I love former President Barack Obama. I started loving him shortly after he walked offstage after making his now-historic 2004 Democratic National Convention speech. During his time as president, not only was Obama an example of class and excellence in office, but for many black men, he was also a role model for how to move in a complicated minefield of white supremacy.
But my love for Obama didn’t keep me from holding him accountable. He was the president, not my cousin. So when he was critical of black protesters, even dipping low to wade in the “thug” pond, I was critical of him. When he admitted to The Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates that African Americans were due reparations but there wasn’t a practical way to administer and sustain political efforts for them to happen, I was disheartened. For years I agreed with some of the old guard who were leery of his voting record when he initially ran for office.
No matter my fondness for the first black president, he was my president, and when his moves weren’t in alignment with my beliefs, or beliefs that I believed the office demanded, I had to call it what it was.
In President Donald Trump, white supremacists have not found a politician whom they hold accountable; they have an ally whom they protect and defend blindly as if he’s their dad.
I think that any right-minded person who is willing to look at this administration objectively would clearly describe this presidency, after less than two months in office, as “the Clampetts coming to Washington.” In less than two months, Trump sent troops into Yemen for no reason and has offended several heads of foreign states who called to congratulate him. He’s declared a full-on war against the press and has created one of the most divisive and combative administrations in recent history. He has given top appointments in his Cabinet to grossly unqualified friends. He’s spent damn near half his term on vacation and won’t even reveal his taxes.
And to top if all off, he’s an online bully who goads congressmen on Twitter. And all of this bizarro behavior by the commander in chief isn’t being challenged by his staunchest supporters because they adore him and literally look up to him as a father.
Trump can try all he wants to denounce the “alt-right,” but at this point he’s a Maury guest who just found out the woman he loves had a baby who isn’t his. He’s going to continue to raise the alt-right because they love him unconditionally.
“Trump is a white nationalist, so to speak; he is alt-right, whether he likes it or not,” said alt-right leader and white nationalist Richard Spencer in a recent interview on The David Pakman Show.
Although Trump may not have fathered the movement, they possess enough of his racist features and little hands, so no matter how many times he tries to distance himself from them, they are a part of him. He’s even moved their uncle Steve Bannon into his Cabinet. He also speaks their language and promotes their propaganda as actual journalism, and continues to feed them conspiracy theories from the highest office in the land.
Earlier this year I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about Super Bowl LI. The spine of the piece was that since Trump was outwardly rooting for the New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons had become black America’s team by default. The piece also pointed out that Tom Brady’s cozy relationship with Trump made Brady, by default, racist adjacent.
Trump supporters came for me on Twitter like babies wanting to know why I was calling their papa racist. I figured that pointing them to the thoroughly researched and well-reported New York Times deep dive into the 45-year history of Trump’s racist past would be enough to prove my point.
I won’t bore you with all the tweets I received, but I think the one below pretty much sums up the response I got from the alt-right:
This photo, in the eyes of Trump supporters, proves that he can’t be racist. See the kidlike logic here? A businessman wouldn’t pose for a photo with Don King and Jesse Jackson if he were a racist. It was baffling to me that an adult would feel that this was enough to clear a man of a history of racism. Trump supporters’ response to the Times article? You guessed it: “fake news.”
At his core, Trump has appealed to a common thread that dates all the way back to the beginning of American civilization: hate. As long as he continues to appeal to this underbelly of America, his supporters will continue to claim to hate even policies like Obamacare and public assistance that may be in their best interests because they, too, are fueled by hate. There are still large swaths of this country where black people don’t live, travel or dare be caught after the sun goes down, and white American haters will go to great lengths to protect their white sovereignty.
In Trump they have found the anti-Obama, a man motivated by hate who taps into the core values of American hatred and is willing to protect the constitutional right to hate. In two months the president has made indefensible moves of hatred toward Mexico, Muslims and the media. He has been caught spouting ignorant and unsubstantiated falsehoods ad nauseam, and his supporters find all of this justifiable. They will continue to battle for his flawed policies and word buffet of foolishness because they don’t want to admit that there dad is clearly overmatched and barely treading water in the deep end of health care that he even now admits is difficult to comprehend.
But at some point, when you Trump supporters grow up a bit, you’ll have to admit that the man you’ve loved and protected like a father is not who you’ve believed him to be. The man you saw as a unifier is really a divider. The man you wanted to believe loved your mother was really out here saying, “Grab ’em by the pussy.” The man who told you he would be there to pick you up after practice is never coming.
At some point you have to see the man for who he is and admit that he is hurting all of us—you included.