I have come to the sobering conclusion that President Donald Trump is a racist.
This isn’t something that I can or would say lightly because as a preteen I used to make such accusations without provocation. Since then I call no one a racist until he or she does or says something that makes it clear.
That point came for me two weeks ago during the fracas in Charlottesville, Va., in which sympathizers of the “alternative right,” including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, marched onto the campus of the University of Virginia — from what I’ve heard, for the third time this summer — and one counter-protester ended up dead when one of the white nationalists plowed his car into a crowd.
Note: The "alt-right" marchers were all Trump supporters, and when the news about the carnage reached his ears Trump actually complained, falsely, about an analogous “alt-left” and that were “good people on both sides.” No, Mr. President, white supremacists are never good at any time, certainly not when mobilized. Even notorious white nationalist David Duke, formerly of the KKK and American Nazi Party, was pleased with him for not coming out strong against them.
I contrast this with Ronald Reagan’s rejection of a presidential endorsement from Bill Wilkinson, a Klan leader in Georgia who said in 1980 that “the Republican platform could have been written by a Klansman.” In those days a lot of people called Reagan a racist for a whole host of reasons, but I refused to do so. And other conservative Republicans have simply refused to go in that direction, whether due to their own convictions or because it wasn’t “politically correct” (read: It was uncouth).
But also given Trump’s overt persecution of Muslims and Latinos, with the travel ban and threat to build a wall with Mexico respectively, not to mention his contempt for former president Barack Obama, it’s now impossible for me to believe that he’s not being driven by authentic racial hatred or, at the very least, that of others.
What’s worse, this divisiveness has seeped into the evangelical church, over 80 percent of whose white adherents voted for Trump. It’s become an issue in even my church, which is quite racially diverse and where folks of all colors have for decades broken bread together, a sign of real intimacy and unity; I had hoped and thought that the Trump phenomenon wouldn’t affect it as much as it has, but I’m now hearing complaints on social media. And furthermore, much of Trump’s “evangelical advisory committee” has been completely silent, apparently too tied to the status quo to make prophetic statements and challenge him.
Fortunately, some pastors have spoken out, with one white pastor in Modesto, Calif. ranting about “stupid white people” supporting white supremacy, saying correctly that “God is not in this.” (He said in retrospect that he should have chosen a different word other than “stupid.”)
I told a friend years ago that one thing we needed to do to spark spiritual revival was to “deal with our racism.” Unfortunately, it turns out that I wasn’t using hyperbole, either, so we’ll need to take our lumps and deal with the issue.
And since such leadership will not becoming from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., we have to do it. God help us if we drop the ball.