Why “black-on-black crime” isn’t a valid argument against criticizing police brutality

VOX Policy & Politics

Harry Houck caused an uproar on Monday when he implied that black people were “prone to criminality” during a CNN panel.

“Facts have got to matter,” Houck said. “If we were going to make some changes to what’s going on here, the police have already recognized the fact that we’ve got some issues we’ve got to deal with. Now the black community has got to also understand that they have issues they have to deal with.”

But the facts Houck cited are telling. He mentioned the controversial “Ferguson effect”: that more crime is happening because officers are reluctant to do their jobs for fear of backlash from protesters and community members. He also said black people accounted for a much higher percentage of violent crimes than both the population they represent and their white counterparts.

For Houck, police brutality discussions too often turn into “a one-sided argument” where “racial demagogues out there turn [these facts] around that the blacks are being picked on.” While police officers are scrutinized, Houck suggests that black people take responsibility for their own crimes.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani issued a similarly inflammatory statement Monday. Not only did he call the Black Lives Matter movement “racist,” but he also chastised protesters for not protesting crime within their own communities.

“Black Lives Matter never protests when, every 14 hours, somebody is killed in Chicago, probably 70 to 80 percent of the time [by] a black person,” Giuliani said on Fox News. “Where are they then? Where are they when a young black child is killed?”

But the facts Houck and Giuliani left out are important too. Black people care just as much about racial disparities in policing as they do violence within their communities. And violence within their communities is too often tied to structural inequalities that racist policing perpetuates.

Black people care about crime within their communities and racism in the criminal justice system

A recent YouGov survey of 1,000 Americans underscored what many black Americans have long argued — that police brutality and crime are not mutually exclusive concerns.

While 64 percent of respondents believe intracommunal violence is a bigger problem for black Americans than racial justice in the criminal justice system, the results diverged when race factors in: 71 percent of white respondents share this belief, compared with 42 percent of black respondents.

A new survey finds that views on "black on black crime" diverge along racial lines.

A new survey finds that views on “black on black crime” diverge along racial lines.

But the degree to which black Americans diverge is also important: Black respondents in the YouGov survey are concerned more with violence within the community, but only slightly more so. Thirty-six percent do not feel intracommunal violence is more important than addressing racial injustice in the criminal justice system.

This suggests that black Americans may not prioritize the issues the same way, but it doesn’t mean they discount either of them. And maybe a better question to ask is why those like Houck presume that black people do and should choose between the two issues in the first place.

“Black-on-black crime” is a symptom of broader structural inequalities

Since the term emerged in the early 1980s, hysteria over “black-on-black crime,” which diagnoses the issue as a broader cultural failing, has obscured the economic and social inequalities that contribute to high crime rates in black neighborhoods.

“Supposedly we saw youth that were going astray and that was the problem,” University of Illinois geography professor David Wilson told the Root in 2010. “The media imposed this narrow [black-on-black] lens that looked at the category of culture. The culture was deemed as problematically different than the mainstream.”

Black people aren’t uniquely predisposed to commit crimes against each other; crime is generally just racially segregated, based on a number of factors, including that most people commit crimes against people they either know or live near. According to the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Reports, close to 90 percent of African-American homicides were committed by other African Americans, while the majority (82 percent) of white American homicide victims were killed by other white people.

Another factor that contributes to crime is poverty. A 2014 special report by the Department of Justice found that black and white households that lived in poverty were much more likely to be victims of crime, and were victims of crimes at similar rates (51.3 per 1,000 compared with 56.4 per 1,000, respectively).

Black people are more likely to live in poverty without the resources necessary to get out of it. Redlining practices targeting black communities have deprived entire neighborhoods of their economic viability for generations. A 2015 report by the Century Foundation found that more than one in four African Americans lived in concentrated poverty, in comparison to one in 13 white people.

Meanwhile, white families have six times as much wealth as black families, and the poverty rate for black people (27.2 percent) is almost three times that of their white counterparts (9.6 percent).

Additionally, unemployment is far higher for black people, and always has been — by at least 60 percent since data collection started in 1972. At the end of 2015, the black unemployment rate was 9.5 percent — only slightly less than the national peak (9.9 percent) in 2009. The white unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.

And yet politicians and government officials have advocated for community policing programs to curb crime, despite a lack of evidence demonstrating that it effectively does so. In September 2015, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice would provide $12 million for these programs.

