A Philosopher's Blog

Trump & Racist Remarks

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on August 15, 2016

Donald Trump started out his presidential bid with remarks about Mexico sending rapists and criminals to the United States and then continued along what strikes many as a path of intolerance. Perhaps from a sense of nostalgia, he returned to what many regarded as sexism and engaged in a battle with  Megyn Kelly . Tapping into fears about Muslims, Trump proposed a complete ban on their entry into the United States and seemed to explore the realm of religious intolerance. Perhaps in a bid to round out intolerance, Trump tweeted what some regarded as an anti-Semitic tweet. Most recently, he got into a battle with a Muslim Gold Star Family. Because of the vast array of what seem to be intolerant statements, some have claimed that Trump is a racist, a sexist and embraces intolerance. Those who defend Trump endeavor to spin his remarks in a more positive light and engage in tortuous explanations of what Trump “really” means. Trump himself makes the point of claiming to be politically incorrect rather than intolerant to a level that constitutes racism or sexism. As might be suspected, Trumps adventures in this area are rather philosophically interesting. For the sake of focus, I will only address racism—but the arguments that follow can also be applied to intolerance in general.

One rather important issue is whether Trump’s remarks are racist or not. On the face of it, the resolution of this issue is easy. Even fellow Republicans, such as the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have labeled some of Trump’s comments as racist. Liberal critics have, of course, asserted that Trump’s remarks are racist. As noted above, Trump “defends” his remarks by saying that he is politically incorrect rather than racist. This claim is certainly worth examining.

Trump’s approach does have some appeal—there is, after all, considerable territory between political incorrectness and racism. Also, the absurd excesses of political correctness are certainly problematic and worth opposing, thus giving Trump’s defense a shadow of legitimacy. The problem with what Trump is doing can be illustrated by the following analogy. Imagine a public dinner event that is absurdly formal and rigorous in its excesses of etiquette. Such an event can be justly criticized for these absurdities and excesses and it would be reasonable to call for it to be less formal. However, it does not follow that it would be reasonable to demand that people be allowed to defecate on the plates of other guests and urinate into the wine glasses. It also does not follow that defecating on plates would be merely informal (or “etiquette incorrect”) rather than extremely rude. So, while Trump is right to challenge the excesses of political correctness, what he is doing is analogous to claiming that defecating on dinner plates is merely a loosening of formality. That is, he has gone far beyond being merely politically incorrect (not strictly adhering to the rigorous rules of behavior as set by the relevant ideology of the left) into the realm of racism. To deny this would be analogous to the person who just pooped on your plate claiming he is just being “etiquette incorrect” and denying that he did anything really rude. As such, it seems impossible to deny that Trump has made many racist remarks.

Another approach to showing that Trump’s remarks are racist is to consider how actual racists regard them. While David Duke (a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan) denies being a racist, he has come out in support of Trump and has expressed his agreement with many of Trump’s remarks. The Ku Klux Klan has also endorsed Trump. The American Nazi Party has also expressed its support for Trump, noting how beneficial Trump has been for their pro-white agenda and white nationalism.  Trump also enjoys considerable support from racists in general. For those who oppose racism, the KKK and Nazism, the fact that such people see Trump as creating safe space for them to operate in is certainly worrisome.

One possible counter, and one used by these people and groups, is to claim that they are not racist. The main tactic is to claim that they are not anti-black or anti-Jew, but pro-white. This is, in many cases, a conscious effort to model their replies on those used by other people who assert pride in their ethnicity. This is certainly an interesting tactic and if a person can claim Latino pride or claim to be pro-black without being racist, then it would seem that pro-white and white-pride groups can do the same.

The usual reply to this is that while a person could be pro-white without being racist, groups like the KKK and the Nazis have a well-established record of being hate groups. As such, their protestations that they are not anti-others but just pro-white are greeted with well-deserved skepticism. There is also the fact that such groups tend to not limit themselves to pro-white rhetoric and pro-white behavior—they tend to still embrace the anti.

In light of the above, it would seem beyond doubt that Trump has made racist remarks. As to whether Trump himself is racist or not, that is another matter.



