“Today Trump cast himself as whites’ savior—noting that, unlike NFL owners, he’s not afraid of black NFL players,” Seth Abrmason wrote of Trump’s morning appearance on Fox News.
The headline and lede are taken directly from journalism and law professor Seth Abramson, and I’ll get to that in a minute. First, the facts.
President Donald Trump said on Fox News’s Fox & Friends that (note: mostly white) owners of National Football League teams are afraid of their (note: mostly black) players.
Claiming that he is friends with many NFL owners, Trump said, “They say, ‘we are in a situation where we have to do something.’ I think they’re afraid of their players, you want to know the truth. And I think it’s disgraceful.”
This is the Republican President’s newest racist hot take on players kneeling during the national anthem, a peaceful protest of the injustices black people face in our criminal justice system, including police brutality.
An NFL representative did not respond to a request for comment to Reuters reporter Doina Chiacu.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on whether the president was concerned his comments might inflame racial tensions.
Seth Abramson called Trump’s appearance not a dog whistle, but rather straight up a racist public rant. He offered suggestions for the headline and lede that I have used. Here’s the whole tweet storm:
Trump says the white owners of the NFL are “afraid” of its black players. That’s not “racist dog-whistling.” It’s a “racist public rant.”
2/ When you suggest that accomplished, politically astute black men engaged in peaceful protest are scary, you’re a racist and nothing more.
3/ Today’s headlines should read, “President Goes on Racist Rant on Fox News, Says Peacefully Protesting Black NFL Players Scare People.”
4/ The ledes should read: “Today Trump cast himself as whites’ savior—noting that, unlike NFL owners, he’s not afraid of black NFL players.”
5/ Fox News—trying to cover for Trump—*misreports* him as saying owners are afraid to “take action against” rather than “afraid of” players.
6/ “I think they’re afraid of their players” is what Trump *actually* said, Fox News. You can’t clean it up by misreporting it. It’s racist.
7/ America’s white supremacists aren’t unclear on Trump being a racist—they celebrate the fact he is—so why should the rest of us doubt it?
8/ Of course, we also have decades of Trump’s business, personal, and political history to work from in drawing this rather easy conclusion.
9/ A man who doesn’t want to be publicly acknowledged as an unrepentant racist doesn’t speak like this—so let’s just give him what he wants.
10/ If we’d just accept he’s a racist, we could better understand his willingness to let the “shipping industry” control PR relief for days.
The media should be calling Trump out on his racism; instead, media seems to be waiting for permission or admission from Trump before they call him out on his racism. The problem with this is racists are not known for their self-examination and personal responsibility.
People have tried to label Trump’s attacks on mostly black NFL players’ free speech hurt or revenge as a result of being rejected by the NFL when he wanted to own an NFL team, but this explanation ignores a fundamental psychological component of racism.
Racism, like most “isms”, follows the power over/under paradigm. The person engaging in it believes that if they can put others under themselves, it elevates them. So when a person who is insecure or needy like President Trump attacks a black person or a woman or a disabled person, it’s not a mistake.
Racists/sexists/abelists attack vulnerable people when they are down for a reason. It gives them a surge of relief, it feeds the sense of entitlement to what they see as their rightful place, it’s cowardly and it’s predictable. You see, it’s not a mistake that a man like Trump has attacked women, black people, Mexicans and a disabled reporter.
Trump’s racism announced itself when he led the racist birther charge against President Obama, a person so worthy of his job as president as to shame men like Trump. It announced itself again when he campaigned on the wall, attacking Mexicans and offering to pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up black protesters.
All Trump has is his white skin and being born to money, but in his mind, these things entitle him. He spent years as a conspiracy artist chasing a birth certificate that had already been produced and somehow found his way into the White House. A meritocracy this is not.
It’s not really helpful or accurate for media to keep pretending that Trump’s racism isn’t obvious; it is.
It’s not dog whistle racism. It’s straight up racism.
We don’t wait for the racist to tell us they are a racist. He walks like a racist, talks like a racist, has a history of racist acts and paints himself like a white hero to win the politics of resentment: He’s a racist.
If people don’t like these facts, they need to take them up with President Trump. He is the person stirring up racial animus because he can’t get love or approval any other way, and is a complete failure thus far as a president.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.