“When we use the word “racism” to describe Trump’s tweets about Baltimore, Elijah Cummings, or the so-called “Squad,” we devalue the meaning of the word ‘racism.'”
I have heard argument over and over again from my conservative friends. Those who say things like this usually define “racism” as an individual act. They fail to understand that racism is systemic–deeply rooted in the history of the American republic.
Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian, Wheaton College graduate, former George W. Bush speechwriter, and Washington Post columnist, understands this kind of systemic racism:
Like, I suspect, many others, I am finding it hard to look at resurgent racism as just one in a series of presidential offenses or another in a series of Republican errors. Racism is not just another wrong. The Antietam battlefield is not just another plot of ground. The Edmund Pettus Bridge is not just another bridge. The balcony outside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel is not just another balcony. As U.S. history hallows some causes, it magnifies some crimes.
What does all this mean politically? It means that Trump’s divisiveness is getting worse, not better. He makes racist comments, appeals to racist sentiments and inflames racist passions. The rationalization that he is not, deep down in his heart, really a racist is meaningless. Trump’s continued offenses mean that a large portion of his political base is energized by racist tropes and the language of white grievance. And it means — whatever their intent — that those who play down, or excuse, or try to walk past these offenses are enablers.
Some political choices are not just stupid or crude. They represent the return of our country’s cruelest, most dangerous passion. Such racism indicts Trump. Treating racism as a typical or minor matter indicts us.
Read his entire column here.