Racism Comes Out of the Closet – The New York Occasions


Second, although most of the commentary focuses on Trump’s demand that native-born Americans “go back” to their home countries, his description of their imaginary homelands as “crime infested” deserves some attention, too. For his fixation on crime is another manifestation of his racism.

I’m not sure how many people remember Trump’s inaugural address, which was all about “American carnage” — an alleged epidemic of violent crime sweeping our nation’s cities. He didn’t explicitly say, but clearly implied, that this supposed crime wave was being perpetrated by people with dark skins. And, of course, both Trump and the Trumpist media go on all the time about immigrant criminality.

In reality, violent crime in America’s big cities is near historical lows, and all the available evidence suggests that immigrants are, if anything, less likely than the native-born to commit crimes. But the association between nonwhites and crime is a deeply held tenet among white racists, and no amount of evidence will shake their belief.

Oh, and the real “American carnage” is the surge in “deaths of despair” from drugs, suicide and alcohol among less-educated whites. But this doesn’t fit the racist narrative.

Finally, the G.O.P.’s new comfort level with open racism should serve as a wake-up call to Democrats, both centrists and progressives, who sometimes seem to forget who and what they’re confronting.

On one side, Joe Biden’s celebration of the good relations he used to have with segregationist senators sounds even more tone-deaf than it did a month ago. Biden clearly isn’t a racist, but he needs to get a clue about how important it is to confront the racism sweeping the G.O.P.

On the other side, Democrats need to be very careful about doing anything that even hints at playing the race card against their own party. I understand progressive frustration over Nancy Pelosi’s caution and exasperation at moderate Democrats who may be causing that caution; many of us share their frustration. But there’s no equivalence between even the most foot-dragging Democrats and the G.O.P.’s raw racial incitement, and anyone who suggests otherwise is acting destructively.

It’s tempting to say that Republican claims to support racial equality were always hypocritical; it’s even tempting to welcome the move from dog whistles to open racism. But if hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, what we’re seeing now is a party that no longer feels the need to pay that tribute. And that’s deeply frightening.

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