The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Don’t waste your breath trying to convince Trump supporters he’s repugnant

President Trump speaks during a rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on  Aug. 15.
President Trump speaks during a rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on Aug. 15. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Life is short. So, don’t waste it trying to prove President Trump is a racist, a bigot or a white supremacist.

“If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” the rhythm-and-blues song by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, is instructive. If by now minds haven’t been made up about Trump’s repugnant racism and religious intolerance, nothing said or done from this moment on will make a difference.

The sad truth is that with all that Trump has said and done, millions of Americans don’t see where he has ever crossed the line.

Slurring Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists? Calling for a ban on all Muslims coming into the country? Suggesting that a U.S.-born judge overseeing a Trump University lawsuit should recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage (“He’s a Mexican,” Trump said)? Saying people in the United States from Nigeria will never “go back to their huts”? Referring to Haiti and African countries as “s---hole countries” while wishing the United States would take more people from places like Norway? Tweeting that four black and brown members of Congress — three of them born in the United States — should “go back” to their countries of origin? Launching a slimy birther crusade against President Barack Obama? Constantly resorting to racially charged language?

Trump's tweets telling minority congresswomen to “go back” to their countries follows a history of racism and nativism. Voters will decide if this is effective. (Video: The Washington Post)

What about those acts, you might ask? Shouldn’t they prompt folks in Trump’s camp to start striking their tents?

The answer might be found in an interview that NBC affiliate WWBT in Richmond conducted during the 2016 presidential campaign with a man identified only as the “Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Declaring his support for Republican candidate Trump, the imperial wizard said: “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”

What he believes in, they believe in. Trump’s loyal base of supporters rejects or ignores any charge of bias. They stay locked in, because they see things his way; he is speaking for them.

President Trump dismissed allegations that he is a racist July 30, adding that he’s “the least racist person there is in the world.” (Video: C-SPAN)

So, don’t waste time trying to convince them that Trump has a dark side.

They have heard what you heard; have seen what you’ve seen. The difference: They delight in the Trump thoughts, words and deeds that you denounce.

The dark side is with them.

The America in which Trump grew up so comfortable has changed.

Today’s women of color are more than servants, maids and nannies. Or staff put on the payroll to serve white bosses. These women demand to be taken seriously — as mayors, members of Congress, journalists, business executives, corporate directors, artists, writers, teachers. Some of them also wear hijabs.

Gone is the day when nonthreatening roles of entertainer, athlete and general helper were regarded as natural and inevitable stations in black and brown lives.

Buffoons, criminals and workers in the kitchen are within Trump’s comfort zone. They can be handled.

People of color, rich in knowledge and experience, and with nerve to stand up and talk back?

That’s a bridge too far.

Which gets back to the main point. Trump is what he is. There’s the no small matter of all the rest.

It is the Greenville, N.C., crowd chanting “send her back” that cannot be ignored.

Look closely: Among them are managers, shop owners, real estate agents, police officers and sheriff’s deputies, bosses, foremen — people whose day jobs affect people of color.

Within the ranks of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” disciples are people who believe he is all that stands between them and an earthly perdition where their version of Christianity is on the ropes. That helps explain why they cheer Trump on when he moves against the LGBTQ community, makes life miserable for “invaders” along the southern border and when he launches ugly racist attacks on women of color, oh yeah, and slurring that black congressman from Baltimore who dressed down a white federal bureaucrat over the treatment of detained migrant children. Put him in his place.

It doesn’t bother them at all when Trump resorts to racist, sexist and religiously intolerant tropes in his onslaughts.

Face it. They helped put — and are now fighting like mad to keep — a prejudiced president in the White House. What does that say about them?

What does it say about the rest of us if we let them? Forget labeling; spend the time we have left on the political effort to rid the White House of that problem.

Read more from Colbert King’s archive.

Read more:

Colbert I. King: Donald Trump is American democracy’s worst nightmare come true

Paul Waldman: Where Trump’s racist rants come from

Donna F. Edwards: We must confront Trump’s racism every time — no matter how often he spews it

Gary Abernathy: Trump is not a racist. His voters aren’t either.

Michael Gerson: Ignoring Trump’s racism betrays our country’s victims