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USA: Trump’s racist tweets

Just say ’Racist’ !

Tuesday 16 July 2019, by siawi3


Trump is truly America’s Bigot-in-Chief

By The Times Editorial Board

Jul 14, 2019 | 6:40 PM

President Trump’s Twitter feed is a repugnant place, and no one would want the thankless task of having to weed through all his bitter, bigoted ramblings to determine which are the most offensive. But a three-tweet thread early Sunday morning — in which he wrote that the four progressive House Democrats who call themselves “The Squad” should “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came” — certainly has to rank among the most disgusting.

By now everyone in America should realize the threshold problem with what Trump is saying about the lawmakers, all of whom are women of color: Three out of the four — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — can’t “go back” to the countries he has in mind because they are, in fact, from here. They were born in the United States, just like Trump himself, making them every bit as American as he is. Only the fourth, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, was born elsewhere; she emigrated from Somalia. And as a naturalized citizen of the United States, she too is as American as he is.

But Trump doesn’t care about such niceties. Nuance has never been his thing. And in any case, he is not really trying to inform us or to make a reasoned point about anything or to express a fully formed thought of any sort. He is simply spewing as usual, and in the process fanning the flames of disunity, chaos, prejudice and polarization — all cleverly hidden behind a veneer of rote and thuggish patriotism. He is playing to the lowest, most degraded emotions of his supporters while reveling in the fury of his opponents. This is the definition of demagoguery.

Sadly, it has found a receptive audience.

In Trump’s telling, these women who came from such “corrupt” and “crime-infested” countries (although they didn’t) are now lecturing “the people of the United States” about how “our” country is supposed to be run.
Enter the Fray: First takes on the news of the minute »

His unmistakable point is that because some of the lawmakers’ families once lived elsewhere — in countries he would no doubt dismiss as “shitholes” — they are not really Americans like those of us to whom his tweet is directed. It is reminiscent, of course, of his long, cynical campaign to convince people that President Obama was born outside the country.

But Trump’s family too came from elsewhere. His mother and grandparents were born in Europe. So is he one of “us” or one of “them”?

In any case, to tell people in this country of immigrants that they should “go back” (in this case to places they are not, in fact, from) is a particularly familiar, childish and bigoted taunt that has been used by know-nothings throughout American history.

Trump’s burst of tweets hit all the notes: It is xenophobic, it is “othering” in the most obvious sense of the word, it is mean-spirited, it is divisive, and it is factually wrong. He reflexively moves the American civic conversation backward rather than forward. And he revels in the blowback, as evidenced by his tweets Sunday night chastising Democrats for defending their colleagues.

He is just trolling, as usual. He is just trying to get a rise out of us. He is baiting us. He wants headlines, he spoils for a fight, he is hoping to exacerbate the tensions that have bubbled up between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and these four congresswomen. We shouldn’t rise to his bait, but how can we not? If we ignore him, we normalize his reckless behavior, and that’s even worse.



Just say ‘racist’

By Jon Allsop,

July 15, 2019

Yesterday, the president of the United States “fanned the flames of a racial fire.” According to a panoply of major news outlets, Trump “starkly injected” “racially infused” and “racially charged” words into a morning tweetstorm; the language he used was “widely established as a racist trope” and “usually considered an ugly racist taunt.” The remarks were “called racist and xenophobic”; “denounced as racist”; an “example of ‘racism’” (note the quote marks).

What had Trump said to necessitate such pained lexical contortion? He’d told a group of left-wing Democratic Congresswomen to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places they came from.” Of the lawmakers Trump appeared to be targeting, all bar one—Ilhan Omar—were born in America. Irrespective of that context, Trump’s attack wasn’t racially charged; it was just racist, by any useful definition of the term. Why didn’t our media say so?

