Opinion

Democrats cross the racial Rubicon with Trump

Democratic congresswomen condemn Trump’s racist comments

The four Democratic congresswomen of color attacked by President Donald Trump responded on July 15, 2019 at a joint news conference. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan called for Trump's impeachment.
Up Next
The four Democratic congresswomen of color attacked by President Donald Trump responded on July 15, 2019 at a joint news conference. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan called for Trump's impeachment.

Democrats and top mainstream news outlets crossed a racial Rubicon when they began labeling President Trump a white supremacist directly responsible for the recent mass shootings.

Sure, they’ve called Republicans racists for decades. It has been their mantra in North Carolina since 2010, when Tar Heels elected the first GOP legislature in more than a century. Because we are long past the days when anyone could or would want to pass racist legislation, they cynically pretend that opposition to Medicaid expansion or reducing unemployment benefits – which, of course, affects many whites – is racially motivated. Next time someone tells you racial resentment drives GOP support among whites, ask them to name the specific policies they have in mind. Remind them, as well, that many of the most troubled minority communities are run and policed by Democrats.

Although racism is the Democrat’s go-to accusation, our society has largely normalized that false and incendiary charge. It was widely accepted as a tactic used by progressives to silence those who oppose their tax and spend policies.

That’s why most Democrats could accuse Republicans of being racist and still break bread with them. Their damning moral condemnation was leavened by the understanding that politics ain’t bean bag.

The recent fusillade of accusations against the president ups the ante. White supremacy, commonly understood as an Aryan nation ideology embraced by Klansmen and neo-Nazis, is the nuclear race card.

Unlike racism – which many left-wing scholars say is often implicit, unintentional, systemic – white supremacy is purposeful hate. By labeling Trump a white supremacist, Democrats are stipulating that the president and anyone who supports him is a modern incarnation of Nathan Bedford Forrest. In fact, some opinion writers have said just that on these pages, claiming North Carolina’s GOP wants to revive Jim Crow and the old Confederacy.

I don’t know how many rank and file Democrats embrace this absurdity that dismisses the vast strides our country has made regarding race and gender while welcoming record numbers of immigrants.

Or how many of them, who have correctly noted that almost no American Muslims are terrorists, actually believe that violent white supremacy is an urgent problem in America.

What I do know is that none of them has stood up against their party’s incendiary narrative. In contrast to the strict conformity demanded by Democrats, most Republicans openly criticize Trump and cringe at his inflammatory language.

Democrats think there is no line they can’t cross because there’s never be any pushback from their supporters or the media. When you can falsely accuse the president of treason for three years with impunity, you can do anything.

When the media amplifies your lie that Trump’s remarks about “fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville protests – ignoring his blanket statement, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally” – you can say anything.

When your divisive language is portrayed as truth-telling and your Manichean world view is cast as enlightened community-building you are free to use any means necessary.

When will someone show the courage to say, “enough.”

I’m not holding my breath. Which raises the question: If the Democrats win in 2020, how can they lead a nation, in which, they say, nearly half the people embrace repulsive views? I’m afraid there’s no going back from that.

Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@jpederzane.com.
  Comments