It’s time to Break It Down!
American bigots, racists, and white nationalists have a long and storied history of attacking African Americans as lacking intelligence, having low I.Q., and in general, being dumb. A number of folks, including Charles Murray, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has rebuked for “using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor,” have gained substantial notoriety for their promotion of so-called “race science. ”Murray, a political scientist, co-authored a book in 1994, with psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” in which he claimed that poor people, blacks in particular, are inherently less intelligent than whites or Asians. Murray further claimed that people with low I.Q. are found more frequently in nonwhite communities.
In the mid-60’s, physicist William Shockley sparked controversy by arguing that there might be genetic reasons why black people in the United States often score lower on I.Q. tests than white people. In 1969, educational psychologist Arthur Jensen published a long article with the suggestion that compensatory education had failed to that date because of genetic group differences. Of course, such theories predate the 20th century. In the 18th century, philosophers and scientists, including Voltaire, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Carl Linnaeus, proposed the existence of different mental abilities among the races.
This post, however, is not intended to spike or debunk the likes of the theories espoused by Murray, or Jensen, or Voltaire, or Kant, or any of the others noted above. While socioeconomic factors, and patterns of socialization readily account for most if not all those distinctions, this blog focuses on a 21st century maven of misinformation, and more importantly, mischaracterization of race matters. Donald Trump has managed for nearly 50 years to distinguish himself as someone with a precarious grasp on appropriate and respectful racial engagement. Want examples? Here’s ten:
- Maxine Waters – “very low IQ.”
- Don Lemon – “Dumbest man on television
- LeBron James – “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” (A twofer, denigrating both Lemon and James, and daring Michael Jordan to side with him…which actually would have been intellectually questionable).
- Barack Obama – “Was a terrible student,” questioned how he could have been admitted to Columbia or Harvard, and suggested Obama release his school records to prove he was intelligent enough to get into these Ivy League schools.
- White nationalists/people protesting white nationalists – “There were very fine people on both sides.”
- African Countries and Haiti – S-hole countries
- Early in his Real Estate career, Trump was sued by the federal government for refusing to rent apartments to blacks. He would eventually settle the suit (after fighting it for two years) without admitting guilt, but being required to place ads in newspapers saying he welcomed black applicants, and that he would familiarize himself with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination.
- The Central Park 5 – Trump took out full page ads in 5 major NY newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after four blacks and a Latino were convicted of raping a Central Park jogger. A subsequent confession by another man, in conjunction with DNA evidence proved conclusively that they did not do it. They were released from jail and awarded $41 million for time served. Trump persisted in insisting that their convictions should have stood.
- His employees – The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler.
- Birther-in-Chief – Trump was the leading proponent of the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America
In evaluating how Donald Trump approaches race, his supporters are adamant about one thing. They aver with great conviction, he is no racist. At first blush, it appears they view him as a proxy for themselves. In such a context, it is impossible for them to concede that he is a racist…without admitting that they too are racist. While no such nexus was suggested, it’s as if they are playing chess, and thinking and visualizing several moves ahead. The assertion may not have been made, but, as sure as they drop their guard, they seem certain that they are next in line.
This is always a conversation with which I find great humor. Watching an individual twist him or herself into contortions as they try to explain why “I should not believe my lying eyes and ears” is just plain entertaining, at a very high level. Interestingly, many of his supporters have stopped saying he doesn’t lie. Frequently! That one, I suppose, has simply become too high a standard to achieve. Fact checkers at the New York Times have calculated that his lying quotient is around 7 per day, and actually numbers in the thousands. I guess that says even they find lying more acceptable than racism.
In conclusion, regarding the question of whether Donald Trump is an unreconstructed racist, I’m perfectly comfortable encouraging readers to review the bulleted evidence above, and draw your own conclusion. Please understand that those ten items do not represent a Top 10, or the definitive most egregious, or a priority ordered list, and are absolutely, positively not an exhaustive collection. Nope, they are just ten examples spanning 45 years (and parts of 5 different and consecutive decades) illuminating the words and behaviors of the guy who describes himself as a stable genius. Be he a genius or a simpleton, this is a brief summary of “Trump’s Peculiar Relationship With Race Matters: A Long Term Trend!”
I’m done; holla back!
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Very enlightening.I am familiar with Linnaeus as the Father of Taxonomy but not his theory on race. Never too old to learn something new. Thanks.
Never too old to learn; true that!