July 7, 2016 1:54 pm -

Ari Rabin-Havt has it right:

Throughout his career, Trump has used bigotry in the same way he has used bankruptcy. It is a tool that he uses to achieve personal or, now, political profit.

In previous decades, to benefit his casino business, Trump ran ads claiming a Native American tribe’s “record of criminal activity is well documented.” When an allegedly mob-connected high roller demanded his casino floor be cleared of African-American dealers, Trump’s staff at the Taj Mahal readily complied. (For that bigoted act he was fined $200,000.)


Seeking publicity in the 1980s, he stoked racial tensions in New York, running ads following the arrest of five African-American teens in connection with a horrific rape in Central Park, calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty. The teens were later exonerated after spending years in prison. Yusef Salaam, one of the falsely accused, called Trump the “fire starter.”

Trump’s recent success in politics has been in large part thanks to his willingness to exploit racial mistrust for his own benefit. His political rise began when he attached himself to racist claims that President Obama might not have been born in the United States. While announcing his candidacy, Trump claimed that Mexicans migrants are “rapists.” Later, he declared that as president he would bar Muslims from entering the United States.

For decades Republicans have obeyed Lee Atwater’s maxim and sought to use ever more coded language to hide their electoral appeals to racism and bigotry. Trump’s campaign is unconventional in the way that he has broken with this pattern as well.

Political racism is no longer expressed through campaign ads showing an understated glance from a single African-American prisoner walking through the revolving door of a prison or a pair of white hands crumpling a piece of paper. Like his buildings, Trump’s bigotry knows no subtlety. His campaign’s attempts to stoke racial animus are loud, brash, plated in gold and stamped with his name.

Trump may or may not be a bigot, but his message is designed to advance bigotry by promoting it as the answer to any number of economic and social problems. This message has understandably attracted those who openly and proudly promote hate. It is no accident at this point that his campaign has repeatedly retweeted whitesupremacists’ accounts.



D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.