Trump’s Persistent Offensive Tactics: Drawing on Historical Racist Stereotypes and Language

by Madison Thomas
racist language

Former President Donald Trump’s forceful reaction to his fourth criminal indictment in a span of five months is consistent with his longstanding strategy against legal and political rivals: incessant assaults, often laced with overtly racist language or coded expressions that resonate with racially prejudiced individuals.

The one-time Republican presidential candidate has employed descriptors like “animal” and “rabid” to characterize Black district attorneys, labeling Black prosecutors as “racist” and making unfounded allegations regarding their personal lives. On his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump has used words that are phonetically similar to racial slurs, while some of his followers post racially charged tirades targeting the same individuals.

This usage is indicative of Trump’s propensity to resort to racially suggestive messaging to connect with supporters. This method has been employed by him over several decades as he transitioned from a real estate mogul in New York City to a reality TV celebrity and ultimately, the President of the United States. Even without using explicit racial slurs, his language evokes America’s dark history of depicting Black individuals as subhuman.

Trump’s current remarks arrive at an especially delicate time. On a personal front, a bond agreement signed recently restricts his communications, including those on social media platforms. Experts are growing concerned that Trump’s sweeping condemnations may amplify online hostility and incite physical violence.

Such concerns are reinforced by recent events, including threats directed at individuals involved in Trump’s legal matters leading to an arrest in Texas and an FBI-related killing in Utah.

Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung, has refuted the notion that Trump’s attacks are racially motivated, insisting that Trump does not harbor any racial prejudices and that anyone asserting otherwise is themselves racially biased.

Even prior to Trump’s recent charges in Georgia, he had embarked on days of unproven racial attacks against the prosecutor involved. The indictment prompted Trump to spotlight parts of the prosecutor’s background, employing headings like “A family steeped in hate” and commenting on her African heritage.

Trump’s conduct in response to the Georgia charges aligns with his previous reactions to indictments and investigations, targeting other Black prosecutors and officials with racially tinged insults.

For decades, Trump’s remarks and behaviors towards people of color have faced criticism. His racially insensitive language, stretching back to calls for the death penalty for wrongly convicted Black and Hispanic men in 1989, to derogatory comments about immigrants, illustrates a consistent pattern.

While other contemporary public figures have occasionally used racial undertones in their speech, few at Trump’s level of leadership have exhibited such a persistent pattern of invoking racist language and stereotypes. This approach raises the concern that such comments might instigate hate crimes and violence.

Recent threats against various officials, coupled with the rise of racist stereotypes online following the Georgia indictment, underline the real risks associated with such rhetoric. Trump’s use of terms resembling racial slurs has been picked up by supporters on far-right forums, further fueling racially motivated hostility.

Despite the controversy, Trump’s spokesperson maintains that the former president’s use of terms like “rigger,” which has been interpreted by some as a racial slur, merely refers to someone who manipulates a system or event. But the term’s close association with explicit racial language continues to draw scrutiny from internet users and analysts alike.

In summary, Trump’s continuing strategy of employing both blatant and coded racist language is not only a reflection of his personal approach but also underscores a broader and more troubling trend of racial polarization and potential violence in American society.

___ Alexander reported from Washington.

___ Support for The Big Big News comes from several private foundations to amplify its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy, including coverage of race and voting through the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. The AP has exclusive responsibility for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about racist language

What is the main theme of the article?

The main theme of the article is former President Donald Trump’s persistent use of both overt and coded racist language and stereotypes, emphasizing its historical context and the potential risks it poses in the current social and political climate.

How has Trump used language that appeals to racists?

Trump has used words that are either overtly racist or coded in a way that resonates with racially prejudiced individuals. He has employed terms like “animal” and “rabid” to describe Black district attorneys and has used words on his social media platform, Truth Social, that are phonetically similar to racial slurs.

What are the concerns about Trump’s use of this language?

The concerns stem from the potential for Trump’s language to amplify online hostility and even incite physical violence. Experts are worried that his sweeping condemnations and racially charged tirades may worsen the already polarized environment and inspire acts of violence.

Has Trump’s spokesperson responded to these allegations?

Yes, Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung, has refuted the notion that Trump’s attacks are racially motivated. He insisted that Trump does not harbor racial prejudices and that anyone asserting otherwise is racially biased themselves.

What historical examples are cited in the article?

The article cites several historical examples, including Trump’s call for the death penalty for the wrongly convicted “Central Park Five” in 1989, his derogatory comments about immigrants, and his consistent pattern of racially insensitive language over the decades.

How have recent events reinforced concerns about Trump’s language?

Recent incidents, including threats directed at individuals involved in Trump’s legal matters leading to an arrest in Texas and an FBI-related killing in Utah, have reinforced concerns about the real risks associated with his racially charged rhetoric.

What is Truth Social, and how is it related to the article?

Truth Social is Donald Trump’s social media platform, where he has deployed terms that resonate with racial slurs, and where some of his followers post racially charged tirades. It represents one of the mediums through which Trump’s controversial language has been disseminated.

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Emily H August 22, 2023 - 6:07 pm

trump isn’t alone in this, many politicians are guilty. But i think this is an important read, it puts together a lot of what’s been happening recently.

Mike.J August 22, 2023 - 9:55 pm

Have to agree with parts of this article. it shows a pattern that cant be ignored. Anyone who supports Trump should read this & think hard.

John D. August 22, 2023 - 9:58 pm

I can’t believe what’s going on these days. trump knows what hes doing, He’s not a racist but this article seems biased against him!

Aaron L August 23, 2023 - 2:35 am

Look at all the details here! I never realy thought of it this way but this makes it clear. Will be interesting to see how this unfolds over time.

Sara_M91 August 23, 2023 - 10:11 am

This is something we’ve seen before. Racist language? It needs to be taken seriously but what about the other politicians who have done worse??


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