Reiff: I’ve never met a racist

Ask any white person you know if they are a racist. The response invariably comes in various forms of denial. “I don’t see color.” “I have friends who are black.” “I don’t (or only sometimes) use the ‘N’ word.” “I don’t have a racist bone in my body;” When white people are convinced they are not racists, they get free rein to stereotype and marginalize people who do not look like them.

President Trump recently tweeted that the Gang of Four should go back to the countries they came from. In doing so, he has come that much closer to winning the 2020 election. He has referred boastfully to his tweet and even has had the true believers chanting, “Send her back!” at a rally the other day. Republicans defend him as not racist because he did not join in on the chant. His manipulation of the issues is straight from the White House playbook.


First, the playground level of bullying does not surprise anyone. He appropriates patriotism, wraps his invective in the flag, and debases anyone who disagrees with him. According to the president, when these four duly-elected females of color work to change the system, they are dissing and attacking America. They hate America — so telling them to go back to their countries makes sense. But a white male candidate for president in 2016 insulted America as a weak “laughingstock,” drowning in cesspool of liberalism. How’s that for hating your country?

Second, Trump refutes charges of racism by saying something as absurd as, “I do not have a racist bone in my body.” His base sees themselves in his image. He is not racist, and neither are they. For many, racism is a narrow term that means only being anti-African-American. These four congresswomen are not African-American — so no racism. But they are troublemakers (just like so many of their kind) who want to destroy America as we know it.

Third, the Republican media machine has convinced much of the populace that these four women are communists who are engineering a takeover of the entire government. They may or may not enslave all conservatives, but at the least they will regulate their businesses and destroy the free enterprise system. These women do have policies consistent with democratic socialism, a system that includes Medicare, a graduated income tax, and many other American policies to reapportion income for the common good. These women see their ideology as the means to make America great. If we are to remain a viable country and civilization, we must prioritize protecting our environment. Even the Carroll County Times acknowledges that the Green New Deal, while an overreach at this time, “has aspirational elements that deserve serious discussion.” So much for a communist takeover. Patriots want to protect the environment. Dismissing the very notion of climate change reeks of corporation before country.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party has been able to make the socialist menace stick to anyone who considers themselves liberal. It makes every bit of sense for Democrats (and anyone with a sense of decency) to rally around these four women. Democrats, especially those running for president, become socialists by association who are plotting with the Deep State to destroy America. They are all in this together.

Fourth, Trump and his colleagues are building political capital in the pushback from rightly outraged Democrats. Apparently, to call someone out on racism now makes you the racist. The liberal critics have it wrong. In fact, they are the ones who continue to bring up racism. They are the real racists. People who think racism is only about skin color defend Trump because he did not use ethnic or racial slurs. He just wants to make America great again — by throwing out people who do not agree with him, especially if they are women of color, Hispanic, Muslim, and socialists.

Well played, Mr. Trump. In one tweet, you have managed to promote racial, social, political, and interpersonal divisiveness and pour gasoline on the misplaced fear and anger of your base.

Telling Americans they should leave the country because they do not support a political agenda is not new. During the Vietnam War, many conservatives wore “America — Love it Leave it” buttons, yet Vietnam largely underscored fake news from the military and government. Over 50,000 young Americans gave their lives for a failed regime change.

In the early 1970s, I protested the Vietnam war, worked against racism, and supported protecting the environment. I stand for those same ideals every Saturday on Main Street in Westminster with the Patriots Resist Rally. The people who support the rantings of an unhinged leader should question their own patriotism. If you don’t like living in a “laughingstock” where you are threatened by the Deep State, go back to Europe where you came from. And the true immigrant in the White House, who used chain immigration to get her family into the country, can go back to Slovenia.

Henry Reiff is the Education Department chair at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster.