Free to say what they really believe

Nicholas Confessore at the NY Times on Trump as the racism candidate.

The chant erupts in a college auditorium in Washington, as admirers of a conservative internet personality shout down a black protester. It echoes around the gym of a central Iowa high school, as white students taunt the Hispanic fans and players of a rival team. It is hollered by a lone motorcyclist, as he tears out of a Kansas gas station after an argument with a Hispanic man and his Muslim friend.

The chant is just one word – Trump.

In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald J. Trump’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race.

And that’s why he’s so terrifying. This isn’t some joke or stunt or tv show or publicity move. It may be any or all of those in Trump’s mind, who knows, but that is no guarantee that he wouldn’t act on his message of racial hostility if he were elected. Racist chanting doesn’t stop with racist chanting.

Mr. Trump has attacked Mexicans as criminals. He has called for a ban on Muslim immigrants. He has wondered aloud why the United States is not “letting people in from Europe.”

His rallies vibrate with grievances that might otherwise be expressed in private: about “political correctness,” about the ranch house down the street overcrowded with day laborers, and about who is really to blame for thedeath of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

In cries of “All lives matter.”

“I think what we really find troubling is the mainstreaming of these really offensive ideas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups. “It’s allowed some of the worst ideas into the public conversation in ways we haven’t seen anything like in recent memory.”

And not merely “offensive.” People can get over being offended, but the ideas are dangerous as well as “offensive,” and it’s the dangerous part that makes Trump terrifying.

Some are elated by the turn. In making the explicit assertion of white identity and grievance more widespread, Mr. Trump has galvanized the otherwise marginal world of avowed white nationalists and self-described “race realists.” They hail him as a fellow traveler who has driven millions of white Americans toward an intuitive embrace of their ideals: that race should matter as much to white people as it does to everyone else. He has freed Americans, those activists say, to say what they really believe.

Yeah. And that’s a bad thing.

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