Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

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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.)


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

Trump West Bend, Wisconsin speech

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.

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

Fred Phelps

It is official now that Fred Phelps is dead, and many of us who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer are not mourning. His Westboro Baptist Church infuriated us with their “God Hates Fags” signs. While it is easy to cheer Phelps’ death as a victory over discrimination and intolerance, few of us have done more for LGBTQ equality than the Reverend Phelps. The church he led is so full of hatred, his congregation has become a symbol for the true ugliness of homophobia. We see their hypocrisy of professing to be Christians while rejecting everything Jesus Christ taught. If there are any individuals or groups who have brought empathy to the condition of gay people and support for our civil rights, they include Phelps and the folks at Westboro Baptist Church.

Let the Westboro funeral picketers have their first amendment rights. Let them speak and show how irrational their hatred is. Trying to shut them up only gains them sympathy. Phelps has been to our civil rights movement what Lester Maddox, “Bull” Connor, and George Wallace were to the African American civil rights movement in the sixties. Maddox used an ax handle to keep blacks out of his chicken restaurant. Connor used fire hoses to knock people down for simply marching in the street to demand their rights. Wallace stood in the doorway of a public university to prevent blacks from attending. Their actions made them symbols of segregation and Jim Crow. Their use of brute force not only failed to preserve racial segregation, they actually contributed to the success of a movement based in non-violent resistance.

While Phelps and Westboro did not inflict physical violence against us, their message was violent and painful. For that, we should look at Phelps and Westboro no differently than the civil rights leaders of the sixties viewed the segregationists. We start by not hating the hater. If we view racism and hatred as illnesses, we find that people can be cured of this suffering. Before he died, George Wallace would regret his earlier support for segregation. In a public demonstration where Wallace held hands with African Americans he once hated, SCLC President Joseph Lowery, praised him “for coming out of your sickness to meet us. You are a different George Wallace today. We both serve a God who can make the desert bloom. We ask God’s blessing on you.”

Quakers seek God in every person. We know that people do evil things. That does not make them inherently evil. Being a part of God means we are inherently good and only do evil when we suffer from ignorance, fear, and hatred.

I found that coming out of that suffering involves recognizing that those being oppressed are no different than I am. When I was a child in the fifties, I remember playing in the streets on hot, summer nights. Sometimes it was in my own South Jersey neighborhood and sometimes in Philadelphia where many of my father’s relatives lived. In the sixties, I became a fan of Bill Cosby. His comedy described the kids playing in the streets of Philadelphia. I realized that black kids playing in Bill Cosby’s neighborhood were no different than the kids I played with in white neighborhoods. We all played the same games and acted the same way. On TV news, I saw how people were being treated differently because their skin color was different. They were being beaten and jailed for speaking out against their oppression. If a person with a different skin color is otherwise no different than I am, I thought then, why should that person be treated any differently? Why shouldn’t that person have the same rights and freedom I have? I found that growing up in a family that held racist beliefs did not sentence me to holding those harmful beliefs. I could learn to be different.

It is easy to create an enemy. You start by denying that person his or her humanity. I counter that with this thought: start see humans and stop seeing monsters. Humans can do monstrous things, but that doesn’t make them monsters. They are merely frightened, insecure humans, acting defensively in the cause of self preservation. Their biological flight or fight response has been set on fight. They bully to divert attention to the one who is weaker in their group and away from themselves so that others don’t perceive their own fear and weakness.

Was Fred Phelps having a change of heart similar to George Wallace’s? There are reports that he was excommunicated for wanting church members to be nicer to each other. We may never know if he was having a change of heart toward LGBTQ people. Even if it is too late for Fred, it is still not too late for the congregation he left behind. It is not too late for them to realize they are no different than we are. As more of us come out, homophobic people are discovering we include their friends, relatives, and neighbors. Even if they haven’t changed now, we love them just the same.

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment