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Is Donald Trump a Racist?

Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

Former President Donald Trump has been called many things.

So many things.

Savior, hero, victim, election denier, tyrant, demagogue, insurrectionist, victimizer, misogynist, bigotracist.

Trump represents very different things to different people.

And in nearly everyone, Trump inspires a strong reaction.

Between the variance of opinions, and the intensity of opinions, determining who Donald Trump really is becomes complicated quickly.

Most aren’t inclined to try; most are very content with adhering to partisan designations of who Trump is and what he represents.

But let’s take a closer look at one facet of Trump’s character, the persistent charge, from the left, that Trump is a racist. Is Trump a racist? Or is Trump getting caught up in the recent over-expansion of the term racism (or any -ism)?

Is Donald Trump a Racist?

I don’t know Trump in a personal capacity. I’ve never been in a room with Trump. I certainly don’t know what he says in private or how the inner workings of his mind work. I don’t know whether he is a true racist or not.

Racism is a serious charge – one that shouldn’t be made lightly, so I’m not going to paint Trump as a racist when I don’t know whether he’s a racist.

I am also reluctant to indulge in anything like the ongoing expansion, amongst the left, of all the “isms.”

What I mean by that is that left-wingers have taken to calling more and more things racist, sexist, classist, and so on. And oftentimes, a charge of an -ism is weaponized, for political reasons.

All that being said, I’ve got a suspicion that Trump’s views on race may be “outdated.” Most people are a product of their time – and Trump is pushing 80 years old. He grew up in the 50s and 60s amongst racial viewpoints that probably wouldn’t pass muster today.

Has Trump internalized these outdated racial viewpoints? I don’t know but it’s certainly possible.

I can’t point to anything Trump has done or said that concretely proves he’s a racist. Granted, I’m working with a less expansive definition of racism than many modern-day liberals – who will eagerly point to several things Trump has done or said that indicates full-blown racism.

Things like Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” which prohibited immigration from a handful of Muslim countries under the premise that the immigrants were more likely to be Islamic terrorists.

Or things like Trump’s advocacy for inflicting the death penalty upon the Central Park Five back in the 80s. The Central Park Five were a group of black teenagers, from Harlem, who were wrongly convicted of brutalizing a white female jogger in Central Park. Trump wanted the State of New York to kill the boys – who were later proven innocent.

Then there was Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville Unite the Right protests, where Trump said people on both sides were causing problems – a statement that many took as Trump drawing an equivalency between neo-Nazi antisemites and left-wing counter-protesters. And of course, you have the whole “Wuhan Flu” thing.

Right, so, I don’t know if Trump is racist or not. My best guess, like I said, is he holds some outdated views. I’m not going to charge the guy with racism when I don’t know if he’s racist – doing so would be irresponsible.

Although would I be surprised to find that Donald Trump qualified, under some commonly accepted definition, as racist? No, I would not.    

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.