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Outlets including BuzzFeed, The Guardian, CNN, Mashable, and Rolling Stone did directly call Trump’s tweets “racist” in news articles. The New York Times—which was otherwise responsible for three of the tortured euphemisms above—managed it, too, in a post asking readers to submit their own experiences of the “go back” attack. On Twitter and in opinion pieces, individual reporters and commentators went further. Times columnist Charles M. Blow called Trump “a raging racist”; Goldie Taylor, editor-at-large at The Daily Beast, wrote that Trump’s tweets were “unapologetically racist,” and that “if you support him, so are you.” Jamil Smith, of Rolling Stone, tweeted: “President Trump is a white nationalist, and telling folks to go back to Africa—and to Palestine and Puerto Rico, apparently—is what white nationalists do.”

On the whole, however, the news desks of mainstream news organizations did not call the tweets racist, or at least did not do so consistently across their output. (CNN, for example, used “racist” and “racially charged” in different areas of its coverage.) “Racist” often appeared in quote marks, which was a cop-out: “Reporters and anchors took the story seriously but largely leaned on ‘critics,’ primarily Democrats, and cited their accusations of racism,” CNN’s Brian Stelter notes. Centering the voices of those who experience racism is important, but it is not, in itself, sufficient: here, “the significance of Trump’s words risked being lost in a partisan fog,” as Stelter points out. The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan was blunter still. “Historians will look back on the US media’s refusal to use the L (lie) and R (racist) words in relation to Trump as one of the most inexcusable, cowardly and shameful features of this horrific political and media era,” he tweeted.

The debate around the “R word” is not new; nor, at this point, does it seem especially controversial. The Associated Press Stylebook—a trusted arbiter for newsrooms nationwide that is hardly known for its leftist radicalism—ruled in March that we should “not use racially charged or similar terms as euphemisms for racist or racism when the latter terms are truly applicable.” (Interestingly, the AP’s lead story on Trump’s tweets does not use either term without attribution.) So why do the euphemisms persist? As has been the case with the “L word,” perhaps a minute parsing of Trump’s intentions is responsible. (Did he mean to be racist/lie? How can we really know…) Maybe institutional style guides have not been adequately updated amid the unceasing torrent of news. The most likely explanation is, perhaps, the simplest: a residual, old-school squeamishness in newsrooms around charged words that—before Trump broke all the rules, at least—smacked of opinion or activism.

Calling a president’s words “racist” or “a lie” can legitimately be thorny. Should we throw the words around? Probably not. But we should use them when they accurately reflect the truth. Very simply, that’s our job. Go back to where you came from is textbook racism. When we contort ourselves to dance around that fact, the truth is injured.

Below, more on Trump’s words and the weekend news cycle:

“Say it with me: Racism”: In September 2017, CJR’s Pete Vernon argued that the press should drop the euphemisms around Trump’s remarks on anthem protests in the NFL. Writing for Nieman Lab last year, Errin Haines Whack—who, as national writer on race and ethnicity for the AP, helped craft its new stylebook entry—wrote for Nieman Lab that “we should be asking ourselves and our colleagues why race continues to be treated like a four-letter word.” Haines Whack detailed her life on the race beat for CJR’s Fall 2018 print issue on race and journalism. Read all the articles from the issue here.
The Fox hole: Were Trump’s racist tweets inspired by Fox News? Last week, Tucker Carlson called Omar “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country”; on Sunday morning, Fox & Friends ran a segment about Omar and the other apparent targets of Trump’s rant—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley—about 20 minutes before Trump tweeted. Later, the show’s hosts pulled the tweets on screen; Jedediah Bila called them “very comedic.”
The wider context: Several outlets situated the tweets in the context of Trump’s past racist remarks; some called them a campaigning stunt. But the more immediate context—pre-announced ICE raids designed, very literally, to send undocumented families back where they came from—got a bit lost. The raids were not as extensive as advertised; nonetheless, they caused fear and panic in immigrant communities nationwide. Writing on Friday, Kyle Pope, CJR’s editor and publisher, called the planned raids a “wretched, disturbing, cynical thing: a campaign event for the re-election of Donald Trump, aimed at generating a highlight reel for the fringiest edges of his base.”