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The Unbearable Whiteness of Being (Donald Trump)

Only Donald Trump knows what it means to be "great." (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

If there is one thing that the Trump phenomenon has taught us, it is that, for Trump, it is not easy being white in America. Being white means never-ending guard duty, defending the country against those who would seek to rip apart the bleached fabric of American society.

For Trump and his supporters, those who protest against systematic racism and police violence are nothing more than divisive elements who hate their country, and abuse their rights to speech and expression. Refugees escaping the unspeakable horrors of war are nothing more than potential terrorists who will only hurt, as he put it, American "quality of life." Immigrants from Mexico are nothing more than criminal parasites, sucking blood from the generous white body of the USA.

For many this job would be unbearable, but this is the burden Donald Trump has taken upon himself: to be the truth-teller about the material and existential threats to white America, no matter how painful it may be to hear those truths. And, like most men obsessively convinced of their own insight, brilliance and bravery, Trump considers "facts" to be either open to interpretation or flawed products of a world infected by political correctness gone crazy. And what of the law? Science? Logic? Basic human decency? Like irritating flies at a picnic, Trump’s white America either swat them away, or do their best to simply ignore them.

Because what whiteness gives Trump—as it gives similar politicians outside of the US—is the magical ability to understand what his country should "really" be like, without the need for time-consuming thought, introspection or debate. Trump knows that loving America is part of his DNA, and that hating America is in the DNA of every living #BlackLivesMatter protester, Muslim or Mexican. Can he prove that? No. Proof is for losers. But Trump knows what it takes to Make America Great Again, and if the price of freedom is denying freedom, then that is what will happen. So long as those denied freedom aren’t white Christians, of course.

And, as this circus goes on, a teary-eyed U.S. media sit back and ask, “How did we get here? How can we have a candidate like this? What has become of America?”

This collective, willful amnesia is both telling and disturbing. After decades of perpetuating ethnic and religious stereotypes through news and popular culture, of marginalizing non-white voices in U.S. society, of largely ignoring systematic racial injustice in the US legal system, of supporting wars where hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims died, the U.S. media now wonder how we got here. They wonder how the very whiteness they profited from via newspapers, radio and television was something that could be leveraged for power. They pretend to forget that Trump is riding a train that left the station long before he ever thought of running for office.

Of course, in the Trump anti-matter universe, the simple answer is that there was no racism before Obama came to office.

So, as the elections draw near, spare a thought for the citizens of the United States. Their future might be, quite literally, unbearable.

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Christian Christensen

Christian Christensen

Christian Christensen, American in Sweden, is Professor of Journalism at Stockholm University. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrChristensen

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