For over five years, Donald Trump used a thinly veiled, racist, dog-whistle to create a controversy where none existed. He called an end to that disgusting ploy last week when he declared that President Obama was born in the United States. He issued no apology for creating the controversy (or for continuing it even after Obama had made public his complete record on the subject of his birth), instead lying that it had been created in 2008 by Hillary Clinton’s race against Obama. Piling one lie on another in his exceedingly short statement, he also took credit for ending it. Thus, he attempted to make himself a hero over a prolonged incident in which any thinking individual would have realized he was the villain.
Donald Trump is so despicable in every aspect of his candidacy that his outrageous statements and flagrant lies have been accepted and/or ignored by the mainstream media under the apparently accepted perspective that journalists and their colleagues in the fourth estate are only supposed to “report” what a candidate says, not fact-check it. The result has been the equivalent of a newspaper, back in the frontier days, reporting that a snake-oil salesman was offering a cure for baldness without adding that no evidence existed that the snake-oil would have any such effect.
Even the New York Times has been seemingly reluctant to point out Trump’s never-ending series of lies, often burying any mention of a falsehood in any of his wildly flamboyant claims well into an article reporting what that claim was. Television reporters have been even more reserved, as Matt Lauer evidenced in the charade of a Q and A with Trump in the televised foreign policy discussion he had with both Trump and Hillary Clinton two weeks ago.
Meanwhile polls reveal that fully forty percent of registered Republicans do not believe that Obama was born in the U.S. This amazing statistic says a lot about that segment of Trump’s supporters, to wit: they are either extremely ignorant or, more probably, are racists.
Do the math for a moment. If about thirty percent of the country’s population is registered Republican, and if forty percent of that group believe what Trump has been spewing about Obama’s “questionable” birth country, that works out to about twelve percent of the country that could well hold racist views. My guess is that figure is low; racism, in the form of antipathy for Obama specifically and successful black men more generally, may even exceed twenty percent of the U.S. population.
The bigger question, however, is whether Trump himself is in that category. The charitable answer would be that he isn’t, that instead he was just trying to attract a following by raising and pushing the birther issue. And that may be true.
But let’s not forget that Trump didn’t stop his attacks on Obama’s legitimacy when the president produced his full (long-form) birth certificate. Even then, Trump intimated the form could be a fraud. Only last week, did he give up the fight in his one-sentence admission that he ended with a defiant (as in, don’t ask me any questions) “period.”
The evidence suggesting that Trump is a racist doesn’t stop with his absurd effort to de-legitimize the president by virtue of his alleged birth in a foreign land. Over the years of Obama’s presidency, Trump has also questioned Obama’s academic record in a variety of ways, all suggesting that Obama’s success in law school (Harvard), undergraduate school (Columbia) and even high school was suspect since the president had never released any records showing his grades from any of those institutions. And he has questioned his religion, playing off of the president’s name to suggest he isn’t a Christian, but instead must be a Muslim.
Would questions of academic credentials be asked of any president other than Obama, of any president who didn’t have Obama’s skin color? Even George W. Bush, who himself admitted he was less than a top student in college and graduate school, was accepted at his word, even though some of us wondered just how bad his academic record might well have been.
And would questions about any president’s religion ever be raised in the face of a president’s stated identification with a particular religion? No one has ever questioned any president’s professed religious beliefs in an accusatory manner. But Trump questions Obama’s stated religious identity, even though his (Trump’s) self-identified religion (Presbyterian Protestant) is at least as suspect, since, presumably, even a casual practitioner of that particular faith knows that the term is Second Corinthians (not “Two Corinthians,” as Trump referred to it on one occasion).
Trump’s anti-Muslim bias isn’t limited to his questions about Obama’s religion, however. Let’s remember that he also claimed to see thousands of Muslims dancing (presumably for joy) as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. That lie (he claimed he saw the dancing on televised news coverage) was another that he has never apologized for. But, of course, Trump never apologizes, probably because in his mind if he were to apologize it would be an admission that he was wrong, and Trump is never wrong: again, in his mind.
What a truly sick, pathetic, excuse for a national candidate this guy is. And yet, as obvious as his total unfitness and lack of qualifications for the presidency are, many Republican leaders refuse to denounce him. In their silence, they betray a bias of their own, one they cling to against their better instincts.
It is really amazing to consider what is happening in this presidential campaign. One of the candidates talks and acts like a bigot, lies incessantly and unabashedly, repeatedly shows complete ignorance of policy issues, and will not release his tax returns, and he is running neck and neck with a candidate who is not trusted and not liked because she used a private e-mail server while she was the Secretary of State and otherwise doesn’t have a charismatic persona.
The choice in this election boils down to a flawed candidate who is also a committed public servant and a demagogue who is a national embarrassment.