Trump’s far-right sympathies can’t be excused as lip service.
Laying blame on counter protesters at Charlottesville and pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio marks the Donald Trump presidency as not just complicit in institutionalized and blatant racism, but also supportive of it.
On Friday Aug. 26, President Trump followed through on his promise to pardon Arpaio, as he alluded to during a Phoenix, AZ rally. Arpaio, the former Maricopa county Arizona sheriff, was found guilty of criminal contempt of court in July due to refusing to end policies that profiled Latinos. Arpaio’s hostile policies didn’t stop at encouraging his officers to indiscriminately pull over Latinos; it also extended to his treatment of undocumented immigrants.
Undocumented immigrants convicted of minor crimes were held in tent cities by Arpaio’s deputies.
“I already have a concentration camp, it’s called tent city,” Arpaio explained in a speech at his local Italian American Club.
Housing inmates in mercily hot and poorly insulated tents, after a day of chain gang labor while wearing Arpaio’s mandated pink undergarments, perfectly exemplifies cruel and unusual punishment.
The pardon screams of a Republican White House that doesn’t just hold the sentiment that we should crack down on immigration for economic reasons; rather, it paints Trump as a man who supports the unfair and hostile treatment of immigrants, should they be undocumented or legal immigrants unfortunate enough to be hounded by Arpaio’s goonish police officers.
Further illustrating his troubling relationship with racism, Trump’s comments in the wake of the militant-turned-violent white supremacists protest in Charlottesville reveal an unwillingness to deny support from the extreme-right.
The basic timeline for the president’s series of blunders in response to the violence breaks down into the following: placing the blame on both white supremacists and counter protesters, half-heartedly condemning racism and violence, and then walking that back to blaming white supremacists and counter protesters equally.
This shows that President Trump is either content with the support of white nationalists or is desperate enough for support that he won’t completely distance himself from these cartoonishly racist and xenophobic fringes of the right.
Trump’s campaign made many promises to those fringes, one of those was a wall stretching across our southern border. He also swore that he would somehow strong-arm Mexico into footing the bill. Unsurprisingly, to date they have refused to pay for this steel and concrete security blanket.
That is yet to deter the president from his lofty promise, while Mexico’s president has consistently denied the possibility. He’s turned to holding congress hostage with the threat of a government shutdown if they don’t kowtow to his demands for funding the wall. The president isn’t only acting hostilely to our country’s closest neighbor; he’s now threatening his own congress for being unwilling to turn a nation founded by immigrants into a nation prejudiced against immigrants.
Trump may not truly be racist or xenophobic, but he is a desperate authoritarian sending a clear message that persecuting minorities, white nationalism and strong-arming your way to victory are all acceptable.
The man proposes a dangerous standard for how our country’s representatives should enforce law, address the public and make policy. Are we as a country accepting of that?
During President Trump’s first months in office, I tried to be a level-headed liberal. I wanted to see the new administration as just another Republican White House, one that would possibly be marred by dog whistling the far-right, but never quite acting on it.
I did my damnedest to hope his campaign promises of building a wall, the immigration ban and all the other hallmarks of xenophobia were just paying lip service to a fearful base with no actual power. Time and time again this hope has been dashed away.
For the sake of my fellow Americans, I hope that Trump’s true colors aren’t those of the majority of his supporters. I hope a sizable portion of American voters voted for a man they didn’t actually believe in.