I was with Scott's explanation until the Mexican immigrants statement. He had to twist himself into such contortions to explain why saying that Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S. illegally were rapists and murderers isn't a statement about Mexican people that the rest of it lost a lot of persuasiveness. I mean, he literally says that Trump saying that "Mexico isn't sending us their best" means that Trump thinks that Mexicans are some of the best people (completely ignoring what "their" means in this context). Talk about starting with your conclusion and then twisting the evidence to fit it. I also think that while it's not the same as actively supporting the KKK, if the KKK is supporting you then it's important to at least explore why.
But at the end of the day, I don't actually think Trump is truly a racist, and I think Scott totally and completely misreads who Trump is as a person.
The thing is, I almost wish Trump were a true racist. As the great Walter Sobchak said, "I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."
As the saying goes, hate is not the opposite of love. The opposite of love is indifference. Trump doesn't hate Mexicans, black people, Jews, women, whomever. He simply does not give even a single fuck about any of them (or any of the rest us). As David Brooks wrote in early October:
Your only rest comes when you are insulting somebody, when you are threatening to throw your opponent in jail, when you are looming over her menacingly like a mafioso thug on the precipice of a hit, when you are bellowing that she has “tremendous hate in her heart” when it is clear to everyone you are only projecting what is in your own.
Trump’s emotional makeup means he can hit only a few notes: fury and aggression. In some ways, his debate performances look like primate dominance displays — filled with chest beating and looming growls. But at least primates have bands to connect with, whereas Trump is so alone, if a tree fell in his emotional forest, it would not make a sound.
Trump doesn't insult people because he feels anything about them, he insults people because he literally feels nothing. He didn't say the judge hearing the Trump University case is biased because he's Mexican because Trump actually believes this to be true, it was just the first insult that came to mind, and one that would get him attention.
I don't remember if I ever said it here, but the underlying feeling I kept getting through the campaign was that Trump wanted to be elected president, but that he doesn't want to be president. Sure, he has ideas (or gets them from other people), but they're not tethered to anything. That's why he keeps changing positions and why everything seems so schizoid. He doesn't seem to have the courage of his convictions because he has no convictions. He wanted the validation from the outside, because he's wholly incapable of finding contentment within himself. That's the same reason he's purging his inner circle with a priority on loyalty rather than ability; he has to be the center of adulation.
He can brag about groping women or be perfectly comfortable calling his daughter a "piece of ass" because he's never really had an emotional connection with anyone. He wants the approval of those immediately in front of him, so he takes a guess at how to do that and runs with it. He was okay calling his daughter that because he was on the Howard Stern show, and he thought that was the best way to get Stern (and his listeners) to like him. He was Mr. Right Wing Crazypants during the election, because that's how he got his supporters and campaign staff to like him. He got to speak to crowds of thousands who thought he was just the greatest. Why would he change? The more outside criticism hurt him (and I believe that it does), the more he would just shift his focus to those who were worshiping him while lashing out at the outside. The best way to feel like part of one group is to talk about how you're all under attack.
Notice how now that his "circle" has expanded, suddenly he's become more moderate? It's because he wants the rest of us to adore him too.
So I for one don't hate Trump, and am not angry at Trump for being who he is. I pity Trump. I can feel sorry for all those who will be hurt by his latest round of narcissism, and can only hope that our country and our world are strong enough to survive it (and I think they are). He's like the dog chasing cars, and now he's caught one.
This was originally a reply to oyster, but expanded a little as I went.
I was going to say that gender identity is a huge part of this, I think.
That's the problem, though, as they're so big that they're abstractions.
Think about it this way. I grew up in the southeastern US. If I had been born even 60 years previously, I would've been on a farm. I would've learned to hunt by the time I was 10, I would've worked the fields, etc. I would've had real responsibility that mattered in a way I could see. I would see the crop fields, I could see my family eating what I helped provide, even from a very young age. It's all very tangible, and it'd be easy to to connect my own efforts with real results. I may not have been able to easily talk to people on the other side of the world, but I'd know everyone in my county, even if they lived miles away.
But now? Maybe I get to do a DIY project or something. Ever since I moved out of my dad's house at 18, I've never really known my neighbors. My ability to provide for my family centers on a job, and God help me if I lose that, because my identity goes with it. The highest rates of suicide in the United States are middle-aged white men in the mid-West, at 44 per 100,000.
I'm about as comfortable, educated, and liberal as they come, but I continue to struggle with this to this day. I was born in the early '80s, and while my mom is as liberated as could be, there was still the more traditional underlying dynamics in my parents' relationship, to say nothing of my grandparents'. So I was still kind of raised with this idea of being the provider, even though that dynamic doesn't really exist in our society beyond some echos. My wife has said she'd love to be a stay-at-home mom, but economically that's not in the cards right now.
Women's Liberation or Feminism or whatever was great, and as we've seen still has some work to do. Unfortunately, we can't have a corresponding conversation about what men should do too--Feminists too often get defensive, and Men's Rights Activists have utterly failed to come up with a reasonable alternative. These guys seem to have a lot of that going on, with militarism being the stand-in for masculinity. I mean, it's a little hard to take seriously with the code names and the names of the groups themselves. It really reads like an attempt to regain some ego. I notice too how (and I've seen this elsewhere) they talk about themselves as those who know what's really going on, and how they're the beginnings of some new elite. There's also the sheepdog nonsense, after a letter that's been circulating around the internet for awhile.
What's kind of sad about this is how easily taken advantage of these guys are. The firearms industry (and those that make associated stuff) makes a killing on this mindset. The prices for guns and ammunition go through the roof every time a mass shooting happens, because people assume the ban is coming. After Sandy Hook, you couldn't find an AR-15 if you wanted to.
And this mindset can have real consequences. If you watch the video of when LaVoy Finicum (part of the armed occupation of that wildlife refuge in Oregon) was shot by police, you can see the battle in his head. This was a guy who had written a book that culminates with the narrator quick-drawing on and killing corrupt federal agents (another review of sorts is here). Watching the video with this context, and you can almost see his thoughts as he struggles with the fact that his moment of glory has finally come but that reality is far different. He paid for this conflict with his life.
This line from the article sums it up nicely: