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Trump’s Fear of Black Competence

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Of the many disturbing and scandalous stories about Donald Trump in Michael Cohen’s new book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” one in particular sticks out to me. It is a continuation of centuries of white supremacist thought that has handicapped Black people and Black leadership.

It is when Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, writes:

“As a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics. Africa was a hellhole, he believed, and Nelson Mandela, to use but one example, was an object of contempt for Trump. ‘Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a shithole,’ he would challenge me as he cursed out the stupidity of Obama.”

He continued:

“When Mandela passed away, years later, Trump told me he didn’t think the South African founding father and national hero was a real leader — not the kind he respected. ‘South Africa was once a beautiful country twenty, thirty years ago,’ Trump said, endorsing Apartheid-era white rule.”

He directed an expletive at Mandela and said, “He was no leader.”

This contempt for Black people and Black governance may be experiencing a fresh bloom with Trump, but it has ancient roots, deep and tangled.

During the first of the seven famous debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, Douglas accused Lincoln of wanting to turn Illinois into a colony for free Black people, arguing:

“For one, I am opposed to Negro citizenship in any and every form. I believe this government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent,........

© The New York Times

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