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22 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 15, 2016 at 8:49 am

  2. TJB said, on August 15, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    It would be easy to write a similar post about Obama. He has made racist statements, racists support him, etc.

  3. david halbstein said, on August 16, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Michael, your bias is showing here in a very big way. You are making the same logical errors you eschew – especially with your comments about David Duke. Do you really mean to say …

    “Person A is a racist”
    “Person A endorses Person B”
    “Therefore, Person B is a Racist”


    Because that is exactly what you are saying. Why not say,

    “Some illegal Mexicans ARE criminals and drug dealers”
    “These people support Hillary Clinton”
    “Therefore, Hillary Clinton is in favor of drug dealers and criminals”

    (Or – “Hillary Clinton is a criminal” – which may be true, but only coincidentally”)

    Throughout your post, you are doing what so many uninformed Americans are doing – you are responding to and even citing NOT what Trump actually said, but what the press SAYS he said. i.e., “He got into a battle with a gold star family”. The truth is that this gold star family started the battle, they were used by the Democrat party to put forth their own message in an “untouchable” way, and, when Trump took the bait they had a field day with them. As I have said in another post, this is disgraceful behavior on the part of the Democrats.

    The Gold Star Family merely repeated what the press says about Trump – he is racist, he is sexist, etc, etc, etc, and Trump said, “They have no right to say these things about me. They don’t know me. They claim I have not read the constitution, but they are wrong”.

    The press calls this an “attack” on Trump’s part, and says he is “playing the victim”, but I completely disagree. (Is it possible, in this world, to make a statement like that and not be “outed” as a Trump supporter? I have already publicly stated that I have no time for the man for other reasons, and will be voting third-party).

    Rather than apply your usual unbiased logic, you say, “Those who defend Trump endeavor to spin his remarks in a more positive light and engage in tortuous explanations of what Trump “really” means.”

    I think that what he “really” meant was that those two people did not have the right to go up and publicly call him names and parrot what the left tries to put out about him, that they do NOT know him, and that they were wrong about him not having read the Constitution. It is the left who is tortuously trying to spin his remarks to fit into their narrative about him.

    Or are you talking about the comment about the “Second Amendment People”? As soon as he said that, the press and everyone else came out with the interpretation that this was a veiled threat. Really? Are those who support the Second Amendment made up of murderers and assassins? Can we paint them with so broad a brush? Again, it was the LEFT and the PRESS engaged in the tortuous effort to spin his remarks to fit into THEIR narrative, not the other way around.

    If Hillary Clinton were to come out with a statement urging Muslim Americans to rise up against Trump, would you similarly agree that this was a call for terrorists to plant a bomb on his plane?

    As for the Republicans who join the fray – they are no better than the Democrats who voted for the Iraq war and then claimed that “Bush Lied”. They are spineless weasels who abandon ship when their own political motives are threatened.

    • wtp said, on August 16, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Michael, your bias is showing here in a very big way. You are making the same logical errors you eschew

      David, your noob is showing. Such has been standard practice from our esteemed and credentialed philosopher (PhD Ohio State) since the beginning. Don’t hold your breath awaiting Mike’s article in this same vein re Obama and BLM or the Black Panthers or Bill Ayers or…etc. etc. etc. Found this video interesting. Mike will not comment.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 17, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      I did not claim Trump is racist because racists endorsed him. My claim was that the fact that racists approve of certain claims that seem racist serves to add more evidence that the claims are racist. Not decisive, of course. If Trump praised pie, racists would also agree with him. But pie is not racist. Pie accepts us all.

      • david halbstein said, on August 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm

        Very tricky wording. Incorrect, however. You, as a philosopher and a practitioner of syllogistic logic should know, and insist, that your statement,

        “…the fact that racists approve of certain claims … serves to add more evidence that the claims are racist”

        is completely false and a logical fallacy. Try this one:

        “I believe that there is an inordinately high percentage of drug dealers and criminals among illegal Mexican Immigrants” (This is what Trump said, not what the media says he said)

        “Yeah – and besides, we hate those w#$%^&backs, so we’re with you all the way!” (racist response to Trump)

        Therefore Trump is a racist? Or this is evidence that his first claim is racist? Or this supports the media claims that he is racist?

