The demagogue in the White House

Irv Randolph | 2/14/2018, 5:40 a.m.
This month we celebrate black American history and in March we will celebrate women’s history month at a time when ...
President Donald Trump has denigrated people based on their ethnicity, religion and country of origin. AP photo

This month we celebrate black American history and in March we will celebrate women’s history month at a time when the president of the United States is seen by many as the worst U.S. president in the last 50 years on civil rights.

Through his words and actions, President Donald Trump has proven to be hostile to the ideals of freedom, justice and equality for all Americans.

Trump supporters believe those words are an unfair indictment of the nation’ 45th president.

They argue that you cannot prove what is in the president’s heart and mind.

Trump has pushed back against those who accused him of prejudice, saying "I am not a racist."

His words ring hollow.

There is overwhelming evidence that the president is a demagogue, which is defined as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices, false claims and promises in order to gain power.

Demagogues are a dangerous threat to democracy.

A bigot can become educated and learn not to judge others by their race, ethnicity, sex or religion. The bigot may also seek to repent after a spiritual or moral awakening.

But a demagogue is not acting out of ignorance, but with malice.

Trump has denigrated people based on their race, ethnicity, sex or religion to gain and maintain power by scapegoating immigrants and minorities as the cause of declining wages or loss in status and safety.

The President called Haiti and African nations "s*hole countries" during immigration negotiations last month in the Oval Office and asked why can’t the U.S. get more immigrants from countries like Norway. At issue is not whether Norway offers a better quality of life for its citizens than Haiti and many African nations. It does. What is racist is the president’s preference for immigrants from a predominantly white nation and to judge the value and worth of immigrants based on their country of origin.

These comments come amid mounting evidence of race-baiting remarks from the President ranging from calling Mexican immigrants rapists, questioning whether a Mexican-American judge can be impartial because of his Mexican heritage, his weak response to white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the summer to his doubt over President Barack Obama's birthplace and his frequent verbal assaults on prominent African Americans and women.

Demagogues not only stir up prejudices they are anti-democratic and seek to silence the press.

In a speech on the Senate floor last month, Sen. Jeff Flake denounced President Trump for his sustained attacks against the news media, going so far as to compare his rhetoric to that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

In the remarks from the Senate floor, Flake, R-Ariz., pointed to the Soviet Union's dictator as seeming inspiration for Trump's attacks against the press, singling out a phrase that each used to refer to their interpreted opposition.

"It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said. "It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."