If you don’t mind, I’m going to address this letter to my Trump-loving Republican friends.
Dear Trump-loving Republican friends:
I know we’ve had our differences lately. And I write you feeling some anger about something that happened today. So let me preface this by saying I have your best interests at heart.
This is what your — our — president said today.
President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.
Lest we read the (barely) subtext of those remarks too deeply, let’s look at the pattern:
I know you hate being called racists.
I know you think that liberals get away with racism because they’re better at shouting about it. You’re not always wrong.
I know some of you think liberal complaints about conservative racism are unfair, a “chump’s game” designed for tactical advantage. You’re sometimes wrong about this, but again — not always.
I know that some of you will disagree with this, but: In an effort to find common ground, I’ve tried to restrain my own knee-jerk reactions. I try not to assume that disagreements regarding race makes anybody in the conversation a racist.
But folks: This president. The president you gave us.
If he’s not racist, he’s so cavalier about racism that he doesn’t care if he appears racist. The damage to our country’s values is done either way.
There’s no way around this: If you continue to support this president, it’s not mean or out-of-bounds for other observers to conclude that you’re ok supporting a racist.
And if you’re ok supporting a racist for the highest office in the land, well, it might not be entirely fair, but it’s probably to be expected that people are going to draw conclusions about your character as well.
Your reasons for supporting Trump may not be racist. Maybe you’re sick of an economy leaving you behind and are glad somebody broke out of the neoliberal consensus that dominated both major parties. Maybe you’re anti-abortion and wanted the conservative judges Trump promised to elect. Maybe there’s something else.
But at this point, whatever your reasons for supporting him, even if you don’t feel racist — well, you’re OK enough with his racism to let it slide.
It may not feel like a big deal. Maybe it seems like it doesn’t really affect you. It may not affect many people you know.
But it affects a lot of people, who rightfully fear their government is not in the business of protecting their rights. And it strikes to the heart of the values many of us believe are important to this country.
I myself will make no assumptions about whether you’re racist, or have that in your heart. But at this point: Trump has demonstrated who he is. If you support him anyway, well, that’s up to you. But your complaints about being called racist — as though it’s worse than being racist — are going to seem ever more hollow going forward.
I hope you can find a conservative who can represent you without the racism. Really. There’s plenty of other stuff we can argue about. This doesn’t have to be it.
I wish you well.