As the saying goes, bigots gonna bigot.
On Thursday, president Donald Trump followed in the footsteps of many other hack entertainers trying to salvage what’s left of their career with a reboot. In his case, it was a nod to “birtherism”, the beginning of his surreal yet somehow predictable political ascension.
The path towards that victory began with Trump questioning the legitimacy of the first black president several years prior, and in the process, gaining a following among a Republican base long fed racist tropes – a factoid now being acknowledged by some veteran Republican operatives themselves. For as some writers like Steven Thrasher warned us before election day in 2016, “Every bold advancement of progress in the United States is met by a racist backlash.”
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Trump seems to be aiming for similar success with a rehash of such racist idiocy now applied to Kamala Harris, who could now potentially serve as the nation’s first black, Asian and woman vice president.
And as it was with former president Barack Obama, Trump is merely hitching himself to a conspiracy already floating around. Newsweek recently published an opinion piece by a writer questioning Kamala Harris’s legitimacy. I will not dignify the details of the conspiracy as I’m suffered enough living under the dumbest parable ever within the last six months. I sometimes criticise news organisations like the Associated Press for not calling out racism more directly, but they nailed it with the headline “Trump gives credence to false, racist Harris theory”.
Those of us who knew the dangers that lie beneath racist rhetoric like birtherism cautioned those with influential platforms not to give Trump room to spread, and subsequently, build a following behind nothing more than racist folklore.
We knew that if he were ever given a position of power, he would put action behind much of his hateful words. Those concerns were brushed aside for presidential endorsements, and when Trump became a candidate himself, ratings, profits, and political power. His administration has since proven those fears were not expressed in vain. See Stephen Miller, who not only writes terrible speeches for Trump, but influences even worse immigration policy like say, the construction of glorified concentration camps for migrants and their children and making legal immigration an even bigger hell.
In the middle of a pandemic in which so many people are dying and will continue to die without more direct intervention and guidance from our federal government, he spends his time blabbering some bulls*** about Kamala Harris. Trump and the GOP have apparently feared Harris’ political potential since June 2019, but as sort of amusing as it is to discover they still don’t know how to handle her politically, we Americans have bigger problems. That’s why I’m already incensed that the failures of the last birther conspiracy are being repeated by some members of the press.
The morning after Trump further embarrassed the nation by using a forum that could have been spent solely focused on how a country besieged by the worst medical crisis in more than a century to talk about stupid things he read on the internet, his equally foolish son-in-law, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, mirrored Trump’s efforts to not necessarily directly lend credence to the conspiracy being leveraged at Harris, but leaving enough room for doubt so that others can continue speculating.
Kushner is unqualified for his job, so he should not be asked about the qualifications of a woman who has actually earned her positions in life. Elsewhere, far too many spent too much time discussing something so indecent, and again, utterly stupid. To lean into the spectacle and shock value of Trump’s latest nonsense is to once again entirely engage in gross irresponsibility.
Jared Kushner didn’t need to be asked about Trump’s latest dabbling in racist conspiracy theories when there is a Vanity Fair report that chronicles the Kushner-led failures of the Trump administration to put together a national testing plan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. When I read that those plans were abandoned based on the sentiment that it was a “blue state” and “urban” problem, I rightly interpreted as a collision of ignorance and prejudice. I care less about their thoughts on baseless racist conspiracies and care more about how they justify their actions.
Some might call that hyperbole, but you’re not the one watching black people you know die because this government doesn’t care and is headed by a man who so violently makes clear that his interests supersede everyone else’s – even in a pandemic. So much so that conspiracies matter more than lives.
We know Donald Trump is a man of little intellectual curiosity and known for general laziness, which is why he can’t help but go with describing Harris as “mean” and “nasty” because she’s a woman and illegitimate because she’s black. For the millionth time, when a man employs racist rhetoric and study after study confirms a number of his supporters are just as racist, they mean what they say.
The question is are we really about to let him play this same stupid game with people’s lives this way again?