CD editor's note: The Swedish-language version of this post first appeared in today's Aftonbladet.
There are many, many people in the United States right now wondering how we got to this point. How we could have a President of the United States unwilling and unable to clearly and firmly condemn white supremacy in his country? How we could have a President of the United States so devoid of humanity, insight and fundamental decency? And, I say “we” as a citizen of the United States.
Many of those wondering might be US citizens who voted for Donald Trump. They might be Republican politicians who endorsed Trump in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. They might even be citizens of Sweden (and the world) who assumed that Trump would change once he took office.
To these people asking these questions and making these assumptions, there is only one answer: those who voted for Trump got exactly what they voted for. There was no false advertising. There was no deception. The hateful rhetoric that Trump expressed during the election campaign – against women, against Muslims, against minorities, against his political opponents, against journalists – has carried over into his Presidency. He has delivered what he promised.
Those in the Republican party who supported Trump after his nomination as the candidate, and continue to support Trump through what is clearly the most disastrous presidency in modern history, cannot claim outrage or surprise. They knew what they were getting, and didn’t care who was hurt in the process. The Republicans made a pact with the devil in order to keep their power, and they are now seeing what that pact has done to the country they so often and so loudly claim to love. If there was ever a good example of how power corrupts, it would be how the Republicans are unwilling to condemn Trump.
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While many people used the election of Barack Obama as evidence that the United States had moved past its racist history, the violent opposition to Obama (led for years by Donald Trump) and the questioning of his citizenship and religion was evidence that the end of US racism was a myth. Now, just eight months after Obama left office, the notion of a United States that has moved beyond questions of racism is not even mythical…it is simply sad. And very, very dangerous.
Racism in the United States did not begin with Trump. It did not begin with Fox News. It has been woven into the fabric of US society since the foundation of the country. Everything from popular culture to the legal system to policing to education. In other words, Trump and Fox have simply exploited, for political and economic gain, feelings and sentiments that were already there. It always amazes me when I hear people express shock when they see events such as those that took place in Charlottesville. I understand the desire to see the world as a good place, but it is naïve, and the denial of the existence of prejudice is a luxury afforded only to those who do not suffer from that prejudice.
So, what we are witnessing in the United States is the violent emergence of hatred that has been present and bubbling under the surface of US society for many, many decades. What Trump (and the media organizations that support Trump’s worldview) have done is to give those hateful views an air of legitimacy, and to inject extremist views into the political and social mainstream.
When running for President, Trump marketed himself as a product…and it is fair to say that the product has turned to be exactly as advertised.
Let’s not pretend otherwise.