Trumpism: A New Brand of American Racism
If Trump is good at anything, it’s building a brand. What Trump has done over the last year or so has been building a different kind of brand you might call: Trumpism.
Trumpism is a new brand of American racism. It is a new iteration of the same old American racism that is as dangerous as it is disturbing. What Trump has done to build this brand is appeal to the racism laying dormant (and not so dormant) in the underbelly of America that political correctness held at bay.
Of course, racism isn’t new in the American context or political arena, but this particular brand of it is unique in a supposedly “post-racial society.” Obama’s presidency, far from signaling the end of racism in America, was simply a hibernation where resentful whites had to hold their tongues for almost 8 years for fear of being pegged a racist.
By “telling it like it is” and stomping all over political correctness, Trump became the hero to millions who finally felt released to come out of the oppressive closet (persecution?) of political correctness. That’s why the worse Trump got, the more beloved he became in their eyes.
Once freed from the social fear of retribution from “progressive elite’s” for saying the wrong thing, Trumpists were empowered and emboldened to bring to light what was always brewing under the surface.
But by inciting and igniting the racial imagination and fears of disenfranchised, angry, and resentful whites, Trump has unleashed a pandora’s box of suppressed emotions and has incidentally constructed a new brand of American racism that will likely live on for many years whether or not Trump is elected (Trumpists may be even more emboldened if he loses).
For anti-racist and anti-oppressive activists and educators, Trump is proof of what they knew was always there. Trump is a mirror for America to see what we try so hard to hide. Trumpism is just the latest installment of racism in America, but this new brand might possibly be the most potent.
Trumpism is an amalgamation of racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, islamophobia, militarism, and ableism all strung together for Trump’s self-serving political aspirations. Trumpism is the manifestation of white narcissistic racial political imagination. Trumpism is a knee-jerk reaction or the polar opposite of anti-racist and anti-oppressive liberal social justice education. Trumpism is an inter-sectional racism, that brings together the worst of all society's "isms" to create an entirely hazardous blend.
While the ingredients aren’t new, the combination of the ingredients into one political packaging is uniquely Trump. Perhaps Trump has merely gotten caught up in the political theater of the Republican primary. Perhaps he is just amplifying what he knows Republicans want to hear. Whether Trump actually believes any of the things he says or he is simply manipulating his Trumpist following is almost beside the point.
Trumpism is here. It’s a brand and it’s what Trump is selling to the masses. And they are buying it. And so is the media. Trumpism is now a global phenomenon (product?) which is being spread all over the world. The consequences of this for future generations can only be known in time.
Trumpism is dangerous because it is not simply the ranting of a small handed attention seeking business man, his statements are shaping public opinion and potentially public policy should Trump be elected.
To understand Trumpism you have to read the label and see how the parts come together to form one scary whole:
Racism: (“the blacks love me,” “look at my African American over there,” this one was new to me: “hiding Black employees," despite African Americans being displayed/exploited on the RNC stage black people are just not into him)
Sexism: Trump's offensive comments to Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly, Trumps offensive comments to Rosie O'Donnell, Trump's offensive comments to Carly Fiorina, Trump's offensive comments about women who seek abortions, you get the picture.
Xenophobia: Trump's demonizing remarks of immigrants and his insistence that gangs in the city are "all illegal immigrants" despite the evidence.
Islamaphobia: Trump's call to ban all Muslims, his generalizing of Muslims as terrorists, and his politicizing of the Orlando terrorist act to support his political platform.
Not to mention Trump's egging on of violence at his rallies, his lack of diplomacy in foreign policy (ex., China, NATO), and his current push for “restoring law and order” which is reminiscent of racial rhetoric from the past.
Inciting white fear goes back to the days of slavery when wealthy whites pitted poor whites against poor blacks to stay on top of the racial hierarchy and squash possible solidarity and revolt among the lower classes. The subtle use of race for political purposes has been elicited by other presidents too: Nixon's Southern strategy, Reagan's “War on Drugs” and “welfare queen,” Bush Senior's “Willie Horton ads”, and Clinton's “tough on crime” policies.
But Trumpism is even bolder. Whereas previous political candidates masked their deception, Trumpism uses blatant racialized language almost as a badge of honor.
Trumpism has become so disturbing that even Holocaust survivors have spoken out grim warnings about it, including Anne Frank’s stepsister who said Trump is “acting like another Hitler.” Meanwhile, Elie Wiesel’s passing serves as another solemn reminder to us to stay diligent and not be silent in moments like this.
But instead of stepping up and being a prophetic conscience, evangelical leaders cheerfully endorse Trump and encourage their congregations to do the same. This mixing of Christian faith and Trumpism should be disturbing to even conservative Christians. It may take generations to undo the damage done to American Christianity by these supposed Christian leaders odd political syncretism.
In any event, Trumpism seems to be an enduring brand. Trumpism rhetoric has been given a national platform during the Republican National Convention and no doubt will continue to be given airtime in the months leading up to the election.
One thing is clear, Trumpism has signaled the end of “post-racial America.” Racism is no longer underground. Trump has resurrected it like a Frankenstein monster. America tried to exercise our demons by electing Barak Obama only to find that the demons have returned sevenfold in Trump.
photo credit: christianpost.com