned out to be. Donald Trump is a Know-Nothing. I occasionally use the hashtag #KnowNothingDonald when I see more examples of Trump’s Know-Nothing-ism. Some examples:

Trump appeared to connect Ted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald. When confronted, he again deflected by saying he didn’t know anything about Cruz’s father.

At a rally, he told the audience that they would not be able to do anything once President Hillary Clinton begins appointing justices. He adds that “second amendment people” might find a way to do something about it, quickly followed with “I don’t know.”

When Clinton came down with a case of pneumonia, which is a lot more curable now than in Harrison’s time, Trump responded on Fox News. ”I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know what’s going on,” Trump said. “The coughing fit was a week ago — I assume that was pneumonia also.”

Today, Trump bashes immigrants, especially Mexicans, and Muslims. Ask him about global warming, and he replies it is a hoax. Just as the Know-Nothings did in the Nineteenth Century, Trump bashes immigrants, while not dealing with the serious issues that we confront in the Twenty-first Century. Let’s hope the story doesn’t have the same tragic ending.

Know Nothing politicians won’t take responsibility for the actions of the people they provoke. That for me, is the most disturbing part. They send coded messages to their supporters, called the Dog Whistle. I will write more about that later. Before that, I would like to address Trump and civil rights. Stay tuned.

See Kathleen Frydl’s article in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-frydl/donald-trump-and-the-know_b_8314110.html

Also, 2016 Republicans: A “Know Nothing” party for the 21st Century by Mark DeLucia in Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2016/07/31/2016_republicans_a_know_nothing_party_for_the_21st_century/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment