Juan Williams: Trump’s toxic race card

Last week, Joe Biden broke new ground in presidential debates by openly saying President Trump is a “racist.”

The next day, Biden’s campaign co-chair, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), told CNN that Trump is willing “play the race card, because he’s a racist.”

Now take a look at what has happened since Biden called out Trump at the debate.

Do you see a pattern of racism?

{mosads}First, it was revealed last week that Trump administration officials are being told to speak up for a 17-year-old Trump supporter charged with killing two people. The teen allegedly crossed state lines with a gun to oppose people protesting about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wis.

Department of Homeland Security officials are urged to say in defense of Kyle Rittenhouse that he “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners,” NBC News reported. Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree murder.

Second, the National Park Service suspended hundreds of diversity training programs intended to help federal workers end sexual harassment, bias against disabled people and racial discrimination. The Department of Veterans Affairs similarly canceled a racial diversity training program.

Why?

According to a September memo from the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, Trump has directed him to stop federal agencies from funding training on the impact of white privilege because such teaching is “divisive, un-American propaganda.”

After the memo became public, Trump tweeted: “Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!”

When Trump’s demand to end the training sessions was raised as a topic at the debate, Biden responded by saying explicitly: “He’s racist.”

And there’s more to this pattern of Trump’s racist actions since the debate.

Here’s a particularly sad example.

Only 15,000 refugees will be allowed into the U.S. next year, the lowest number since the 1980 Refugee Act took effect.

“This absurdly low number is based on nothing more than xenophobic political pandering, and it’s no surprise that this all-time low comes during an election year,” the head of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, told The Washington Post.

Then Trump told a rally of his fans in Minnesota that Biden would “inundate your state with a historic flood of refugees.”

He whipped up the crowd by saying that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a naturalized American born in Somalia, wants to tell “us how to run our country — can you believe it?”

In response, Trump’s fans roared: “Lock her up!”

{mossecondads}Last year, Trump said Omar and the three other nonwhite Democratic congresswomen known as “the squad” should “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came” — even though they are all American citizens, have all sworn allegiance to the Constitution and, with the exception of Omar, are all American-born.

When Trump was criticized for those comments last year he said he does not have “a racist bone in my body.”

But the squad’s most famous member, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), shot back on Twitter that Trump may not have racist bones, but “you have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest.”

Of course, since the debate, discussion about Trump’s racism has focused on his initial refusal to condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right group.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. … Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left,” Trump said, adding that violence and disorder “is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”

Trump’s blindness to the danger of violent white supremacists requires him to ignore the FBI.

At a September hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray said white supremacists make up the largest cohort of “the most lethal of all domestic extremists” since 2001.

White supremacist violence is “the most persistent and lethal threat when we talk about domestic violent extremists,” Chad Wolf, the acting Homeland Security director, told a Senate committee recently.

Beyond that, the president’s false equivalence about racially motivated violence is factually wrong, according to his own administration officials.

“When white supremacists act as terrorists, more people per incident are killed,” testified Trump’s own acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, at a Senate hearing in September.

The politics of Trump’s racial rhetoric is often interpreted as a strategy to keep a firm hold on his base, which includes racists.

For example, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer celebrated Trump’s call to “stand by” as a call to “get ready for war.”

That “war” is tied to Trump’s effort to question the validity of the election if he loses.

For well over a year, figures ranging from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have openly worried about the possibility that Trump will try to invalidate the election and refuse to leave office.

Using racial division to push the United States toward a violent breaking point is a strategy. As Trump’s former aide Kellyanne Conway said, Trump benefits politically when “violence reigns.”

After last week’s debate, his use of race to divide the country is a pattern that can’t be ignored. 

It is a clear and present danger. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2020 presidential election Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cedric Richmond Chad Wolf Christopher Wray Dog whistle Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Kellyanne Conway Michael Cohen Nancy Pelosi race relations Racism

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