In fact, racist policing can exacerbate these issues. Some departments try to turn a profit by ticketing, which tends to exploit racially biased policing practices. The Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson, Missouri, showed high incarceration rates there, because residents often could not afford to pay the fines incurred from ticketing they disproportionately faced. And a panel of New York police officers recently admitted they often target the most vulnerable — poor people, people of color, and LGBTQ people — to meet quotas.

Violence within black communities and the overpolicing of black people are linked. But if an honest conversation is going to be had about either topic, especially in light of the latest officer-involved fatal shootings of black people, it needs to based on the fact that “black-on-black crime” is not simply black people’s making.


Spike In Racism Reported After Brexit Vote, ‘We Voted Leave, It’s Time For You To Leave’

(Credit: AP Photo/Tim Ireland)


The first Muslim woman to serve in the British cabinet says that her country’s vote to leave the European Union triggered a spike in racist abuse.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash/File)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash/File)

“I’ve spent most of the weekend talking to organisations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime,” says Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a former co-chair of the Conservative Party who served as Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2012 until 2014. “They have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it’s time for you to leave.”

Baroness Warsi added that “they are saying this to individuals and families who have been here for three, four, five generations.”

It’s not particularly surprising that the Brexit vote appears to have emboldened racists, as Britain’s far right openly appealed to racism and xenophobia during the lead up to this referendum:

Polls indicate that “79 percent of Brits who thought immigration was a ‘force for good’ voted ‘Remain,’ while 80 percent of Brits who thought it was a ‘force for ill’ voted ‘Leave.’”




Trump Faces Hispanic Judges In Several Federal Courts

Trump Faces Hispanic Judges In Several Federal Courts

 McClatchy Washington Bureau | JUSTCE SOTOMAYER


WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s far-flung business operations might come before myriad Hispanic judges even as he raises claims that at least one might be biased against him because of his tough posture against Mexico.

In Nevada, U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro is overseeing a case in which Trump Organization lawyers and their opponents insulted one another.

In Florida, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga is overseeing a settlement reached with aggrieved employees of the Trump National Doral resort.

And just last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined her Supreme Court colleagues in considering a case brought against Trump Entertainment Resorts.

The results, in these and other cases, have varied. But taken together, the intersection of frequent Trump-related litigation with a federal judiciary in which more than 100 Hispanic or Latino judges serve makes the comments by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee even more significant.

“If you accept his proposition that no Mexican-American judge could ever hear a lawsuit against the Trump administration and then he said Muslim judges, there’s no stopping point,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, said in an interview Monday.

Trump put the ethnicity of judges into play with his assertion, repeated several times, that Southern California-based U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has an “absolute conflict” in a Trump University lawsuit because he is “of Mexican heritage.”

“I’m building a wall,” Trump said in a Wall Street Journal interview. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest.”

Curiel, a former federal prosecutor who was born in Indiana, has ruled against Trump’s interests several times in the class action lawsuit brought by disgruntled former clients of the now-closed Trump University. Curiel, among other actions, ordered the release of internal university documents that shed embarrassing light on Trump’s business.

“If he was giving me a fair ruling, I wouldn’t say that,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper, again citing Curiel’s background. “I think that’s why he’s doing it.”

Trump followed up by commenting Sunday that “it’s possible” a Muslim judge also might be biased against him because of his political call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The persistent litigation that has accompanied Trump’s various businesses has, in fact, brought both favorable and unfavorable rulings by Hispanic or Latino judges. The judges include those of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, among others; their rulings involve many cases that are now closed, as well as some that remain active.

Last Tuesday, for instance, the Supreme Court declined to grant a petition by UNITE HERE Local 54 challenging a lower court’s ruling in favor of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Neither Sotomayor, the first Supreme Court justice of Hispanic heritage, nor any of her colleagues publicly disagreed with the decision.

Sotomayor, born in New York City to Puerto Rican-born parents, is one of 124 Hispanic or Latino federal judges serving, according to the most recent tally by the Federal Judicial Center. A total of 857 appellate and district court judges have been authorized by Congress.

On occasion, judges are challenged on the basis of personal identity. These challenges fall short. Same-sex marriage opponents, for instance, failed to replace a gay San Francisco-based federal district judge who struck down California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage.

