Anyone who was paying attention knew that Donald Trump is a racist, misogynistic narcissist. We knew that, unlike more seasoned politicians, he would move heaven and earth to “keep his promises.” One thing I’ve noticed over the course of my life time is politicians with the worst conceivable ideas will do their best to transform those ideas into policy.
So far, this administration and this congress is conforming to my observation. The one thing that is striking – Donald Trump is has an inordinate ability to dehumanize people and spread that dehumanization like a cancer. It’s not surprising, because Trump did tell us who he is before he announced his run for the presidency.
His racism was evident from the days of his racist rental policies, to his disgusting ad calling for the Central Park Five to be sentenced to death. He never apologized for that ad. He never admitted he was wrong – despite the finding that the Central Park Five were innocent. Trump built his political brand on birtherism. He, and to a lesser extent his third wife, Melania, promoted the racist fiction that our first Black president wasn’t really an America. Even when Trump “refuted” the lie that built his name, he tried to blame Hillary Clinton for his birtherism crusade.
When Trump announced his candidacy to a crowd of actors paid (below the industry standard) to play the role of Trump supporters, two things stood out. His unbridled contempt for immigrants, expressed in such blatantly ugly terms that only white supremacists could revel in it. The recognition that everything from his and Melania’s entrance to the arrogance and anger in his voice would pander to the same people. Trump is far from a genius at anything resembling policy or deal making. But he knows how to identify his target audience and how to go after it.
Most of Trump’s votes came from people who shared his racism, misogyny and his anti-intellectualism. These are the people who remain dedicated to Trump and his list of hates because its much easier to blame the existence of other people for one’s own failings and short comings. Throughout his campaign and thus far in his presidency, Trump continued to validate the idea that if you fail it’s always those darn immigrants, uppity people of color and arrogant, snippy women got in your way.
If you are a person in two or more of those categories, it’s pretty difficult to remain optimistic at a time that your personhood is demeaned by the president, not only in his words but in the policies he, his administration and his political party are implementing.
It’s impossible to believe that Donald Trump would be presidential for many reasons, ranging from the way he wears his wealth as if it was a character reference, to his twitter tantrums and his lack of willingness to accept basic truisms like Nazis are not “very fine people” and Joe Arpaio did not by any measure meet the criteria for a pardon.
One doesn’t need to be an intellectual to recognize that Nazism as an ideology is evil and that people who adhere to that ideology are evil. I say this because Nazism and its related ideologies are premised on a belief that one’s race determines whether or not they have a right to exist, or be recognized as human beings.
One doesn’t need to be a lawyer to understand the rule of law, to see the perversity of pardoning a man who described his tent cities in which many people died, as concentration camps. Let alone a man who doesn’t admit guilt for establishing those concentration camps and who doesn’t express remorse.
Until now, I’ve kept myself out of the stories I’ve written because the stories weren’t about me. But, under the current political circumstances, maintaining my privacy feels more like an act of cowardice, than anything else.
My mother was a Holocaust survivor. When I was a kid, we had “the talk” about the evil that made the Holocaust possible. She taught me how to recognize bigots and how to recognize propaganda. In a way it was a talk analogous to the one African-American parents have with their children on how to survive being stopped by a police officer.
It’s not the same, and I don’t mean to suggest that it is.
We remain in a country where black people are disproportionately poor, disproportionately jailed and disproportionately killed and abused by police. Even on these facts, it’s pretty obvious that racism is, as Demetrius Harris wrote, “ is sewn into the fabric of America, as American as apple pie and hot dogs”
It’s so part of the fabric, that it took Donald Trump’s unabashed racism, his repeated defense and excuses for white supremacists to force some people to open their eyes, to offer a symbolic condemnation of racism, before reverting to the slumber of the status quo.
Trump’s misogyny is as pervasive as his racism. The man who bragged about sexually assaulting woman was given a pass by his wife, Melania in a fluff interview with Anderson Cooper. And hey, if she can overlook it, then the rest of us should too.
It would be easier to say if not for Trump we wouldn’t have misogyny. The reality is misogyny joins racism in the fabric of America. We remain a country where the prospect of a woman leading a political party remains a novelty and aspiring to be president remains, for now, the impossible dream.
We still have leaders who actually believe, despite rape being the most under reported crime, we are unfair to rapists. This is the only crime where victims are assumed to be lying and where everything from their clothing, to their virtue are determining factors in deciding if they deserve justice. But in the Trump administration, alleged rapists are the only people who matter.
Trump and his base embrace each other as kindred spirits of racism and misogyny and remain convinced that part of white male privilege is to delegate responsibility for their failures and shortcomings to someone else.
There is nothing new, or innovative about Trump’s approach and his message. That’s the maddening thing about this obscenity of a presidency. We’ve seen it before – back when American recognized there are no such creatures as Nazis who are very fine people. We fought it before because we recognized it for what it is.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.