We can do hard things. Let’s talk.

At yesterday’s news conference Yamiche Alcindor with PBS NewsHour posed this question for the president:

“On the campaign trail you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying that the president – [Trump interrupts]. There are some people that say that now the Republican party is seen as supporting White Nationalists – [Trump interrupts] – because of your rhetoric. What do you make of that?”

Trump’s response? “I don’t know why you’d say that, that’s such a racist question.” “I don’t believe that.” “Why do I have the highest poll numbers among African Americans?” “That’s such a racist question.”

And that made me think of just one thing.

That hit dog sure did holler.

racist (adj.):
of or like racists or racism
racism (noun):
  1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
  2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
  3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Alcindor’s question is not racist. The question itself does not assert the position that whites are a superior culture or espouse a hatred of black or brown people. The question is simply that – a question.

The truth is Alcindor did Trump a favor when she asked about this. He’s on record calling himself a nationalist, and people are saying this language makes it look like the Republican party supports White Nationalists. She stated these facts and lobbed him the most open ended question possible: “What do you think of that?”

Before Trump answered, I thought this was just another question about his divisive language. Afterward? I thought Trump revealed more about himself than he intended. The ego lashes out when you call it on its sh*t.

In summary:

Asking somebody’s opinion about people who are calling you racist = not racist.

Actually calling yourself a nationalist, saying there are “fine people” on both sides, and talking about migrants like they’re all criminals or drug dealers coming for your wives and daughters = racist. Definitely racist. So much of the racist.

Hope that clears things up for 45.

The Small Bites series is meant to break down tough conversations into manageable pieces. I hope you come into this space with an open mind. For my part, I know now what I didn’t know in my twenties and thirties, but I don’t yet know what I don’t yet know. Thanks to those who are willing to share their thoughts and perspectives in the comments.

You can find other entries by selecting small bites in the drop down menu under “series posts.”