Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner for president, does not shy away from racially offensive comments and open displays of white supremacy. The latest from the Trump camp, an attack on a #BlackLivesMatter supporter at a Trump rally, and the candidate’s response, reveals a great deal about the man. But more importantly, that he leads the GOP pack despite his racism, or perhaps because of it, speaks volumes about the current state of America and race consciousness.
On Saturday, a Black activist interrupted a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, shouting “Black lives matter!” The man, Mercutio Southall, Jr., a well-known activist in the area, fell and was surrounded by a mob of white men, who proceeded to punch and kick him. As one of the men placed his hand around the Black protester’s neck, a woman repeatedly shouted, “Don’t choke him!”
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) November 21, 2015
During the assault on the man, Trump responded in true form.
“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said of Southall. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”
The next day, Trump said the pummeling of the man who was “so obnoxious and so loud” was justified, according to the Washington Post.
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump told Fox News. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.”
But the GOP frontrunner did not stop there. Trump took to Twitter, retweeting a set of erroneous statistics suggesting that Blacks are responsible for the killing of most Black people and the killing of most whites.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2015
In reality, according to FBI data, most Blacks are killed by Blacks, but most whites are killed by whites, as most people killed by someone they know. And in America, chances are you will live in the same community as others who look just like you. Further, according to Washington Post data, Trump’s figures on police killings are in error, as 25 percent of the 873 people who were killed by police this year were Black, and 47 percent were white. None of the presidential contenders from either party have denounced Trump’s tweet.
In the world of Donald Trump, the truth be damned. He has a long, sordid history of criminalizing Black men, stoking the fires of white supremacy and serving as hype man for the lynch mob. In 1989, after the rape of a female jogger in Central Park, New York, leading to the wrongful conviction of five Black and Latino teens, Trump took out full-page advertisements in four New York City papers calling for the return of the death penalty. Referring to “roving bands of wild criminals,” Trump said “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” At the time, the victim was still in a coma.
Last year, when the city of New York settled with the men for $40 million for their wrongful conviction, Trump called the agreement a “disgrace.”
Trump is a disgrace, but he only reflects the disease of blatant, unabashed racism that already existed among white America. What we are witnessing is the 21st century incarnation of the white lynch mob, the race riot against Black progress, readjusted for present-day realities.
Exactly 100 years ago, America welcomed the film Birth of A Nation, which characterized the Ku Klux Klan as heroes and Blacks as rapists and politically dominating over whites. President Woodrow Wilson enthusiastically embraced the film, which encouraged a resurgence of white supremacist violence against Black people and led to race riots across the country.
Fast forward a century, and white Americans are once again rioting against Black people. They want their country back. The mentality of white supremacy is reflected in the backlash against the #BlackLivesMatter movement, whose protesters are painted as cop killers, and the reaction to Black student protesters fighting campus racism, who are characterized as politically correct, overly-sensitive whiners. Donald Trump, who questioned President Obama’s birth certificate, has capitalized on white Afrophobia, along with Islamophobia and anti-Latino sentiment, and he knows there will be no consequences for his actions. Rather, his standing in the polls increases with his racist statements and positions, and the mainstream media rewards him with free publicity in the form of a Barbara Walters interview, and as the host of Saturday Night Live.
White supremacy sells, and Trump knows it.