Tuesday Reads: Trump and White BacklashPosted: January 16, 2018
Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But in our new reality, the day highlighted the fact that in 2016, Americans elected a man who symbolizes “white backlash.” His career in real estate reflected the survival of American racism 50 years after King’s assassination; and his presidency has been about erasing the accomplishments of America’s first black president as well as making America white again by curbing immigration.
Vann R. Newkirk III at The Atlantic: Five Decades of White Backlash.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In response, a week later President Lyndon B. Johnson scrambled to sign into law the Fair Housing Act, a final major civil-rights bill that had languished for years under the strain of white backlash to the civil-rights movement.
Five years later a New York developer and his son—then only a few years out of college—became two of the first targets of a massive Department of Justice probefor an alleged violation of that landmark act. After a protracted, bitter lawsuit, facing a mountain of allegations that the two had engaged in segregating units and denying applications of black and Puerto Rican applicants, in 1975 Trump Management settled with the federal government and accepted the terms of a consent decree prohibiting discrimination. So entered Donald Trump onto the American stage.
The country has changed since those turbulent days. Many of the major policies created to end the era of de jure white supremacy and address King’s campaigns against segregation and for voting rights have become entrenched in law, bureaucracy, and the courts. Overt racism and bigotry have acquired the stink of faux pas, integrated spaces persist in some places, and there’s even been a black president. But in this Pax Americana, the seed of resistance to those ideas and policies that King championed also germinated across generations. Now that the man who made his name flouting the spirit of King is president, the tree has borne its most ripe fruit….
As Trump’s own career indicates, the roots of this pushback reach much further than the topsoil of the Obama era. Indeed, King helped popularize the phrase and idea of “white backlash” during the civil-rights era, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, and after which Democrats, including President Johnson, feared a strong mobilization of white voters against the reform. “A section of the white population, perceiving Negro pressure for change, misconstrues it as a demand for privileges rather than as a desperate quest for existence,” King wrote in the Saturday Evening Post in November 1964. “The ensuing white backlash intimidates government officials who are already too timorous, and, when the crisis demands vigorous measures, a paralysis ensues.”
Through the later years of his life, King was acutely aware of and intensely concerned with white backlash, which he perceived as a rebounding force that could over time reduce the gains of integration and equal protection to mere tokens. He also suffered from that rebounding force in his own lifetime, with declining approval ratings and increasingly militant white-supremacist opponents. And then he was killed.
That Trump dared to speak about Dr. King in his “proclamation” on yesterday’s holiday was a sick joke. Then he rubbed our faces in his racism by spending the holiday golfing instead of the public service he recommended for the rest of us.
Last Thursday Trump ensured that this year’s MLK birthday holiday would be marked with discussions of Trump’s own racism. As everyone in the world knows by now, Trump met with lawmakers on that day to discuss an immigration deal on DACA. During the meeting Trump made it clear that he opposes allowing people of color to immigrate to the U.S., calling Haiti, El Salvador, and every African country “shitholes.”
The Washington Post has the background on that infamous meeting: Inside the tense, profane White House meeting on immigration.
When President Trump spoke by phone with Sen. Richard J. Durbin around 10:15 a.m. last Thursday, he expressed pleasure with Durbin’s outline of a bipartisan immigration pact and praised the high-ranking Illinois Democrat’s efforts, according to White House officials and congressional aides.
The president then asked if Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), his onetime foe turned ally, was on board, which Durbin affirmed. Trump invited the lawmakers to visit with him at noon, the people familiar with the call said.
But when they arrived at the Oval Office, the two senators were surprised to find that Trump was far from ready to finalize the agreement. He was “fired up” and surrounded by hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who seemed confident that the president was now aligned with them, according to one person with knowledge of the meeting.
Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that Durbin and Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa “shithole countries,” denigrated Haiti and grew angry. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting.
It appears that “empty barrel” John Kelly was the one who got Trump “fired up.”
Attendees who were alarmed by the racial undertones of Trump’s remarks were further disturbed when the topic of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) came up, these people said.
At one point, Durbin told the president that members of that caucus — an influential House group — would be more likely to agree to a deal if certain countries were included in the proposed protections, according to people familiar with the meeting.
Trump was curt and dismissive, saying he was not making immigration policy to cater to the CBC and did not particularly care about that bloc’s demands, according to people briefed on the meeting. “You’ve got to be joking,” one adviser said, describing Trump’s reaction.
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly was in the room and was largely stone-faced, not giving any visible reaction when Trump said “shithole countries” or when he said Haitians should not be part of any deal, White House advisers said….