“Legally, he is absolutely wrong in saying that it’s a conflict of interest,” Chemerinsky said, referring to Trump’s rationale. “African-American judges hear challenges to discrimination suits. Women judges can hear challenges to sex discrimination suits.”

One Hispanic federal jurist, New York-based Judge Analisa Torres, heard a lawsuit brought by women who claimed the Trump Model Management agency had lured foreign models to the United States with false promises of a glamorous life.

Last March, Torres, a New York native who is of Puerto Rican descent, sided with Trump and dismissed the case.

Navarro, a Las Vegas native of Cuban descent, has served as a Nevada-based judge since 2010, giving her multiple opportunities to adjudicate Trump-related litigation.

One lawsuit, for instance, was brought by family members who claimed they were injured when an elevator at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas fell more than 20 stories. Trump’s lawyers first succeeded in moving the complaint into federal court, where it was assigned to Navarro.

Her subsequent rulings have struck a balance. She rejected Trump’s attorneys’ claims that their legal opponents’ behavior was “vexatious” and “annoying,” and also rejected the other attorneys’ claims that the defendants’ behavior was “criminal” and “contemptuous.”

The Trump businesses, moreover, were ultimately dropped from the family’s lawsuit, with an appellate court ruling last December that Navarro was correct that there was “no direct evidence of negligence by Trump.”

In the case brought by Trump’s employees in Florida, by contrast, Altonaga last March rejected the Trump attorneys’ bid to summarily dismiss the lawsuit. The decision by Altonaga, the first Cuban-American appointed to the federal bench, prompted an eventual settlement.

“The parties amicably resolved all disputed claims in this matter,” attorneys advised Altonaga last month.

Trump, in a conference call with reporters Monday, ordered his supporters to continue questioning Curiel’s credibility and to malign reporters, Bloomberg News reported.

The news agency said a “clearly irritated Trump” told his supporters to attack journalists who ask questions about the lawsuit and his comments about the judge.

“The people asking the questions — those are the racists,” Trump said. “I would go at ’em.”

Michael Doyle and Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Washington Bureau


The head of Hispanic media relations for the Republican National Committee is resigning


Ruth Guerra |You Tube Screenshot


It’s tough to be a Latino representative for the Republican Party. This is true no matter how you slice it. However, “slicing it” with a serving of Donald Trump as Republican nominee for president makes it virtually inedible. Ruth Guerra has been the head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee for the past couple of years. She’s a rising star in the party, at the age of 28. She’s also going to be “moving on.”

Ruth Guerra, who is of Mexican descent and was in charge of carrying the party’s message to Latino voters, is joining the American Action Network, a Republican-alignedSuper PAC, she confirmed in a brief interview on Wednesday.

While some are calling this a natural, upward move for the young Republican, it’s hard to see it that way when you look at facts and reality.

But Ms. Guerra told colleagues this year that she was uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump, according two R.N.C. aides who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the difficulties surrounding the party’s presumptive standard-bearer.

It is relatively rare for party staff members to leave the national committee in the midst of a presidential campaign unless they are going to work directly for the nominee.

[Emphasis added]

Ms. Guerra decided not to discuss her feelings about Donald Trump. Fair enough. Except Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for the office of president of the United States. Of America! Here’s some more from the “no shit, Sherlock” file.

The dichotomy of being a Republican paid to defend a candidate attacking Hispanics on a near-daily basis proved to be too much for Guerra, according to multiple Latino Democratic and Republican operatives familiar with her thinking. Despite differences in party affiliation, Latino Democratic and Republican aides in Washington are a tight-knit group, given that just a handful hold prominent positions.

“I’m so proud of her” for leaving, one Hispanic Republican said Wednesday night when told the news. “I don’t know how she held on for this long.”

Good for Ms. Guerra. We will not agree on much of anything in the coming months or years, as her politics are as conservative as the Republican Party expects them to be. But we can agree on one thing—Donald Trump is a scary racist.

By Walter Einenkel



Jimmy Carter, Seeing Resurgence of Racism, Plans Baptist Conference for Unity

Former President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta in August. CreditKevin D. Liles for The New York Times


Former President Jimmy Carter, who has long put religion and racial reconciliation at the center of his life, is on a mission to heal a racial divide among Baptists and help the country soothe rifts that he believes are getting worse.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Carter spoke of a resurgence of open racism, saying, “I don’t feel good, except for one thing: I think the country has been reawakened the last two or three years to the fact that we haven’t resolved the race issue adequately.”

