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Trump must be condemned, but downfall should've come sooner

RECENT EVENTS suggest that the wheels might finally be falling off of the Trump campaign.

Initially seen as a joke candidate, to quickly becoming the Republican nominee and a very possible candidate for the presidency, Donald Trump’s campaign is one that has taken many by surprise –
particularly those of us looking on from across the Atlantic.

After a video emerged of Trump in full sexist misogynistic flow – boastfully describing groping women – the businessman came under serious fire from both inside and outside of the Republican Party. Despite calls to step down from leading Republican figures and aside from a half-hearted excuse-riddled apology, Trump remains defiant.

In a live presidential debate, Trump claimed that his comments in the video were merely boast and bravado, not the description of actual sexual assaults. It’s important to note here that even if this were true and no sexual assault took place, the boasting of people like Trump may contribute to and perpetuate a rape culture that plagues contemporary society.

But Trump’s defiance apparently knows no bounds. After the video and his comments led to at least five women coming forward with accusations of sexual assault, there is still no resignation.

There is no telling whether these incidents will be enough for the United States to finally put an end to the terrifying prospect of a Trump presidency. Certainly this should be the end, but should it not have come much, much sooner?

Trump’s past contains a litany of deeply alarming and troubling allegedly racist misdemeanours, but it appears that these have not been enough to prompt the introspection the US so desperately needs.

During his candidacy for the Republican nomination, Trump spoke of banning all Muslims from the United States. Trump also spoke of plans to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall”. In typical bullish fashion, he claimed that this was to
be done at Mexico’s expense. His desire to keep out Mexican immigrants apparently outweighs the practical and logistical impossibilities of building a wall well in excess of 1,000 miles.

Apparently these ridiculous policy claims were not enough to turn a supposedly ‘post-racial’ America against the Republican nominee. Nor was his failure to distance himself from the support of the Ku Klux Klan, but maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Trump is a man with a long history of allegations of implicit and explicit racism, who seems to maintain a good reputation, at least on the American right.

Whilst Donald was president of his family’s real estate company, the company faced two separate lawsuits raised by the Justice Department. The company was accused of quoting different terms and conditions to its white and black applicants, and for deceitfully telling black applicants that properties were not available. Three years after Trump stated that the company would not discriminate against black applicants, the second lawsuit was raised.

Trump also played a huge role in the infamous case of the Central Park Five. After one Latino and four black teenagers were accused of the rape of a jogger in Central Park New York, Trump used his financial privilege to take out full page ads in all of the city’s major newspapers. The ads not only condemned the accused teenagers, but also called for the return of the death penalty. With Trump having a great influence on proceedings, the teenagers spent their formative years in prison, branded as rapists.

After a confession and new DNA evidence saw the men acquitted, the case become one of the most high profile miscarriages of justice of all time. Rather than offering an apology, Trump went on the offensive, refusing to accept the innocence of the men, or any racially charged wrongdoing of his own. Even the warnings of members of the Central Park Five did not appear to have been enough to stop Trump’s ascendance to presidential contender.

These acts and many more well documented elsewhere should have put an end to Trump’s career, but they didn’t. So what does this tell us?

We need to recognise the huge discord between the way we view society in the US (and in the UK), and the lived realities of whom? Whilst our societies are imagined as a post-racial utopia in which racism is an anomaly, out of kilter with the views of the masses, the reality is that racism is far more endemic and far more deeply woven into the societal fabric than many care to realise or admit.

US society is in denial about its racist underbelly – we must recognise that Trump is a consequence and expression of a fundamentally racist white supremacist society. This is why Trump’s chances of presidency have survived so many challenges and only now face a formidable threat.

Of course, Trump may well still survive this. If he does, that will tell us that as well as racism and ‘casual’ sexism, American society does not take allegations of sexual assault seriously enough.

Remi Joseph-Salisbury is co-editor of the Graduate Journal of Social Science. He is a researcher at the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

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