In the late morning, before Durbin and Graham arrived, Kelly — who had already been briefed on the deal — talked to Trump to tell him that the proposal would probably not be good for his agenda, White House officials said. Kelly, a former secretary of homeland security, has taken an increasingly aggressive and influential role in the immigration negotiations, calling lawmakers and meeting with White House aides daily — more than he has on other topics. He has “very strong feelings,” in the words of one official.
Yes, we learned of Kelly’s “very strong feelings” when he publicly attacked and lied about Rep. Fredrika Wilson and refused to apologize.
At CNN, Ron Brownstein explains Why Trump voters need the immigrants they want to turn away.
The irony in President Donald Trump’s hostility to immigration, expressed again in reports of his vulgar comments about Africa and Haiti last week, is that in appealing to the racial and cultural resentments of his political base he is directly threatening their economic interests.The equation is unmistakable: as America ages, the older and blue-collar whites at the core of Trump’s electoral coalition in 2016 need more working-age immigrants to pay the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.
Without robust immigration, each American worker will need to support substantially more retirees in the future than workers do today. And that will greatly increase the pressure for either unsustainable tax increases or biting benefit reductions in the federal retirement programs that the older and blue-collar whites central to Trump’s support rely upon so heavily.
Trump’s hostility to immigration ignores one of the central dynamics of 21st century American life: an increasingly non-white workforce will pay the taxes that support Social Security and Medicare for a rapidly growing and preponderantly white senior population.
“As every baby boomer retires over the next 15 years, we are going to need many more of these (diverse) young people to take their place,” says William Frey, a demographer at the center-left Brookings Institution.
Because the US largely shut off immigration between 1924 and 1965, today’s senior population is preponderantly white. Frey has calculated that three-fourths of all Americans 55 and older are white. Those older whites were the cornerstone of Trump’s coalition in the 2016 election: whites over 45 gave Trump over three-fifths of their votes, and provided a majority of all the votes he received, according to exit polls.
A few more stories of possible interest:
The Washington Post: The Senate’s push to overrule the FCC on net neutrality now has 50 votes, Democrats say.
Fifty senators have endorsed a legislative measure to override the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to deregulate the broadband industry, top Democrats said Monday.
The tally leaves supporters just one Republican vote shy of the 51 required to pass a Senate resolution of disapproval, in a legislative gambit aimed at restoring the agency’s net neutrality rules.
Those rules, which banned Internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites, were swept away in a December vote led by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Republicans had argued that the rules were too restrictive for industry, while Democrats said they provided a vital consumer protection.
The resolution aims to overturn the FCC’s decision and prohibit the agency from passing similar measures in the future. It has the support of all 49 Democratic senators as well as one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: Devin Nunes is under mounting pressure to release the transcript of a House Intel interview with Fusion GPS.
The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat is calling on the panel’s Republican majority to release the transcript of the panel’s November interview with Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
“In light of the selective leaks of Mr. Simpson’s testimony and the misleading manner in which Fusion GPS’ role has been characterized, I support releasing the transcript,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel’s ranking member, said in a statement through his office on Monday.
“The Majority has released transcripts of Dr. Page and Mr. Prince when it suited their interests, and likewise should make an exception here,” Schiff added, referring to Carter Page, an early Trump campaign aide, and Erik Prince, an informal adviser to Trump’s transition team.
A spokeswoman for Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that hired the former British spy Christopher Steele to research then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, said on Monday that Fusion supports the release of the transcript. The firm had even sent a letter to the committee to that effect, she said, but it has not yet been publicly released.
A year after the discovery of foods that could sicken people at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, his Winter White House was just cited by inspectors for poor maintenance.
Never mind that it costs $200,000 in initiation fees to join the exclusive club, which has two restaurants and a bed-and-breakfast.
Fresh state records show the B&B needed emergency repairs in order to pass the latest inspection in November.
Trump’s club, located on a beachfront property where the historic main house was built in the 1920s for cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, was cited Nov. 8 for two violations deemed high priority: the lack of smoke detectors capable of alerting the hearing impaired through flashing bright lights; and slabs of concrete missing from a staircase, exposing steel rebar that could cause someone to fall.
“High priority lodging violations are those which could pose a direct or significant threat to the public health, safety, or welfare,” the inspection code reads.
The club was re-checked Nov. 17, a week before Trump’s return for his Thanksgiving vacation, and this time “met inspection standards,” according to the state inspection report.
What stories are you following today?