He said that Republican animosity toward President Obama had “a heavy racial overtone” and that Donald J. Trump’s surprisingly successful campaign for president had “tapped a waiting reservoir there of inherent racism.”

Mr. Carter conducted telephone interviews to call attention to a summit meeting he plans to hold in Atlanta this fall to bring together white, black, Hispanic and Asian Baptists to work on issues of race and social inequality. Mr. Carter began the effort, called the New Baptist Covenant, in 2007, but it has taken root in only a few cities. The initiative is expanding to enlist Baptist congregations across the country to unite across racial lines.

Mr. Carter, 91, began treatment last year for cancer that had started in his liver and spread to his brain. He announced in December that doctors had found him free of cancer but that he was still receiving treatments for metastatic melanoma. On Monday, he said he was feeling well.

Mr. Carter, a Democrat who was the 39th president, grew up on a farm in Plains, Ga., where many of his friends were the black children of neighboring farmhands. He was raised a Southern Baptist and was the first United States president to call himself a born-again Christian, bringing national attention to the evangelical movement.

Mr. Carter said the election of Mr. Obama was a hopeful sign, but he added, “I think there’s a heavy reaction among some of the racially conscious Republicans against an African-American being president.”

He said recent reports showing high unemployment and incarceration rates among black people, “combined with the white police attacks on innocent blacks,” had “reawakened” the country to the realization that racism was not resolved in the 1960s and ’70s.

He said Mr. Trump had violated “basic human rights” when he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and called for a ban on Muslims’ entering the country.

“When you single out any particular group of people for secondary citizenship status, that’s a violation of basic human rights,” said Mr. Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work with the Carter Center in promoting human rights and democracy in many countries.

Asked why polls showed high support among evangelical Christians for Mr. Trump’s candidacy, Mr. Carter said: “The use of the word evangelical is a misnomer. I consider myself an evangelical as well. And obviously, what most of the news reporters thought were evangelicals are conservative Republicans.”

“They have a heavy orientation to right-wing political philosophy, and he obviously is a proponent of that concept,” Mr. Carter said, referring to Mr. Trump.

He pointed out that the evangelicals in the Southern Baptist Conventionhad aligned themselves with the Republican Party and organized the Moral Majority, a conservative Christian political group, only in the late 1970s, while he was president. Mr. Carter announced that he was leaving the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000, after the denomination solidified its turn to the right and declared that it would not accept women as pastors.

Mr. Carter founded the New Baptist Covenant by reaching out to black and white Baptist associations, many of which had split many years ago over slavery. Nearly 15,000 people from 30 Baptist associations attended the founding meeting in 2008.

Hannah McMahan, the executive director of the New Baptist Covenant, said the group had been in a “pilot phase” for the last two years. She said black and white churches had formed partnerships, called covenants, in Dallas; Macon, Ga.; St. Louis; Birmingham, Ala.; and Atlanta.

But the process is painstaking, Ms. McMahan said, adding, “What this has given me an appreciation for is how deep the divides are, and that this kind of work will not happen overnight.”

The work is especially challenging in this climate, said the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was once a pastor. Ebenezer Baptist is participating in the New Baptist Covenant.

“This is a dark moment in our national conversation,” Pastor Warnock said. “Those of us who understand that we are better together had better raise our voices, because there are others who are trafficking in theater, in paranoia, and they ply the trade of fear as part of their political craft.”

However, he said, “I’m much more fired up than discouraged, because the ugliness of the rhetoric we’re seeing in this election cycle really just brings into sharp focus the ugly underbelly of bigotry that has always been there.”


Biden wants ‘uncomfortable’ racism debate

Getty Images


Vice President Biden said on Thursday that Americans must confront “institutional racism.”

“No one wants to say that,” he told a National Urban League legislative policy conference in Washington, according to Politico. “I know I sometimes speak out too loudly, sometimes, but I make no apologies for it. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but these are uncomfortable times.

We’ve got to shake up the status quo a bit.

“You know, we see this institutional racism today in voting, in children’s education, in the very makeup of our neighborhoods, housing patterns, employment, transportation, access to transportation,” he added.

His speech focused on “the overwhelming problems of the legacy of institutional racism which we still live with,” Politico reported.

Biden said the 2008 economic recession had particularly hurt minorities and the impoverished.

