Spencer Means / Flickr The Carlottesville Terrorist...
Spencer Means / Flickr

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has won two Pulitzer Prizes for commentary, one shared with his wife Sheryl Wu Dunn.

His column for Sunday’s New York Times is titled Mr. Trump, Meet a Hero Whom You Maligned.

It begins by recounting the history of the grandfather of the current occupant of the Oval Office, that grandfather being the first of those from whom Trump is descended who entered the US.

The hero in the column is Emmanuel Mensah, the Ghanian immigrant and Army National GuardPrivate First Class who gave up his life to save others in a fire in the Bronx.

The column as a whole is worth reading.

I want to share one paragraph:

During the 2016 presidential campaign, I carefully reviewed Trump’s race-related history, including the 1,021 pages of legal documents from racial discrimination suits against him, and the evidence is devastating. We should be careful about tossing around the word “racist,” and any one incident can be misconstrued. But in Trump’s case, we have a consistent, 40-year pattern of insults and discrimination, and I don’t see what else we can call him but a racist.

The linked piece in the above block quote was offered on July 16, 2016.  It was then, and remains now, the single best piece documenting the clear evidence of the racism of Donald John Trump.  Let me also offer one paragraph from that:

Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.

To the evidence that Kristof offered then, well before the election, we can certainly add much more, from the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as Attorney General to Kris Kobach and his bogus voter integrity panel to the comments about Charlottesville and so much more. In fact, there was so much on the record that it is surprising that any sentient being can be surprised by the remark about “shithole countries.”

At the King ceremony at the White House, as Trump left, April Ryan shouted a question at him, “Are you a racist?”

As much as I respect April Ryan, I strongly disagree with the framing of that question.

It is not a question.

We should not be afraid of saying it like this, to his face:

“You are a racist.”

Donald John Trump is a bigot in many dimensions, including on religion and gender as well,

But first and foremost he is a racist.

We should call things by the right labels.

That includes people whose words and action over a lifetime make clear that bigoted remarks are not for them an aberration, but rather a clear indication of their beliefs, the “principles” by which they operate.

We have had racists and bigots as Presidents before, and not merely because some of them owned slaves.  Even the sainted Abraham Lincoln did not believe Blacks to be equal to Whites.

I am 71.  I lived through the era of the Civil Rights Movement, and in my own small way participated,in large part because of my Eastern European Jewish background I have a strong antipathy to bigotry on any level.  I thought our country had moved forward, but then saw the resurgence of racism in response to the election of Barack Obama, an election I celebrated, as did many others, as an indication of how far we had come.

I refuse to go backward.

So I applaud Nicholas Kristof, like me White, for properly labeling Donald John Trump as a racist.

And as we are in the weekend where we remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., allow me to remind people of words he wrote while incarcerated, later published in The Atlantic as “The Negro is Your Brother.” From the Letter From Birmingham Jail:

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

To those who remain silent, to those who rationalize, when you encounter racism and bigotry of any kind, do not remain silent.

Do not seek to rationalize what is racism and bigotry by attributing it to economic dislocation or anything else.

Call it by its right name — racism.

And, like Nicholas Kristof, properly attach the adjective so that the name is not said without it:

racist Donald Trump

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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