He is. I’ve been writing about the racist Right for more than 30 years – and fighting them as a lawyer, or as a political activist, for almost as long. I know one when I see one.
When Lisa and I worked for Hillary Clinton, everyone else on the campaign knew that Trump was a white supremacist, too. It was accepted as fact. Hillary even gave a celebrated speech about it, here. You should read it.
And here’s one thing I’ve learned in all those years writing about white supremacists and neo-Nazis: you should never assume that, just because you’ve written an exhaustively-researched, 3,655-word tour de force speech that documents how Donald Trump is a racist, that about a third of your audience aren’t racist, too. Because they were. And are.
At lunch at Hillary’s Brooklyn headquarters a few days before the presidential vote, I said as much to a senior Clifton staffer. “I think the case to prosecute is that he is unfit to be president,” I said. “Not so much that he’s a racist. Because, you know…”
Because a plurality of Americans are racist too.
But I didn’t say that, because I’m a polite Canadian, and I was just a lowly volunteer on her campaign. I didn’t say what, to me, I had believed for a long time: Donald Trump said and did racist things because he knew many Americans were racist, too.
And he won because of that, not despite that.
Anyway, here we are. There has been an unprecedented explosion in hate crime and hate activity in the past year. In that time – and partly because of the release of Recipe For Hate – I have done literally hundreds of interviews and speeches about what is going on, all over the U.S. and Canada and Europe. And here is what I have said every time.
The beast of fascism is awake. And it is awake because of Trump.
Why? Because Donald Trump has given the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis hope. He has legitimized them. If one of us can win the most powerful office on Earth, we can do anything. That’s what they say to each other. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
Here’s the New York Times this morning, in a front-page story about the same thing, as it has played out with school kids:
Last year’s contentious presidential election gave oxygen to hate. An analysis of F.B.I. crime data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found a 26 percent increase in bias incidents in the last quarter of 2016 — the heart of the election season — compared with the same period the previous year. The trend has continued into 2017, with the latest partial data for the nation’s five most populous cities showing a 12 percent increase.
In addition, anti-Muslim episodes have nearly doubled since 2014, according to Brian Levin, the director of the center, which he said has also counted more “mega rallies” by white nationalists in the last two years than in the previous 20. “I haven’t seen anything like this during my three decades in the field,” he said.
Peppered among these incidents is a phenomenon distinct from the routine racism so familiar in this country: the provocative use of “Trump,” after the man whose comments about Mexicans, Muslims and undocumented immigrants — coupled with his muted responses to white nationalist activity — have proved so inflammatory. His words have also become an accelerant…
How will it all end? In more blood, I’m afraid. It is inevitable. They are going to do all that they can to prevent another Alabama – Charlottesville-type racist rallies, gerrymandering, vote suppression, fraud, firing Mueller. Whatever it takes, they’ll fucking do it. They didn’t get this far to let it all slip away, believe me.
Every day, pollsters methodically document how Donald Trump is the most unpopular president in the history of polling. Only third of Americans approve of his performance, they say, and the media always cheerfully report that. His racism and his extremism are taking a toll, they say.
But they’re looking at it in the wrong way.
That one-third isn’t shrinking. It’s rock-solid. It’s the one third of Americans who know Trump is a racist, and a homophobe, and a misogynist. They know it.
And they like it.