My parents told me and my siblings never to say the word "retard." Still, we called each other "spazzes" with reckless abandon. I grew up in a time when, and place where, it wasn't uncommon for racist jokes to be told with little reflection on the harm they caused. Some were told by my father, whom I didn't consider racist because of his friendship with, kindness to, and deferential treatment of people of different races and nations, including my friends.
Later in life, it felt troubling when people close to me mocked my gay friends, used the "N" word, called Middle Easterners "towel heads," and referred to homeless people as "winos" and "bums." A friend's husband once used a racial slur to suggest that Black people are lazy. With a pounding heart and a face flush with indignation, I've challenged antisemitic, homophobic, sexist and racist tropes. Years ago, I ignorantly used the slur "White trash." I'll be forever grateful to the White woman I was speaking with who schooled me about the ways in which the term is offensive, wrong and hurtful. I've never said it since.
Long before Calvin was born, I became sensitive to the bigotry and oppression that non-White, non-male, non-straight, non-Christian, poor, and homeless people face. I owe that to the many African American and gay men and women I've loved, lived with and befriended, and to my Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Muslim, Latino and Jewish coworkers, friends and neighbors in Seattle, San Francisco and Maine. For years, I've done in-depth study of this nation's systemic racism; research shows racial discrimination occurs at all levels of government and society including housing, healthcare, education, employment, lending, criminal justice and voting. My son Calvin has given me firsthand experience of what it means to live with disability—its limitations, its stigma, its burdens and hardships. It wasn't until after his birth that I learned that children and adults like him were the first of millions to be executed during Hitler's Holocaust. This knowledge has stayed with me, and has further informed my opinions about bigotry and the dangers of otherism.
Despite what I see as dubious foreign policy, blatant and astonishing self-dealing, shady and felonious henchmen, petty and vindictive tweets, and reckless handling of the coronavirus pandemic, it's my love and support for vulnerable, oppressed and marginalized Americans, immigrants and refugees that is at the heart of my criticism of Trump and his administration's harmful policies. I mean, who cruelly separates infants, toddlers and teens from their parents for any reason? Trump does. For someone who claims to be Christian, that policy is the antithesis of godly; in other words, it's evil, and tantamount to terrorism.
As if the past four years of Trump's racist, xenophobic, antisemitic, homophobic and transphobic rhetoric and policies weren't enough, yesterday, I saw a video in which Trump, at a mid-September rally this fall in Minnesota, said to the crowd:
"You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it’s about the genes isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory—you think we're so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”
For those of you who don't know what the racehorse theory is, it's the premise that selective breeding— eugenics—can improve a nation’s performance. German Nazis used this theory as the basis for exterminating those they deemed as undesirable, to advance their attempt at racial purity and strength.
Until now, in this blog, I haven't promoted the full argument that Trump is a racist, despite having been utterly convinced of it for years. However, after watching the video, I can no longer refrain. This time, his comments are so clear they cannot be explained away as being "not racist" or "sarcasm" or "in jest" or "taken out of context." This time, there's no denying the meaning or significance of his words; his message is odious and deliberate, its threatening implications, unmistakable. His words should serve as a caution to anyone thinking of voting for him who does not support White supremacy or Nazism.
In no uncertain terms, Trump touted the same theory which Hitler employed to murder eleven million innocent people—disabled children and adults, the infirm, the elderly, the mentally ill, gay men and women, Jews, Romanis, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholics—to a crowd of mostly-White Americans of mostly-German heritage in a state with a growing number of Somali and Hmong immigrants.
After seeing Trump spew his vile words, to then knowingly back him is to choose to secure a White supremacist racist in the most powerful position in the world. His rhetoric goes hand in hand with his long record of using racist dog-whistles—"law and order," "save the suburbs," "go back to where you came from," "America first," "bad hombres"—and is particularly disturbing considering his tacit and overt support of White supremacists and far-right terrorist militias. As cynical as it might sound, it's not a stretch to imagine that his racehorse theory serves as grounds for his administration's promotion of herd immunity, in light of the well-documented evidence that Blacks, Indigenous people and Latinos are two to six times as likely to die from Covid-19 as Whites, depending upon age.
I can anticipate a response to my assertion from some Trump supporters. They'll say they're voting for him because they are pro-life and they are under the impression that he is too. But a pro-life claim rings hollow if one supports a man who espouses such a nakedly racist and dangerous theory used to justify the genocide of countrymen, women and children. Furthermore, any pro-life claim is meaningless if one does not also support social programs that sustain life beyond birth for those in need, such as healthcare, housing aide, food aide, family leave, childcare, pre-K, a decent education, and an interest in protecting the lives and livelihoods of immigrants, refugees and their children.
So, before going to the polls, if you have not voted already, ask yourself what kind of America you want to wake up to every morning.
|Edward Muybridge, Horse Galloping, 1878|