by Neil H. Buchanan
Apparently, at least one Democratic presidential candidate (Kamala Harris) is now willing to say out loud that Donald Trump is a racist. This is only a big deal because Trump and his fellow travelers benefit from well-meaning people's understandable social skittishness about calling anyone a racist. When good people insist on talking about "racially charged remarks" or "attitudes that some view as racist, but no one can know what is in another person's heart," however, that simply creates space for Trump and other racists to push further.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin (taking a break, I was relieved to see, from her tiresome and misguided crusade about Democrats "handing Trump the election by moving too far left") points out that, although calling Trump a racist is both true and right, it does raise a touchy issue, which is what a Democratic contender will say when the inevitable followup question lands: "Well, if you think he's a racist, do you think his followers are necessarily also racists?"
Rubin offers a perfectly plausible reason why a politician would want to finesse that question, on the theory that even racists in this society do not want to be called racist (and might not even realize it). Not being a candidate myself, however, I aggressively took that extra step in my most recent Verdict column, published earlier this week: "The Democracy Conundrum: What If Large Numbers of Voters Are Racists? (The Trump/Brexit Tragedies)."
See? "Racists" is right there in the title. Like many other observers, I have been struggling with this for quite some time, but I decided that some things need to be called what they are, and the non-racist rationalizations for Trump's actions -- and his supporters' continued adoration of him -- work less and less well as every day passes.
How will racists react to being called out? Glad you asked.