Trump's blatant racism: A Christmas surprise that's no surprise

Haitians have AIDS; Nigerians should return to their "huts," says the president. Will Republicans ever reject him?

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published December 26, 2017 5:00AM (EST)

 (Getty/Dominick Reuter)
(Getty/Dominick Reuter)

In an essay here last week, I argued that Donald Trump views nonwhite immigrants and Muslims as human garbage. As such, Trump, his administration and the Republican Party are engaging in a campaign of "soft" ethnic cleansing directed against those groups. The usual suspects in the right-wing media responded with outrage that I would make such a basic and obvious observation about their hero and idol's bigotry and racism.

On cue, Donald Trump has provided further proof of his white supremacist views through his words, deeds and actions.

In a carefully researched story published over the Christmas weekend, The New York Times reported that Trump was angered because "too many" immigrants and other visitors were being allowed entry to the United States. At a meeting in the Oval Office last June, Trump reportedly began to read aloud from a list of approved immigrant visas supplied to him by domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller:

[So] many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said. . . .

More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.

Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.

Later in the article, the Times reporters offer this context:

Seizing on immigration as the cause of countless social and economic problems, Mr. Trump entered office with an agenda of symbolic but incompletely thought-out goals, the product not of rigorous policy debate but of emotionally charged personal interactions and an instinct for tapping into the nativist views of white working-class Americans.

Of course, Trump's claims — as he is a master liar and purveyor of tired racist stereotypes -- are not true. All Haitian immigrants do not have AIDS. Moreover, Haiti has made remarkable progress in reducing its HIV rate. Nigeria is one of the richest countries in Africa. In addition, Nigerian immigrants to America are disproportionately represented in the professional classes. According to recent reports, they are also the most highly educated group of people in the United States. In certain parts of the United States, Nigerians, as well as other immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, earn higher average incomes than native-born citizens.

It is no coincidence that Donald Trump recently replaced the official motto of the United States, "E Pluribus Unum," on the presidential coin, with his personal campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

That slogan has always been both a threat and a promise. By contrast, the national slogan -- the Latin for "out of many, one" -- is a cosmopolitan and democratic ideal that is not easily reconciled with the goals of white supremacy.

Trump's "Make America Great Again" was a signal that he would do everything in his power to protect, enforce and expand white power. Whiteness as an idea and practice is inseparable from violence towards and oppression of nonwhites. White Americans rallied to Trump's flag because they understood his intent. Black and brown people understood Trump's intent as well. This is why they -- and too few white voters -- tried to sound the alarm about Trump and his fascist racial authoritarian movement's threat to democracy.

Unfortunately, tens of millions of white voters chose the allure of Trump racism and bigotry over civic responsibility, true patriotism and democracy.

Trump's alleged comments about Haitians and Nigerians (by which he surely means "Africans" as a group) are but one more turd on what appears to be an infinite pile of waste that Donald Trump is leaving in the White House on a near daily basis.

Trump has again shown the world that he is an ignoramus, a racist and a petit-fascist authoritarian. The Republican Party and their voters embrace those values. Why? Because there are no good people who support Donald Trump.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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