“[The] freefall was particularly bad for poor folk and particularly bad for African-American and Hispanic poor folk,” he said.

“You have a disproportionate share of African-Americans living in cities who do not own an automobile,” he added.

“You can’t have a job if you can’t get there to the interview. So we’ve got to put a lot of money into transportation, meaning everything from streetcars to buses to rail transit, connecting inner cities to the suburbs.”

Biden also said that Americans “can’t pretend that children of different races have the same opportunities.”

“I’ll be here with you pushing the next president to level the playing field,” he said.

“I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do,” Biden joked of his term’s upcoming end. “[I’ll need] career advice from some of you.”

Biden ruled out a third Oval Office bid last October, likely signaling the end of a political career that has spanned four decades.

He concluded that he did not have the time or emotional energy for a viable campaign after the death of his son, Beau Biden, following a battle with brain cancer last year.

By Mark Hensch

Scientists confirm what conservatives always deny: Tea Party driven by fear of a black president

Conservative activists during the 'Operation American Spring' rally in 2014 (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)

Conservative activists during the ‘Operation American Spring’ rally in 2014 (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)


Researchers at Stanford University found that when they showed white subjects photos of President Barack Obama with darkened skin, those people became more likely to support right-wing political organizations like the Tea Party.

According to the Washington Post, sociologist Robb Willer and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments from 2011 to 2015 in which they demonstrated that some white voters may be driven by unconscious racial biases against people with darker skin.

The study came about when Willard found himself pondering why racist hysteria has ratcheted up in this country since the election of President Obama in 2008. The ranks of white supremacist groups swelled after Obama entered the White House and watchdog groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center report that hate groups have become more active in recent years.

In Republican politics, right-wing extremist Tea Party candidates ran longstanding GOP officials out of office as conservatives in this country doubled down in opposing the president and his policies.

“That left a lot of analysts slack-jawed, wondering: What was this latent force that drove the emergence of this movement?” Willer told the Post.

The research team interviewed volunteers who they separated into two groups. One group was shown photos of celebrities which included a photo of Obama with digitally lightened skin. The other group saw the same photos, but with an image of Obama with darker skin.

Among 255 white subjects, people shown the darkened picture of Obama were almost twice as likely to say that they support the Tea Party when questioned by researchers.

“The result suggests that some white Americans are more likely to oppose Obama solely because of the shade of his skin,” wrote the Post’s Max Ehrenfreund. “For them, the reality that someone with a dark complexion occupies the nation’s highest office could be a source of unease.”

The study group published the results of their work this week on the Social Science Research Network. The findings coincide with previous studies which have shown that racism has been an essential factor in Republican electoral victories.

“Polls consistently show that Republicans are more likely to hold racial prejudices, and not just in the South,” the Post reported in March. “Nationally, almost one in five Republicans opposes interracial dating, compared to just one in 20 Democrats,according to the Pew Research Center. While 79 percent of Republicans agree with negative statements about blacks such as the one about slavery and discrimination, just 32 percent of Democrats do, the Associated Press has found.”

“Sounds like black privilege to me”: Rampant racism forces Fox News to close comments section on Malia Obama article

"Sounds like black privilege to me": Rampant racism forces Fox News to close comments section on Malia Obama article

In this April 8, 2016, file photo, President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia walk from Marine One toward Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport. Malia is taking a year off after graduating from high school before attending Harvard University as part of an expanding program for students known as a “gap year.” (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File) |Credit: AP


 Fox News’ online comments section is notorious for racist slurs and degradation of the Obama girls (among other things).  This is nothing new.  Of course with Trump’s rhetoric (among others who support Trump) if elected, things will be worse.  (ks)


An article about Malia Obama’s choice of college garnered racially charged reader comments on Fox News

After posting a news story about Malia Obama’s decision to take a gap year before beginning Harvard, Fox News was forced to remove the comment section from the article, after an avalanche of racism by readers, according to reverbpress.

Although the comments are now hidden, Addicting Info managed to take several screenshots of the hatefulness posted some on the news site. Typos and grammatical errors have been included as per the original:

I wonder if she applied as a muDslime..or a foreign student..or just a N—–

According to the screenshot, this comment garnered the most likes from other users, managing to combine three different groups of people into one racist sentence.

