Democrats Refuse to Call Trump’s Shithole Statement “Racist”
In specific reference to immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador, but in general reference to black and brown immigrants from all nations, 45 was quoted last night as saying, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
And predictably, social, and mainstream media sources have exploded in response. Noticeably absent from this nationwide outcry, though, are the ranking members of the Democratic Party.
As this article is being written, Senate and House Democrats still have not released a statement condemning Trump’s racism. Sanders is inexplicably still tweeting about Walmart. Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren have said nothing. Schumer called it “shameful.” Pelosi called it “sad.” Gillibrand called it “unacceptable,” and Booker and Harris — or token Senatorial POC figureheads — declared solidarity with the targeted nations, but refused to admonish Donald Trump.
Not one of them used the term “racist.”
The Hispanic and Black Caucuses also inexplicably refused to take a stand against Trump’s blatant racism, opting for weaker rebuttals. The statement released by the Hispanic Caucus, for example, called for a rejection of the statement and continued efforts towards bipartisanship — with white nationalists. Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus made a joke about Making America White Again, but also failed to call out and admonish Trump’s racism.
It was the statement from Civil Rights icon and US Representative Elijah Cummings, though, that was perhaps the most unsettling. In response to Trump’s comments he tweeted:
“I condemn this unforgivable statement and this demeaning of the office of the Presidency. I will always fight for the vulnerable among us and against bigotry in all its forms.”
It’s the work “bigotry” that stands out.
There is a difference between bigotry and racism. Bigotry is interpersonal. Anyone can be a bigot. Racism is structural. It is embedded into every aspect of our political, economic and social foundations and frameworks. In the context of white supremacy, racism is white. And Elijah Cummings is very clear on the difference between the two.
Donald Trump is the figurehead of a white nationalist network that has boasted individuals such as Seb Gorka, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and Kris Kobach. His policies are coming directly from the Federation on American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a known hate group. Trump Pardoned Joe Arpaio, sent ICE agents after children in hospitals, and has called for the deportation of hundreds of thousands of our black and brown neighbors. He wants to build a wall to keep brown people out and more prisons to put black people in. Donald Trump and the Republican Party openly supported white supremacist rallies, have called neo-Nazis “fine people,” and have directly targeted every nonwhite community in the United States through attacks on policies, programs, and public disparagement.
As he is the President of the United States, and not just some guy next door, his actions and statements are racist. Bigotry is a lesser social crime. And Elijah Cummings knows this.
So why did he choose the word “bigotry”? Why would Pelosi and Schumer choose “sad” and “shameful”? Why would Booker and Harris refuse to direct any words towards 45 at all? Why is the Democratic Party refusing to take a strong and direct stand against the racism coming out of the Trump Administration and the GOP?
Knowing that politicians, especially members of Congress, are beholden to their party leaders and funders more than they are their constituents, a more appropriate question might be: Who is ordering members of Congress NOT to use the term “racism”?
Is it their funders? Is it their strategists? Is it party leaders? Who is telling the Democratic Party to stand down when Trumps attacks people of color?
And whomever it is, the better question is: WHY?
2017 marked some of the most blatantly racist, Confederate and Naziesque attacks on people of color in the United States in modern history. The Democratic party has rejected working with communities of color and the organizations that fight racism and white supremacy in favor of courting white middle-class voters and organizations since Trump took office.
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still without power and water. ICE raids are going uncountered. The Muslim Ban is back in effect. Tens of millions of black and brown voters are still being denied the right to vote. Tribal lands are being stolen. Klansmen are marching in the streets. Nazis are speaking on behalf of the nation. And the Democratic party can’t even say the word “racism.”
The Democratic party has stood silent against the blatant white nationalism coming out of the White House for too long. They have continually sought bipartisanship with neo-Confederates and Nazis instead of seeking solidarity with people of color as we fight for our lives against them. The Democrats have continued to use us as bargaining chips, rhetorical talking points, and last-minute voting blocs rather than stand up for their largest and most loyal constituent groups against the GOP.
Their refusal to take a stand against Trump’s most recent racist comments cannot go unchallenged.
This needs to be a turning point for Democrats as voters and as a party. If our leaders can’t say the word “racism,” then they can’t fight it. If they can’t fight racism, they are worthless in a national battle against a network of politically shrewd white supremacists. If they are worthless in battle against white supremacists, they are worthless in battle against Trump and the GOP.
And over the past year, the white led Democratic party has done nothing if not prove that they are worthless.
The Democrats are depending on black and brown voters to hand them Senate seats in 2018, while blatantly refusing to defend us from the GOP and its attacks on our communities. We can’t afford another term of white Democratic leadership. We can’t afford Senators that use us as bargaining chips for the white middle class. We can’t afford to give our votes to people that refuse to say the word “racist” let alone dig in and do the work necessary to stop racism.
This is a moment for all people of color to stand together and demand that the Democrats, in unity, acknowledge that the President is a racist. It is time that they collectively refuse to seek bipartisanship with neo-Confederates and Nazis. It is time that the party as a whole begins actively fighting the GOP and the Trump administration. And if the white leadership in the party refuses to do that, it is time for them to go.
To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/