Trying to understand President Donald Trump is a difficult task. Is he a pathological narcissist, both psychologically and intellectually unfit for office? Is he an international con artist, masterfully evading every penny of due taxes while simultaneously covering up naughty collusions with neo-czarist regimes? Is he a school yard bully in a septuagenarian’s body? A connoisseur of petty insults and epithets? An illiterate buffoon? A sexist? A racist? A homophobe?!
To the Left, Donald Trump is all these things—just not all at the same time. When he fired FBI Director James Comey, Trump was flagrantly concealing his Russia ties. When he suggested the Charlottesville counterprotesters included some “bad dudes,” he was ever so subtly dog-whistling his fellow Klansmen. He is either a bumbling fool, or a cunning villain. He is either a godless sinner or a hillbilly Christian fundamentalist. Each mainstream media headline Trump stars in includes the most situationally appropriate negative label. To common folk, the enigma that is Trump is made even more opaque when such contradictory explanations are presented.
If only the Left could agree on Trump’s quintessential essence. What is the common denominator that informs all his vile actions? What makes him tick? What is the most fundamental aspect that puts the Trump in Trump?
Ta-Nehisi Coates On Trump and His Country
In an Atlantic article published on September 7, we finally received the answer: Trump is white. No, not orange or beige. Not even slightly eggshell. Trump is nauseatingly pure white. He is so white that, contrary to popular belief, Trump is “the first white president.”
This surprising revelation is laid bare in an extract from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ coming book, “We Were Eight Years in Power.” As in many of Coates’ pieces, this essay gives us a haunting glimpse into the racial underpinnings of America’s history. From our nation’s colonial days to Civil War, from the Jim Crow era to the election of the 45th president, Coates paints a portrait of America overwhelmingly animated by the ideology of white supremacy. In Coates’ work, white nationalism, white power, and white privilege all coalesce into the “bloody heirloom” that Trump brazenly used to propel himself into the Oval Office.
In a stunning work of narrative alchemy, Coates takes a sample of Trump’s controversial quotes and political directives and transforms them into beaming pearls of white supremacy. Trump’s (admittedly laughable) birtherism had not an inkling to do with Barak Obama’s globetrotting childhood, but rather was “a recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built.” When Trump (inelegantly) proposed that illegal immigration included elements of criminality, he was actually posturing as “the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican rapists.”
Coates seems to suggest that any Trumpian gaffe is no more than a veiled racist invective. When Covfefe is finally de-coded, we will likely find that, in fact, it was the first chapter of “Mein Kampf” tightly compressed into seven characters.
Obama’s Legacy, In The Eyes Of Ta-Nehisi Coates
To be fair, Coates runs other politicians through his nifty implicit racism x-ray machine. He suggests that Bill Clinton’s “tough on crime” legacy was an excuse to incarcerate the black youth population. Neither does he forget to reference Hillary’s “Super Predator” speech. Presidential throwbacks the likes of Richard Nixon and Franklin D. Roosevelt are all implicated for their part in white identity politics.
Trump’s bigotry, however, is different from past racist executives because of one vital factor: he was elected after Barack Obama. Trump is the first white president because Trump is the first post-black president.
Coates endorses a claim made by historian Nell Irvin Painter that “race is an idea, not a fact,” and goes on to extrapolate that “essential to the construct of a white race is the idea of not being a n—–.” To exist, whiteness requires the prerequisite of blackness. To be white is inherently nothing but the act of not being black, a bleak interpretation of a violently whirling Yin and Yang.
That race is a construct not so much rooted in biology as informed by culture is by no means a ridiculous claim. There are very good reasons to support this understanding of race. However, what Coates goes on to deduce with this logic is rather sinister. In more colorful language than my own, Coates proceeds to reclassify the building blocks of Obama’s legacy as being themselves black: black health-care reform, black climate accords, and black justice reform. The Iran nuclear agreement was black. Obergefell vs. Hodges was also black, as was the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
So when and if Trump modifies, erases, or replaces any Obama endeavors, he is essentially warring against blackness. Coates sets up a scenario in which any opposition to an Obama policy is sheer racism.
Is The Left About Class Struggle, Or Identity Politics?
This is what Coates most masterfully does with his article. He recounts real historical examples of appalling racial inequality, and then he myopically examines policies and statements through the lens of race theory, finally concluding that any right-of-center policy is racist.
Well, he is no different than the leftists that post herein. Everything boils down to race and, supposedly, that shuts down all logical debate. Settled science, debate over.
A Catholic cannot be a judge because they will inevitably act like a Catholic. A white guy cannot be President because everything he will do will be white-centric. What the left demands is an amoral, black, liberal, radical socialist. That’s the only way to get fair treatment.
Nothing racist or bigoted about that.