Let's face facts: Our president holds racist views.
They hit the headlines again with reports, first in the Washington Post, that Donald Trump railed Thursday against immigrants from "shithole" countries such as Haiti, El Salvador and in Africa and called for taking more people from Norway, which is nearly 90 percent white.
But those who have been paying attention already suspected the darkness in Trump's heart.
It should have been obvious from the despicable things he said about Mexican immigrants.
It should have been clear from his anti-Muslim rants.
It seeped through in his reaction to the deadly march in Charlottesville, Va., putting white supremacists on the same level as civil rights demonstrators.
And now it's emerging again in the debate over Dreamers and Salvadorans who have been protected from deportation. Trump says he wants an $18 billion wall on the border with Mexico and an end to the visa lottery and "chain migration."
His entire immigration policy seems to have the goal of reducing immigration from non-white countries and somehow boosting immigration from Europe. Trump says he wants to put America First in all matters. But this isn't the America that many of us cherish – the nation of immigrants, of the Statue of Liberty.
Advocacy groups for immigrants condemned what Trump reportedly said. Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted that the president's comments "are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda."
The White House issued a statement that didn't deny his slur, but defended his stand on immigration. Early Friday, Trump, himself, issued a denial in a series of tweets, though it's difficult to take him at his word given his track record of lies. "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," the president tweeted. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!"
Later Friday, Trump signed the proclamation for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday. Reading from prepared remarks, he called the civil rights icon a "great American hero" who preached racial equality. He refused to answer questions about the uproar, including whether he was racist. To say the scene was jarring doesn't begin to capture how bizarre it was.
This is beyond the daily drama and craziness coming out of this White House, and is already hurting the U.S. around the world. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said Trump's "vile comments" only "make the jobs of Americans stationed all over the world harder – soldiers, diplomats and businesses.
"We all need to stop pretending that there are no consequences when the most powerful person in the world espouses racist views and gives a wink and a nod to the darkest elements in our society," Feinstein said in perhaps her toughest statement yet on Trump. "If the president can't control himself and lead this country with the authority, dignity and leadership it requires, then he shouldn't be the president. There's no room for racism in the Oval Office."
Yet the sad truth is that all this may actually solidify Trump's support among some in his base – the one-third of Americans who apparently will stand by him no matter what he does or says, no matter how outrageous or unfair or damaging.
For me, however, the conclusion is inescapable. He's a stain on the presidency. He's a demagogue. And he very well could be a full-on racist.
It's terrible. But it would be even worse if we ignore it.
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