This Is Who They Are

It is, perhaps, the least surprising story published this year.

A supporter of [Republican] presidential candidate Donald Trump is accused of threatening to beat a black woman and calling her racial slurs after being kicked out of a grocery store Monday night, Albany [New York] police spokesman Steve Smith said.

Officers responded to a 911 call at a ShopRite on Central Avenue at about 8:20 p.m.

Smith said Todd M. Warnken, a 55-year-old white man from Albany yelled, “Trump is going to win and if you don’t like it I’m going to beat your ass,” punctuating the sentence with a racial slur.

“I didn’t do anything to this man and I didn’t even know him,” victim Sharavia Moore said. “I’ve never been called that word in my life.”

Warnken was escorted out of the store by staff members after “being disruptive inside,” Smith said.

Moore said the store manager told her Warnken was removed from the store after an incident in the express lane. Warnken allegedly told two Hispanic customers with more than 20 items to get out of line and grabbed their groceries when they didn’t leave, Moore said. When the cashier asked him to stop, Warnken called her “colored,” Moore said.

The 27-year-old Albany resident said she was standing outside the store alone, waiting for a cab with her groceries, when Warnken walked out cursing and screaming, followed by store employees.

“He yelled, ‘You (racial slur) had your time. Your eight years are up.’ That’s when he looked and pointed at me,” Moore said. “The assistant manager got in front of me and got him to move along.”

Donald Trump has infected the American body with a virus far more dangerous than Zika or Ebola. He has taught millions of Americans that hate is an honor, that contempt for people of color is commendable.

Thirteen years ago this month, former Massachusetts Congresswoman Louise Day Hicks passed away at the age of 87. A right-wing Democrat, Hicks was perhaps best known for her tenure as head of the Boston School Committee, where she steadfastly refused to comply with requests to integrate Boston’s public schools in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education–a refusal that ultimately led to the late US District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity’s courageous June 1974 ruling mandating the desegregation of the public schools, and the white backlash that led to vicious attacks on black Boston residents.

Nearly three years later, another far-right former Boston School Committee member, Elvira “Pixie” Palladino, passed away at the age of 74. In their obituary, the Boston Globe observed:

As the federal courts imposed busing in 1974, she rose to prominence with another vocal mother, Louise Day Hicks (who died in 2003), to help found the anti-busing group ROAR, which stands for Restore Our Alienated Rights…

Supporters of [Garrity’s desegregation efforts] say they have a hard time not remembering her as a racist.

“She stood for everything exactly opposite of what I stood for,” said Jean M. McGuire, executive director of Metco Inc. She said Mrs. Palladino used to follow her when she spoke about the program outside Boston and heckle her with racist language.

“Racism is prejudice plus power,” McGuire said. “I think she reflected the beliefs of the day, of hundreds of thousands of people. She was probably a bit more outspoken about it.”

If Hicks and Palladino–who made no secret of their loathing of people who didn’t look like them–were alive today, they’d be sitting in first class on the Trump Train, even as it seems to derail. Bigotry is a powerful thing–and its power binds Trump’s supporters to him no matter what.

Millions of Americans will still vote for Trump in November 8–Americans who regard their fellow citizens as takers and moochers and welfare queens, who see America as having declined since the 1950s, who think diversity is discrimination and equality is evil. The teenagers who threw rocks and bottles at black kids on the streets of Boston in 1974 are older now, but they’re just as intolerant…and they will proudly cast a ballot for the bigot in a little over three weeks.

Three years before the desegregation riots, Marvin Gaye declared that only love can conquer hate. Gaye had it backwards; hate can indeed conquer love. If hate could not conquer love, Trump’s campaign would have made it about as far as one of Pat Paulsen’s efforts, instead of being able to win the nomination of one of our major parties.

As Bill Maher suggested last night, Democrats and progressives shouldn’t start celebrating yet. As unlikely as it may seem right now, Halloween could still come a week late this year–and the Orange Goblin could still trick-or-treat his way right into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There’s still a lot of hate out there…and three weeks remain until we find out just how intensely it burns.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.