RickPatel: Another academically challenged affirmative-action parasite steals a place from qualified White or Asian student

eifakvdks: Sounds like black privilege to me.

haode: if it were honorable it would surrender that spot to a needy citizens.


ashes2dust: Hopefully she gets cancer/aids or one of those colored diseases.

napili: Don’t You have to apply to Harvard or just be black?

This is not the first time the right has attacked  Obama’s daughter. Malia became the subject of attacks in 2015 after it was rumored she drank alcohol at a party while visiting Brown University. Conservatives decided that she was not only guilty of doing what many teenagers do, but that she was downright evil. She was also targeted after being photographed wearing a T-shirt with the words “Pro Era,” the name of a rap label.


5 Reasons You Have To Be Tolerant Of Bigotry To Support Donald Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media during a news conference at the construction site of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

REUTERS/Jim Bourg 


Trump supporters — more than any other candidates’ — oppose diversity, feel minorities are taking their opportunities and generally prefer white people to black people.

It’s all just an act.

That’s what Donald Trump’s new, more professional staff – led by former war crimes advocate and old H.W. Bush/Dole convention delegate wrangler Paul Manafort – wants GOP insiders to know about the buffoonery of the billion-dollar baby they’re about to nominate to be president.

“When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose,” Manafort told a recent Republican National Committee meeting.

Trump himself has vowed to become so presidential that he will bore you to tears when the time is right. If you trust the polls, the right time was about five years ago.

Trump’s favorability among Latino voters is at 9 percent, according to a recent Latino Decisions poll. Mitt Romney won close to 30 percent of the Latino vote – a lower number than John McCain, and he did even worse with the fastest growing group of new voters than George W. Bush.

Trump has made scapegoating Mexican immigrants his signature issue, and central to that the construction of a giant, impossible, mostly useless slab of concrete; a physical metaphor for his implicit promise to restore aging white Americans’ perceived dominance over ethnic minorities.

The fantasy that we’re bound to get a “new Trump” is endlessly appealing to the press, who look at general election polling numbers that show him being crushed by either Democratic frontrunner and fear a sudden ratings drop-off. The notion that Trump can whitewash away the bigotry that has defined his candidacy by starting fresh this summer is just a continuation of the premise that Trump’s appeal is based broadly on the economic concerns of a working class that feels left out in this new economy.

Reporters eagerly seek out the anomaly of a black businessman at a Trump rally to make the case that Trump’s populism isn’t modern know-nothingism built on hostility to minorities, but rather some last grasp at the American dream.

While it’s true that much of the middle class is running threadbare after decades of conservative policies have left older white Americans justifiably angry and scared, it’s not true that this is just some blue-collar movement built on economic anxiety. Trump supporters – more than any other candidates’ – oppose diversity, feel minorities are taking their opportunities and generally prefer white people to black people.

Be worried: These urges exist to some to degree in most American voters, but since the rejection of George Wallace, few candidates have sought to blatantly exploit them in the way Trump has.

The appeal to ethnocentrism has been a bulwark of conservative politics for generations,UC Berkeley Law professor Ian Haney López argues, and a key to the right’s strategy of turning the white working class against the government programs that made the world’s largest middle class possible in the first place. Trump’s willingness to turn to the darkest urges of dog-whistle politics has made him nearly unstoppable in the GOP primary, and apotential electoral catastrophe in the general election.

Most Republicans will eventually buy into the fantasy that Trump’s vicious racial appeals can be erased from our memories, because they have to. And so will the press.

The reluctance to smear a whole group as racist is a valuable urge. But it’s just condescending not to expect the adults who support Trump to see what that they’ve bought into.

That’s why it’s crucial to make keep making this point: Supporting Trump may not necessarily make you a racist, but at the very least it does mean you’re tolerant of bigotry. Here’s why.