        • wtp said, on August 18, 2016 at 3:59 pm

          Very tricky wording.

          Heh…TJ, grab the popcorn. Of course Mike will not respond to this.

          • TJB said, on August 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm

            I wonder if crickets like popcorn.

  4. ronster12012 said, on August 16, 2016 at 9:40 am


    The word ‘racism’ as an accusation is rapidly approaching its use-by date due to over use as much as by the absurdity that only white people are ever accused of it. Everyone else promoting ethnic interests are merely ‘community activists’ whereas a white person doing the same is a ‘racist’. That is racism itself lol.

    The left have spent the last few decades promoting identity politics, now everyone gets to enjoy the results.

    • david halbstein said, on August 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Calling someone “racist” bears with it an unbelievable amount of power – it can lead to shunning, finger-pointing, and consequences more dire, like loss of job or promotion. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not – it is the weapon of choice of mob rule and the go-to bludgeon for those who have no other recourse. Calling someone a racist today has a similar impact to calling someone a communist during the McCarthy era.

      I wish I could agree with “ronster”, but I believe the opposite – I think we’re just getting started. If a major party can parry serious questions about policy and process, about unethical and illegal behavior, about perjury and compromise of sensitive government secrets,and about flagrant corruption by painting the opposition and his supporters as “racist”, why bother with anything else?

      • ronster12012 said, on August 17, 2016 at 8:19 am


        You may well be right that we are just getting going in the labeling department, and I may just be indulging in wishful thinking that we have reached peak nonsense.It is just that it feels that things can’t possibly get any more absurd.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      True, when it was claimed that everyone is racist and charges of racism are thrown around easily, the term become worn out.

      • david halbstein said, on August 22, 2016 at 9:52 am

        If only that were true, but I’m afraid we haven’t gotten to that point yet. Politicians, public officials, police, teachers – anyone in the public eye is completely gun-shy about being called a racist.

        Someone here posted a video with a very scholarly discussion on “The Ferguson Effect” where cops are afraid to do their jobs for fear of an incident happening that will tag them as racist. The Clinton campaign and the newspapers salivate at every opportunity to interpret Trump’s comments as racist. If housing or banking regulations do not create equal result for non-whites based on income and job criteria, they are called racist. The mere reference to the so-called “N-Word”, in or out of context, with no malice intended, is considered to be the epitome of racism. If one merely points out that crime rates are higher among African Americans or that the incidence of terrorism is more often brought about by Muslim extremists, one runs the risk of an indelible and life-altering label.

        I recently read a facebook post about a policeman who stopped an African American man because someone who fit his description had just committed a crime around the corner. By the man’s own description of the event (it was his post), the cop was polite and apologetic, explained the situation and asked his questions. The man answered the questions and left. Yet the man pointed out that because he was black, he was in fear for his life the whole time.

        In the midst of an outpouring of sympathy for the man, and accusations of racism against the cop, I posted the opinion that I thought the way this situation was handled was ideal. A man who fit the description of the suspect (not just race – height, weight, clothing, age …) was questioned politely – he answered with respect and it was over. If anything, I thought the man who was stopped was responding with fear based on his own prejudices against the police, as fomented by the media.

        As a result, I received enough negative comments and couched threats that I deleted the entire thread and gave up my Facebook page and decided it just wasn’t worth it. I certainly didn’t want this post to get back to my employer and get misinterpreted by my company or colleagues.

        We are at the pinnacle of race-related McCarthyism. The term has not become worn out – it has yet to reach its peak. We are living under mob rule – fearing each other and watching our every word.

        The real problem is that real racism does exist in this country, but we are so hamstrung by our own finger-pointing that we don’t recognize it when we see it, and we are unable to deal with it through the tangle of political correctness.

        • ronster12012 said, on August 22, 2016 at 11:15 am


          This is perhaps reminiscent of China during the Cultural Revolution with young Red Guards denouncing all and sundry, though with more drastic consequences.

