Most of us try to live our lives following the best advice of Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Most of us voted that way in 2016—against Donald Trump. Since then, sadly, we’ve had to watch as the media, even some on the left, fetishize people who did the opposite, treating Trump voters as folks who have much to teach us, who singularly reveal the dimming of the American dream for a sizable segment of our citizens. Of course, Hillary Clinton won voters who earned less than $50,000 annually, so the “economic anxiety” explanation for Trump’s election never made sense. No, all the best post-election research tells us that Donald Trump is the standard-bearer for those afraid of American diversity and increasingly committed to white nationalism. That makes sense, because he ran his campaign extensively on those themes.
The past week has revealed Trump plainly for what he is: a white-nationalist mob boss. Terrified by the convictions of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the guilty pleas of former lawyer Michael Cohen, as well as immunity agreements for Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and National Enquirer don David Pecker, Trump has hit new rhetorical lows: ginning up white grievance while savaging his former associates like a mafioso. On Thursday he seemed to rip a tweet straight from neo-Nazi message boards (as well as Tucker Carlson’s Fox show) when he pledged to defend white South African farmers from mythical “farm seizures” and “large scale killing.”
I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
Apparently, it hadn’t been enough to blame the death of Iowa’s Mollie Tibbitts on an undocumented immigrant (the brave Tibbitts family objected to racists’ politicizing Mollie’s death); Trump had to tap the primal fear that multiculturalism inevitably leads to land expropriation and slaughter—in South Africa, and eventually here. (The number of killings of farmers, including farm workers, is in fact at a 20-year low, according to South Africa officials.)
When he wasn’t trying to foment race war, Trump was threatening the former associates who’ve turned on him with a mobster’s elan.
“I know all about flipping,” he told Fox News, regarding Michael Cohen. “For 30, 40 years, I’ve been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful and then they get ten years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.… It’s called ‘flipping’ and it almost ought to be illegal.”