  1. Birtherism.
    If you want to make the case that a compliant press has made Trump’s candidacy possible, as I have, consider why Trump isn’t asked about his obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate, the issue that made him a conservative hero after decades of trying to get someone to take him seriously as presidential candidate. Why? He tells them he doesn’t want to talk about it, and so they don’t. We have no idea if the soon-to-be GOP nominee for president believes the current president is even a citizen. Would he prosecute Obama for treason? What evidence were his claims of fraud built on? No one asks these questions but we all know the answers. It’s all bullshit. Trump exploited an issue based entirely on racial suspicion, and then suffered no consequences for this vile display. In fact, it’s why he’s where he is today. He knew he could get away with it, because he always has.
  2. He’s been like this for decades.
    Trump’s view that foreigners and minorities are America’s biggest problem isn’t new for him. He’s been playing to xenophobia and racial animus for years – whether it was calling for the death penalty for a group of innocent black kids or using the Japanese as a punching bag, long after his accusations bore any semblance of sense. There’s a reason white supremacists are inspired by his candidacy, and it isn’t just because he spreads their hate online to millions of Twitter followers.
  3. Muslim ban.
    The idea of banning a group of 1.6 billion people based on their religion is repugnant to a nation that was founded on the basis of offering refuge for freedom of expression. But it’s even uglier when it’s based on the exact kind of Islamophobia ISIS seeks to encourage as it wipes out “the grey zones” where religions co-exist. Muslims are the most common victims of extremist terror and have played a key role in keeping America safe since 9/11, having been responsible for far fewer deaths than – say – furniture or toddlers with guns. To support Trump’s willingness to scapegoat them out of convenience is to support the kind of bigotry that makes us all less safe.
  4. Anti-Mexican rhetoric.
    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said as he launched his campaign in July of 2015. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” With this began a campaign that has used the idea of the widespread criminality of Mexican-Americans as its foundational belief, backed up by as few facts as Trump’s birtherism. It’s especially ridiculous rhetoric at a time when crime and border crossings are at or near generational lows, and while America’s population of undocumented immigrants is actually dropping.
  5. Willingness to turn America into a police state to uproot immigrants.
    The Republican promise of a smaller government will instantly disappear when the party endorses “Deportation Squads” to round up 11 million undocumented people. “Conservatives” back this plan because they can’t – or won’t – acknowledge the millions of undocumented people who’ve come here by plane and the more than half of the 11 million who aren’t Mexicans. They’re enticed by the fantasy of a new “Operation Wetback,” or by visions of brown-skinned marauders flooding our border. How do we know? Because that’s exactly what Donald Trump put in his first TV commercial.

Re-published from The National Memo

San Francisco Officer’s Racist Texts Prove Bias on the Force Is Not Just a White Thing

San Francisco Officer's Racist Texts Prove Bias on the Force Is Not Just a White Thing

Image Credit: AP


The release of racist text messages sent to fellow officers by former San Francisco Police Officer Jason Lai is helping to buck a racial narrative in which white officers perpetrate the bulk of police brutality and bias against blacks.

Lai, who allegedly sent text messages including epithets towards African-Americans, Latinos and Indians, is Cantonese-American, according to a report published Tuesday by CNN.

The officer resigned in early April over a related scandal that ensnared more than a dozen San Francisco police officers, invited a federal civil rights investigation of the department and heightened tensions with the city’s communities of color.

In December, Police Chief Greg Suhr beat back activists’ claims that racist attitudes in the department were deeply rooted after a police officer fatally shot Mario Woods, a 26-year-old African-American who was wielding a knife, in front of several witnesses. Lai’s texts, however, are counter to Suhr’s statement that he’d rooted out the bad apples in the department.

“I hate that beaner but I think the nig is worse,” read one of the texts obtained by CNN. “Indianppl are disgusting,” read another. The texts also referred to NBA player LeBron James and President Barack Obama as n*ggers and included homophobic language.

Lai’s involvement in the texting scandal comes after Asian-American activists across the country sought to speak out against real and perceived racism within their community. Activists with the organizing group Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence have said that racism within minority communities, while they don’t carry the same weight as racism among whites, contributes to the oppression and injustice experienced disproportionately by African Americans.

In April, the CAAAV condemned the light punishment for New York City Police Officer Peter Liang, who was found guilty in February of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley, an unarmed, 28-year-old African-American in a housing project stairwell in Brooklyn. Liang received a reduced sentence of probation from a New York judge on April 19.

“While the Chinese media and some Chinese leaders stood behind former Officer Peter Liang, as grassroots organizations working with Asian/Chinese Americans, we continue to stand with the family of Akai Gurley and other innocent victims of police killings to hold all police officers accountable, regardless of race,” the group said in a statement released after Liang’s sentencing. “We continue to affirm that if we believe in true racial justice, we cannot excuse an officer for killing an innocent unarmed black man because Peter Liang is Chinese or Asian like us.”

Aaron Morrison