          Regarding the dreaded ‘N Word”, I noted here awhile ago that american blacks can call each other nigga, call whites crackers and honkeys as well as the usual mufugga…and no one bats an eyelid, but when a white does it it is a serious matter. Isn’t that an example of racist black privilege? I’m not american(aussie actually) and don’t have quite the same guilt programming so I can’t see what the problem is, if equality is the goal. OK, I know that equality isn’t the actual goal, the goal is just bashing whitey based on racist collective guilt that would be decried if we tried it.

          As for real racism, I believe it is really just human nature to prefer our own. All races( I note that race was once a real thing, then supposedly merely a social construct and is now back to being real again) prefer their own and work toward their own ethnic interests. And it is celebrated, except when it is white people doing it. Then it is bigoted, xenophobic disgusting racism that needs to be stamped out with the utmost severity..lol.

          Added to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia and any other silly word ending in ‘phobia’, it all adds up to massive social engineering, at least till everything goes pearshaped and then things reverts to normal again.

          • David Halbstein said, on August 23, 2016 at 5:34 pm

            “Isn’t that an example of racist black privilege?” Maybe, but I think it’s about power. The word has power because we imbue it with such. We avoid it, we react with horror as to its use, we exact punishment on those who misuse it. For the wrong person to utter the word is a hate-crime in and of itself, and can possibly put the “justify” in “justifiable homicide.”. Certainly, in this society, the person on the receiving end of that epithet has been harmed far more deeply than the victim of any retaliation he might exact.

            On the humorous side, I remember there was a Cardinal from Africa several years ago who might have been considered in a Papal election. I believe it was Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria.

            Anyway, I listened to a news broadcast and the commentator wanted to make the statement that this man could potentially become the first black pope. He couldn’t say “black”, however, because that word had fallen from favor. “Negro” was out, too, and “Pope of Color” just sounded too ridiculous. He initially settled on “African American”, but midway through his sentence he realized that, although politically correct, the term was inaccurate. He said something like, “He may become the first African-Amer … uh, African-Afric … uh, African … uh …”. I don’t remember how it turned out – but even “African”, although demographically correct would have fallen short of his goal, which was to define his skin color.

            It’s not the words that matter, it’s the way in which they are used. Hate is hate. If we continue to give this kind of power to the words we use, and continue to want to define our world around racial lines, things will never improve.

            On a side note, I am Jewish; I have (of course) many Jewish relatives – and throughout my life ignorant people have tried to put my family and me down by calling me “Jew”, “Heeb”, and other such terms. I have never considered the words themselves to be offensive – but my attitude towards those who use them falls somewhere between pity and ridicule.

            Nor do we bear any animosity toward present-day German people, nor do we ask if their heritage includes members of the Nazi party. We understand.

            • wtp said, on August 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm

              Uh-oh…TJ, we’re gonna need a bigger boat of popcorn.

            • ronster12012 said, on August 26, 2016 at 10:59 am


              Regarding the African cardinal, this was obviously before ‘Black” lives matter. It’s all bullshit IMO, and just an excuse for ‘outrage’ if whitey gets the wrong label du jour.

              The world is defined in racial and cultural terms whether we like it or not. We are all programed that way on some level and if we try to ignore race and culture then people will simply find another way of creating in groups and out groups. You say that you are a jew, but isn’t that is a racial/tribal identity in itself? And if jews are entitled to a racial identity then isn’t everyone else entitled to one s well…and we are back to square one…life goes on.

  5. TJB said, on August 16, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Blacks have suffered under Obama. Will continue to suffer under Clinton. What they need is freedom and capitalism.

  6. TJB said, on August 17, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Mike thinks deeply, and then he speaks, and then he sounds like Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Not at all, I consider opposing views and encourage people to disagree with me.

      • WTP said, on August 27, 2016 at 12:11 am

        Swarms of crickets disagree with that statement. That self-awareness thing…do you have any idea what it means?

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 17, 2016 at 10:25 pm

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