By Casey Lartigue Jr.
On August 13, 2008, the round-table discussion on National Public Radio’s “News and Notes” was “White Supremacists Voting For Obama?”. Fast forwarding eight years, Donald Trump, an alleged racist, is replacing Obama in the White House as the “poster boy” for racists. That same year, David Duke (a Republican white nationalist) even suggested that Barack Obama, as president would be “a visual aid” and “indisputable proof” that whites had lost control of the United States.
Everyone has been called racist
“White hate groups” have lost relevance, but they know how to market themselves to a media focused on conflict and crazies. It is worth asking in the context of the 2016 election: Did white supremacists recruit well during the Obama years?
It is now an American ritual to charge presidential candidates with racism.
It is now an American ritual to charge presidential candidates with racism. Republican candidates have been accused of racism repeatedly in the near past. In 2012, Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden accused Mitt Romney of putting black people, “back in chains.” In 2000, George W. Bush was allegedly tied to the dragging death of a black man in Texas. As far back as 1996, Bob Dole was accused of providing “aid and comfort” to racists with his tough talk.
Even the then Democratic Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, could not escape the racial accusations. He had to apologize for not opposing use of the Confederate flag (often associated with racism and white supremacy).
Trump and racism
Critics who see racism spelled in their morning cereal are likely to see racism even in sensible things Trump does. For instance, he has nominated a school choice advocate, Betsy Devos, as his secretary of education. Unsurprisingly, the Black Alliance for Educational Options immediately hailed her nomination. Black high school graduates perform in reading and math at the level of white and Asian middle school children. However they have much higher dropout rates and attend dangerous public schools. You may disagree with charters and vouchers, but is increasing educational choices for children in adverse situations the work of an undercover white supremacist?
Trump’s way forward
I predicted Trump would defeat Clinton and that he will be an adequate president. I only hope he will come to his senses with some of his proposed policies. Further, his harsh campaign language may have only been his bargaining tactic with international leaders. As a businessman who has negotiated incredible deals over the past four decades, is he really for cutting off trade and other business deals? The rioters and strategists trying to block Trump’s inauguration will soon realize that he did not destroy the U.S. or the world.
By then, they will be accusing another candidate of being racist, and, quoting white supremacists, trying to make themselves look relevant.
Casey Lartigue Jr. is the co-founder of Teach North Korean Refugees. In South Korea, he is also the director for international relations for the newly established Freedom Factory Co. Ltd., the international adviser to the Mulmangcho School (for adolescent North Korean refugees) in Yeoju, South Korea, and a columnist with the Korea Times.
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