I’d like to take you back a bit if I could, way back to October, 24th 2012. On this fateful day in recent history, Donald Trump, after promising an Obama-related “bombshell” that never came, released a video offering up a $5 million donation if President Obama released “his college records and applications” and his “passport applications and records.”
This was, as Trump states in the video, after the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, which obviously did not satisfy Trump. Trump claims that Obama is the “least transparent president in the history of this country.” Of course, that’s not remotely true. Trump is attempting to assert that prior presidents have released their birth certificate, college applications, records and passport data to the public; this has literally never happened.
Prior to this video, Trump harassed President Obama over his birth certificate for months, continually claiming that he wasn’t born in the United States and thus, was not a legitimate president.
He asserted that Obama’s birth certificate may prove he’s Muslim.
He said, without presenting any evidence, that Obama spent “millions of dollars trying to get away from the [birth certificate] issue.”
He said, without presenting any evidence, that Obama was a “terrible student” and questioned how he was accepted to Columbia and Harvard.
He called the Obama presidency “one of the greatest scams in the history of politics and in the [sic] history period.”
He insinuated that Obama caused a plane crash which killed Hawaiian Health Director Loretta Fuddy, as a cover-up:
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013
Obama attempted to ignore the ever-expanding fracas and not dignify Trump’s palpable white fragility with a response, but when the story refused to die, he relented.
Over a year after the release of the long-form birth certificate, Trump Tweeted this:
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012
After failing to prove any of his allegations Trump did not relent, but doubled-down once again recording the featured video, shifting from birth certificate to college and passport records. It was a pathetic flail, just one more in a series of desperate attempts to delegitimize the first black president.
It wasn’t until September 16th, 2016 that Trump finally admitted Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
It’s important to revisit these events because of their relevance now. Remember, this whole circus started with racism; Trump’s platform was built from birtherism. And birtherism was part of a time-tested strategy of casting doubt over the achievements of African Americans. As Georgetown Sociology Professor Michel Eric Dyson put it at the time, “Skepticism about black intelligence and suspicion about black humanity have gone hand in hand throughout the history of this country in feeding the perception that black people don’t quite measure up[.]”
It’s also vital we recall that while it was birtherism that sparked Trump’s political career, his racism was well-known for decades prior. From being sued for housing discrimination against African Americans in the 70’s, to calling for the death penalty for five innocent black and Latino teenagers in the late 80’s, to being fined $200k for racist employment maneuvers at one of his hotels in Atlantic City, it’s clear this is not a new trend.
In the five years since he released this video, Trump hasn’t changed much at all. The same can be said for the 28 years that have passed since the Central Park Five case, and the 44 years since the housing discrimination suit.
Donald Trump has always fixated on race, and gender, he’s been actively vilifying the other for at least half a century. So when we see him say that a Mexican judge could never be impartial, or when we see him demonize Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Muslims, and the south siders of Chicago, and insult and demean women and non-white Gold Star families and hire white supremacists, we should not, in any way be surprised.
If Donald Trump is one thing when it comes to how he approaches race and gender it’s consistent.
Written by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.