Jonathan Capehart is pissed.
We have long known that former president Donald Trump is the kind of racial arsonist who brings a gas can to an inferno. But not even I thought he would fool around with an accelerant like the n-word.
What? You didn’t hear about this? I’m not shocked. The actual n-word is so noxious that even its equally loaded euphemism can discomfit people into moving along and pretending nothing ever happened. For others, the euphemism offers just enough cover for them not to have to speak up.
Well, I’m in neither of those groups, and I refuse to let Trump slide on this one.
The incident happened two weeks ago at a rally in North Carolina for Rep. Ted Budd, the MAGA Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. I only heard about it thanks to a tweet from Brennan Murphy of the Recount that I happened upon last week. Surrounded by his adoring flock, Trump bellowed, “You know Putin mentioned the n-word. Do you know what the n-word is?”
Trump figured he was being cute, I’m sure. So a bunch of people in the audience (of course) shouted the word we all know as the n-word, and then he pretended to really just be talking about Putin making veiled nuclear threats. He of course got exactly what he wanted, was a bunch of people shouting the actual n-word.
I am not including either the video or the tweet with the video, because that just gives them more clicks.
Doug Jones is pissed, too.
Doug Jones, the former Alabama senator who successfully prosecuted two of the Klansmen who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, called out Trump’s tip of the hood to white supremacists for what it was. “Folks, no one uses the term ‘n-word’ when talking about nuclear weapons. That term refers to only one thing & Trump used it for a MAGA candidate running for the Senate,” Jones tweeted. “This is the kind of white nationalist, dog whistle rhetoric that has no place in America.”
True, that kind of rhetoric ought to have no place. And yet it’s everywhere in this country, and on purpose. Republican operative Lee Atwater bluntly broke down the strategy in a 1981 interview: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—-, n—–, n—–.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n—–.’ That hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.”
And even if Trump’s backers did denounce an outright usage, the damage of their silence now is done. In some ways, where we already are is just as bad: Trump gets to dance all over his kindling, waving his matchbook, but because he hasn’t struck a flame, he can claim that any fire that results is no fault of his own — and so can his enablers.
That’s why they’ve stayed so quiet: These people are just fine letting Trump burn everything down as long as they get control of the ruins.
The entire Republican party is disgusting.