Jamelle Bouie, writing at Slate:
Fifty years after the black freedom movement forced the United States to honor its ideals, at least on paper, it’s clear this was premature. Like clockwork, white Americans embraced a man who promised a kind of supremacy. We haven’t left our long cycle of progress and backlash. We are still the country that produced George Wallace. We are still the country that killed Emmett Till.
Americans are stubbornly, congenitally optimistic. And the millions who backed Trump see something in his visage. Something that gives them hope. Here’s what I see. I see a man who empowered white nationalists and won. I see a man who demanded the removal of nonwhite immigrants and won. I see a man who pledged war crimes against foreign enemies and won. I see a man who empowers the likes of Rudy Giuliani and others who see blacks as potential criminals to control, not citizens to respect.
After the redemption of the South, black Americans—and nonwhites around the country—faced the nadir. Whites imposed new kinds of discrimination and turned a blind eye to the pogroms and racial terrorism that was scarring the American landscape.
Being the east coast elitist liberal that I am, I was listening to Morning Edition on the way home from dropping my kid off at preschool this morning. They were, of course, talking about the election, and seemed to be working overtime not to attribute Trump’s win to racism.
I have said before that root-cause analysis and reductionist explanations of complex systems are a fool’s errand, and I still believe that to be the case. If you want to talk about economic anxiety, or urban/rural divides, or blue state v. red state as a reason that Trump won, okay—but this country’s racist history and ongoing refusal to deal with that history (and present) is an major undercurrent to all of this.