The erstwhile president of the United States of America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments. Not bad for one Twitter storm.
He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights. The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American. Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.
But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.) He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville. And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)
He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on. His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.
Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.