Unconvinced on Trump’s Traditional Racism

I think that Scott Alexander pretty much nails the issue of Trump’s supposed white supremacy here.  A few excerpts that I agree with:

And if you believe he’s lying, fine. Yet I notice that people accusing Trump of racism use the word “openly” like a tic. He’s never just “racist” or “white supremacist”. He’s always “openly racist” and “openly white supremacist”. Trump is openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist. Trump is running on pure white supremacy, has thrown off the last pretense that his campaign is not about bigotry, has the slogan Make American Openly White Supremacist Again, is an openly white supremacist nominee, etc, etc, etc. And I’ve seen a few dozen articles like this where people say that “the bright side of a Trump victory is that finally America admitted its racism out in the open so nobody can pretend it’s not there anymore.”


1. Is Trump getting a lot of his support from white supremacist organizations?

No, because there are not enough organized white supremacists to make up “a lot” of anyone’s support.


Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes. In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again.

Trump is clearly not “openly white supremacist” in the way that tons of people were 50 years ago and a very small minority of people still are.

I would believe that Trump is notably “more racist than most 70 year old white guys” in a newfangled 21st Century where racism means being more willing than is rational to believe that Arabs are all one step from being terrorists or Chinese people have an insidious plan to steal America’s economy or Mexicans all long to come to the United States, immediately stop working, start having babies, and just consume social services.

And the above beliefs are wrong and bad and stupid.  But they aren’t dressing up in white sheets and lynching black people, and conflating them is wrong.  When you try to make it look like Trump is a classic early-mid 20th Century white nationalist, you undermine your ability to address the tangle of anxieties that lots of people clearly have about the modern world.


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