I spent the evening of Martin Luther King Day watching the movie Selma on television. The story, though already familiar to me, was still moving, particularly as I reflected on where we stand now as a nation, on who our President is now, on the way the issue of racism is still with us and still divides us. MLK had a dream, and while we can certainly say we have made some progress toward achieving it, we aren’t anywhere near there and we seem to be losing ground now.
Slavery is said to be America’s original sin, and we have never managed to disentangle ourselves from it. It tainted our national soul then, and the widespread racism that followed after it still taints our soul today. As a Christian, I believe both that we are all sinners and that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. However, for a sin to be forgiven it must be confessed and forgiveness needs to be asked for.
I have been saying loudly and clearly since the day he announced his candidacy that Donald J. Trump is a racist. In fact, racism and the appeal to it was perhaps the most defining characteristic of his campaign, launched with a blatantly racist attack on Mexican immigrants. During the campaign he re-tweeted white supremacist messages and images many times, and made many offensive racially charged remarks to the almost all-white crowds drawn to him. In the end, he was elected almost entirely with the support of white people, and white people only.
Trump’s history as a private citizen also made his racism absolutely clear to anyone not blinded by tribalism and/or bigotry of their own. His bloodthirsty advocacy against the wrongly accused Central Park Five was blatantly and obviously racist. His rise to political prominence on the back of the blatantly and obviously racist “birther” campaign is another prime example. These are backed by numerous accounts of racist comments and actions by him over many years, by numerous well-placed sources.
Trump’s record since taking office has been equally clear. He appointed an apologist for white supremacists to be his senior political adviser. He appointed a man considered too racist by both Democrats and Republicans to be appointed as a federal judge thirty years ago to head the Justice Department, a man who quickly began dismantling reforms made to address endemic racism in our justice system and weakening the Department’s vital oversight of civil rights legislation. His appointments overall were whiter (and more male) than any other recent president. He continued to say and tweet racially offensive things over and over again.
Trump won’t stop. He won’t change. He is a racist. He has been a racist for many years. He will likely die a racist.
Just this last week, in a profane outburst in a meeting with Senators that had originally been designed to craft a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform that would keep the government open, Trump revealed his racism yet again s he torpedoed the agreement. He clearly and unequivocally stated his desire for less immigration from nations in Africa and more from European nations. His words and their intent were confirmed by both a Democratic and Republic senator who attended. Others, including Trump himself, two other Republican senators from the anti-immigrant lunatic fringe of the party and the Secretary of Homeland Security, have, as usual, tried desperately to obscure and deny what he said, dishonoring themselves in that act. But nobody really believes them.
Trump has, once again, openly and blatantly revealed his racism for all the world to see. He stated clearly that he wants an America that is whiter, and that he thinks immigrants from non-European countries are inferior. That is textbook racism.
So, it’s time.
Time for all Republicans and conservatives of good conscience who voted for Trump to stand up. Time for them to acknowledge their sin and ask forgiveness. Time for them to make amends and change their behavior. Time for them to do a bit of soul-searching and examine their own beliefs about race, and the beliefs and actions of the political party they support. Time for them to decide if they will continue to support a racist. It’s time and past time.
There are many good and honorable people who voted for Donald Trump. There are many good and honorable people who have continued to generally support Donald Trump, even as they are made more and more uncomfortable by many of the things he has said and done. As a Christian, I know that good and honorable people do bad and stupid things, things that they come to regret, all the time. If they didn’t there would be no need for grace.
That support needs to end. It’s time and past time.
We, as a country, can no longer tolerate and indulge in the interminable and convoluted excuses for his racism. Excuses that he was misunderstood. Excuses that it isn’t really racism (as if his almost all-white supporters have any right at all to unilaterally determine what racism is and isn’t). Excuses that he was misquoted.
It is also time and past time to acknowledge that all of the many reasons reasonable people voted for Trump, reasons that seemed at the time and may still seem important to them, are not sufficient to justify supporting an open racist in the White House.
We have reached a decision point, in which we decide if we can save our soul as a nation or not. In which those who have supported him have to decide if their support is worth risking their individual souls.
It’s time to stand up for what is right and condemn the obvious evil that stands in front of us.
It’s time and past time.