Donald Trump
Credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr

I can’t honestly describe Donald Trump’s so-called “outreach” to African Americans as a joke – because it’s not funny. But it certainly isn’t serious. As Ed Kilgore wrote the other day, his appeal to Black voters is actually directed at White voters. Here’s a great example:

Trump’s fundamental pitch to African-Americans was the hoariest of all conservative cross-racial appeals: the “plantation” meme whereby black folk are scolded as suckers for supporting a Democratic Party interested only in their votes and in keeping them dependent on government.

Yep. Nothing more, nothing less that Mitt Romney’s “free stuff.”

But over the last couple of days, Trump and his supporters have managed to dig the ditch even deeper. Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, the Republican nominee basically alluded to giving a wink and a nod to police brutality.

Pushed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to provide specifics on curbing violent crime in cities like Chicago, Donald Trump said Monday that he would simply put “tough” cops in charge.

“So, specifically, specifically. How do you do it? How do you do it?” O’Reilly asked.

“I know police in Chicago,” Trump replied. “If they were given the authority to do it, they would get it done.”

“How? How?” O’Reilly pressed.

“You have unbelievable—how? By being very much tougher than they are right now,” Trump said. “They are right now not tough. I mean, I could tell you this very long and quite boring story but when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, ‘How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge,’ to a specific person, ‘Do you think you could stop it?’ He said, ‘Mr. Trump, I would be able to stop it in one week.’ And I believed him 100 percent.”

That gives Trump a modicum of deniability if anyone accuses him of promoting police brutality. But everyone knows exactly what he means – just like we knew what he was referring to when he suggested that “2nd amendment people” have a way of dealing with Hillary Clinton. This has been Trump’s racialized message all along. From the time he called for the death penalty for black and brown teenagers who were falsely accused in the Central Park murder to his law and order message at the Republican Convention, he’s been consistent on this one.

Then yesterday Trump’s top spokesman on CNN said that the reason the candidate gives speeches that are supposedly aimed at African Americans to white audiences is because Black communities are not safe environments for his rallies. I wonder why he feels that way. Could it have anything to do with this?

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The last I saw, Trump was getting about 2% support from African Americans. In other words, if you factor in the margin of error, it could be as low as 0%. I don’t think he can go any lower. But he certainly seems determined to try. My message would be that anyone who actually cares about justice in this country – beyond their skin color – needs to pay attention to what the Trump campaign is saying as they pretend to reach out to African Americans.

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